Learning how to maximise your strengths and minimise the time you spend managing weaknesses takes practice, effort, and creativity. Here are seven ways to apply your efforts effectively and overcome challenges.
1. Create open communication and transparency
In most organizations, people hide their weaknesses. But we think it’s better to admit them and recognize how they may be holding you back or hindering others. Talk with your manager about where you’re having trouble and why. More importantly, don’t ever be embarrassed about what makes you great.
2. Intentionally use your strengths
The sales vice president at a large financial services firm, whose top theme is Command, asked his team how he could use his top five themes to make the team better. He keeps the list of their suggestions including talking less and listening more during meetings by his phone. Now before meetings, he thinks about asking questions before getting to his own agenda. And, he’s reminded of what happens when he uses his strengths intentionally.
3. Find support systems
Support systems help you with what you don’t do well or give you reinforcement when you need it. They can be technological, such as programming a spreadsheet that does the math on sales reports or reminder e-mails that you send to yourself. You can also establish a support system by developing new habits to help you in areas where you might be weak. Support systems can also be people — establish a network of colleagues you can call on when you need to vent or get talked off the ledge.
4. Build complementary partnerships
You build a complementary partnership by teaming up with someone who is strong in an area where you are weak. One of the best ways to create such a partnership is by offering your talents in exchange for someone else’s. This works like a support system, but the difference is that you offer something up as well.
5. Get the right education
Sales reps need training the right kind of training. And that training doesn’t rely on a rigid formula, program, or plan. The right training or development program is issue-based and specific. If you need better product knowledge, then this is a training issue. The right training accommodates individual strengths and learning styles. Those with Input might not mind reading a 400-page product manual, whereas strong Activators can be impatient to see the product in the field.
6. Manage unpleasant tasks by focusing on the outcomes
In sales, there are some things you just have to do: sales reports, expense sheets, meeting logs. And if you’re like most reps, you hate doing them. So agree with your manager on the activities that are not negotiable the stuff you must do to keep your job. Negotiate a standard, a bare minimum, and get it done. More importantly, focus on the outcomes of those activities, not the steps.
7. Adjust or change roles
Look at your top five talent themes, and figure out what you do best. Then adjust your role so you do more of that. This could be shifting from churn-and-burn selling to creating and maintaining long-term relationships. Or, if you discover that you’re using only two of your top five talent themes at work, you might do better in another role. In the meantime, use your other strengths any way you can in recreation, volunteering, or at home.
Good luck and be Great!