Five Practical Ways to Manage Weaknesses in Your Team

In last week’s post, we talked about the importance of focusing on developing strengths instead of trying to fix weaknesses. At the same time, it’s not wise to simply ignore your weaknesses. They can hold us back from developing to our fullest potential, meaning that we do need to account for them.

When it comes to managing your team, you need to work with them to identify weaknesses that may hold back their development or get in the way of their learning or experiences. 

This week, I’d like you to take a bit of time to think about some weaknesses that your team has and use one of the following five approaches to manage them. You can’t do this for all weaknesses at once, neither are they a magic, overnight fix. But you can absolutely improve weaknesses over time, whilst spending the majority of your time developing their strengths.

Five approaches for managing the weaknesses of your team

1. Help them get just a little better

This one almost sounds too simple. I won’t lie, it is indeed simple and this approach, whilst simple, is incredibly effective.

Remember that you don’t have to completely fix a weakness. You can get by and manage weaknesses by getting a little better at it. Even consistent, small, incremental improvements can add up to a lot and whilst your team member may still have the weakness, it won’t hold them back as much as it could have.

For example, if your team member struggles with grammar or spelling, pick one word that always stumps you and learn it. Then pick one grammatical error that you make a lot and learn to fix that. 

If someone struggles when giving presentations to others because they get nervous, work with them to just get better at the introduction or the conclusion first. Don’t try and fix everything all at once.

2. Design a support system

A support system is something pretty tangible that can step in and help your team when a weakness is close by. Again, if they are bad at spelling and grammar, you could install Grammarly. If you struggle to stay organised with meetings, make a single template you can use to be more organised with all of them.

Work with them to look at the root cause of a weakness and look for ways that it can be stopped at that point. It’s important to understand what your team responds to and what may trigger them to catch a weakness before it affects them.

For example, some team members may benefit from having a post-it note stuck to their desk or monitor that tells them how to spell a word or to remind them of something that they usually forget. But this won’t work for some team members who become blind to a post-it note being in the same spot every single day.

3. Use one of their strengths to overwhelm a weakness

This one is a little tricky to understand, but the best way is to think about something your team member is really good at and to use that to confront what they’re not so good at. 

For example, if they’re worried about public speaking, try to get them to speak just for five minutes but on a topic they’re super, super passionate about. You’ll be surprised at how fast this time goes and how much easier it will be for them to talk about something that comes naturally to them. At the end of the five minutes, they’ll surprise themselves with how comfortable they felt and how they just managed to speak in front of people.

Another example could be if they’re not very confident with speaking on the phone. You could help them improve their skills with writing emails and summary documents instead so that they’re far less reliant on the phone.

Of course, they may still be required to speak on the phone sometimes, but you’re helping them to manage their weakness, not putting lots of time and effort into fixing it. 

4. Find them a partner

If they have a colleague who is really good at something that they’re not so good at, see if they can offer support.

As a manager, you can look for opportunities for your team members to support each other and account for each other’s weaknesses. This not only helps individuals to better manage their weaknesses, but it can also help in bringing your team closer together. A byproduct is also that you encourage a culture where weaknesses aren’t seen as a bad thing, they’re seen as something to share and to get help with.

5. Stop them doing it

Pretty simple one! This clearly isn’t always possible, but don’t rule it out!

If it’s possible for someone to literally stop doing the thing that is tripping them up and causing problems, just do that. If the thing isn’t a deal breaker with their role, then don’t try to force it to happen because the pay off simply won’t be worth it. 

This week, spend a bit of time thinking about one or two weaknesses that your team members may have, then try to deploy one of the approaches above to help them with managing it. 

But remember – spend far more time on improving their strengths than trying to fix their weaknesses. You’ll do much more for their development in the long-term.

Have a question or a topic that you’d like me to cover in a future newsletter? Just drop me a message and let me know.

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