Take Advantage of the Strengths Each Person Brings to Work

The players have weaknesses. But it is our job as coaches to find the strengths in what our guys do. They all have strengths, and that’s what we highlight. What really helps is having Russell. He is so committed to improving on the littlest things every day. I try to find a word for this sometimes, but I can’t … it’s his refusal to fail. No detail is too small, and he makes sure to stress that every day.”

Darrell Bevell, offensive coordinator of the world champion Seattle Seahawks and former quarterback of the Wisconsin Badgers provides a good guide for managers. “Russell” in the quote is Seattle’s quarterback Russel Wilson; also a UW-Madison alumni.

Street art in Singapore 4 people sitting and a kid

Street art in Singapore. Photo by John Hunter.

Managers should be setting up the organization to take maximum advantage of the strengths of the people in the organization while minimizing the impact of weaknesses.

“Refusing to fail” by saying you refuse and yelling and stomping around if you fail doesn’t work. But if you commit to improve, not just the exciting stuff but every important detail you can create a climate of success. You create a system that works and builds on the skills, ability and desire to do great work that your employees bring to work.

Sure you fix what is broken. But you also improve what is working well. You figure out where the system isn’t optimized for the abilities of the people and you address that by changing the system to take advantage of everyone’s capabilities while limiting the impact of people’s weaknesses.


You may also want to take advantage of the vast talent pool that hail from Madison.

Managing Our Way to Economic Success by William Hunter (long time professor at UW-Madison, and my father)

Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativity.

All employees should always be asking the question. How can we get things to work better around here? Employees must be given tools to handle potential information just as they are given tools for handling goods and services.

As W. Edwards Deming said: “the aim of leadership is not merely to find and record failures of men, but to remove the causes of failure: to help people to do a better job with less effort.”

Darrell Bevell understands that managers need to design the management system to set up their people to succeed. He understand that managers need to adjust to the skill and abilities of the people. And though not mentioned above, he understands you need to develop people, as mentioned by Bill Hunter, above. Managers need to design the system to minimize risk of failure and maximize the advantages the employees bring to work every day. More organizations need their management practices to be consistent with this understanding.

Related: Taking Risks Based on EvidenceQuality Processes in Unexpected Places (Madison police department)Helping Employees SucceedWhy Don’t Football Players Just Thrown the Ball Out of Bounds to Stop the Clock

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