You’ll recognize this scenario: The team understands its common objective, agrees upon a general strategy, and has identified the tasks to be completed.
The time comes to assign various tasks to individuals. Each person secretly knows which tasks appeal to them; those they enjoy performing ; the ones they are good at; the tasks that motivate them; the assignments that will allow them to shine!
Team leader: What about you, Bob, which tasks would you prefer?
Team member Bob: I’ll be glad to work on whatever the team needs.
In his new book Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham identifies three myths that can prevent someone from capitalizing on their strengths. According to Buckingham, ninety-one percent of people believe the following:
Myth: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team.
At first glance, this statement sounds quite reasonable; an approach that could be taken by the quintessential “team player.” I mean, who doesn’t want a teammate who “does what it takes?
However, Buckingham convincingly argues that this approach is neither good for the individual nor the team, because it does not align teamwork tasks with an individual’s strengths. To create a win-win situation for the person and the team, Buckingham proposes the following:
Truth: A good team member deliberately volunteers his strengths to the team most of the time.
When all team members are playing to their strengths, individuals are able to get even better in areas where they excel and the team gets the benefit of “consistently near-perfect performance” on tasks that naturally align with team member strengths. Team members are not being selfish by volunteering for strength activities. Rather, they are providing a valuable service to help the team maximize its effectiveness.
(Because team tasks are unlikely to align perfectly with team member strengths, Buckingham adds the obvious caveat, “…occasionally each team member will have to step outside of his strengths zone and ‘pinch-hit’ for the team.”)
So let’s try again..
Team leader: “What about you, Bob, which tasks would you prefer?”
Team member Bob: “I really get a charge out of doing “x” and I’ve had a lot of success at it. I think the team would benefit if I took ownership of the “x” assignment. How does that sound to everyone else?”
By the way, I will post a review of Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham at Joyful Jubilant Learning’s A Love Affair with Books on March 30.
Technorati: strengths, Marcus Buckingham, teamwork tasks, Go Put Your Strengths to Work