Do other people really see you for who you are? Do they recognize your potential and appreciate your strengths? It’s often hard to know!
I recently worked with a sales manager and helped him get to the bottom of how he was perceived by his sales team. It was an incredible discovery and I think you will find the story both interesting and useful.
This manager, who was fully dedicated to coaching and developing his people, reported that he was finding it increasingly difficult to earn and keep their trust. At the same time, his revenue numbers were dipping so it was more important than ever to get his team fully engaged and back on track. Determined to right this ship, he came to us for a much-needed Talent Insight.
Unlike any other performance survey out there, Talent Insight starts with the talents identified in the Profit Center Manager Interview, a validated scientific instrument that measures innate talents. While other 360-type surveys focus primarily on identifying how a manager can improve in areas of weakness, Talent Insight works exclusively to help a manager clearly understand their own unique strengths and build a sure-fire plan to leverage those strengths to be more productive and successful.
Before we could help this manager improve his coaching performance, we first had to understand his coaching potential. Using the Profit Center Manager Interview, we gained a clear picture of his innate strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the job of developing people and growing revenue. This was essential information in helping us understand how he was naturally wired to behave. A quick glance at this veteran manager’s Profit Center Manager Interview showed that, overall, he had a great deal of natural talent. A closer look revealed three very important takeaways. One of his greatest areas of strength involved his people skills. He also had great talent intensity in the influence themes we call Leader and Persuasion. And finally, mixed in with his strengths, he had weaknesses to contend with, mostly related to his attention to detail.
Our next step in the Talent Insight process was to share what we had learned directly with the manager. We spent about an hour with him, providing him with detailed feedback on his innate strengths and weaknesses and discussing how he felt things were going from his perspective. Then, we sent the 55-item Talent Insight survey to all of his direct reports, so as to better understand his behaviors as they are perceived by others and to compare those perceptions with his innate abilities. Our mission was to determine whether he was reaching his potential in areas of strength and finding ways to work around his weakness so it didn’t get in the way of his success. Using the completely anonymous Talent Insight survey, each of his direct reports rated each item on a 1-9 scale and this is where it got really interesting!
While his talent interview revealed a lot of natural strength in a theme we call Caring, his scores were not very strong on items related to Caring, including:
- My manager is empathetic
- I trust that my manager has my best interests at heart
This was clearly an area where he had a tremendous opportunity to improve! It was apparent that something was getting in the way of his natural ability to develop strong relationships based on trust. The detective work began. We were excited to figure out what was getting in the way of his natural talent, and then to provide him with specific strategies to put his substantial relationship abilities to use more effectively and improve how others respond to him.
Continuing on our Talent Insight journey, we also looked deeply into this manager’s intense Influence themes, Leader and Persuasion. As expected, his direct reports recognized these talents in him, but his scores were so extreme, it led us to another important discovery. Sometimes behaviors can be so strong, so intense, that they can almost be too much. This manager’s strongest scores were in areas that included:
- My manager stands up for what he or she believes is important
- My manager is highly persuasive
Of course these are positive behaviors that the best managers exhibit consistently. But the lack of balance for this manager was significant. While his team did not see him as empathetic or focused on their best interests, they gave him extremely high ratings for behaviors that involved unbending strength and persuasion. You can see how these two talents would play off of each other—and in some ways cancel out some of the potential benefits unless he was very careful.
The third takeaway that I want to share with you involved this manager’s weakness in detail orientation. He received incredibly low ratings on questions like:
- If my manager says he will do something, I know he will— and it will be on time
- My manager can always put his hands on any document I am looking for
Because we knew, going in, that this was an area of weakness for him, we did not expect him to receive stellar scores on these items. But his scores were so low as to be very significant. This weakness was clearly getting in his way and had probably played a role in the lack of trust his sellers felt toward him.
With all of this new insight, it was time to roll up our sleeves and get to work building a plan to help him use his talents more effectively to accomplish his goals.
Three weeks after we collected all of the surveys, we shared the data and our conclusions with him and began his Executive Coaching series of calls. We armed him with a strong plan for increasing his effectiveness and set the date for our six-month survey to see if his team was responding better.
He is already seeing evidence of a turnaround and I will look forward to sharing that success story soon. Now that he fully understands his own innate strengths and appreciates how those strengths align with the needs and expectations of his team, he is on the right track to turn his coaching potential into coaching performance. Just as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” talents have to be perceived well by others in order to produce effective results.
Find out more about Talent Insight Executive Coaching.