My Best Boss focused on Strenths and not weaknesses.

(a gentleman told me this story on a plan, it is shared from his perspective in first person.)

One day my best boss called me and a colleague into her office to re-assign team functions. Can we all say a big “Yeha in favor of change!”  Get over it, I wasn’t excited.

We worked for a for a large corporation in Midwest, and she was the newly assigned training manager. Actually I thought I should have gotten the job. I had longevity on everyone, and was the most experienced trainer. Actually, I was still a little miffed about the whole thing. Yes, people told me to get over it. It wasn’t easy, and I still wasn’t over it.

Now that she just got “my promotion”, she spent her first few months getting to know us and evaluate our strengths and weaknesses.  The boss before her just came in like a goose and would squak, S%$# and fly away.  She was different. She got to know all of us, and she really cared. (at first I wanted to barf.)

But now she was making her big reorganization move. I had been doing this job for years, and I had seen managers come and go, and they all have to reorganize something. It is their “valued added contribution” to the company.  (I almost barfed again.) Up to this point each trainer was assigned various topics that we would become “topic speicialist.” For example some were phone sales specialist, using the order entry specialist for new hires and so forth. Every trainer had their specialty. 

The new boss wanted to re-organize and make training about teams. Go figure! (the sarcasm was free, and he used it often.) Initially I thought she was crazy.  I was fine, I knew my topics and I felt comfortable in front of the room.  Now I was going to be partnered with another employee that I really didn’t like, and didn’t want to work with, on this or any project. He told me “Not that I don’t like people, I just don’t like people, get over it.” But here we were team mates. And we had to share topics.  The boss didn’t want to be without a topics specialist if someone left. He shared “after the new assignments were given out – I was thinking about leaving.”

My team’s first task was to revamp the sales training manual and process. We met the sales manager to get a new focus and discuss the workbook.  Yes, it was me, Madeline (my new team mate Yeha!), and the sales manager talking about the new training manual. After the meeting Madeline said, I can design the workbook, if you will be the trainer in front of the room.  We ran our plan past the new training manager and she was all for it.  Madeline said she would create the training manual if I would be the training specialist on this topic.  I loved the plan, I was very comfortable in front of the room, (people dug my sarcasm.) and my humor.  And I really didn’t like designing workbooks. Madeline if I must say was great at designing cool workbooks graphics and flow were her thing. We had a plan and we were a team. After the training had been delivered the results were the best ever.  The attendees scored the new program higher than any program I had been
involved with for sales training. I must admit the team concept worked. (I didn’t want to admit it worked, but why run from success.)

After the scores for the training came back my boss invited me into her office.   And we talked about the next project. I had the courage to ask her 2 questions, why did she partner me with Madeline, and why didn’t she think I got her job when she applied for the training manager?

Her answer to the first question was that the company VP wanted better training, the average scores were not as high as our peers, and her suggestion to the VP in the training program was to create work teams for training. It had improved the training scores at her old employer, and she felt it would work here.  Because of each of our strengths, Madeline could create great workbooks, and I did a better job in front of the room. Because of our unique strengths the attendees got a better program, scores improved, and everyone wins. (well I didn’t really win, I still wasn’t the training manager.)

Her answer to the next question “why didn’t I get her job?” was a little more painful. She said “I don’t think you got it, because you wanted to keep the department just the way it was. We needed a new approach. When I interviewed with the VP I offered a new solution and approach, you were more of the same.” OUCH. But I thought about what she said, and she was right. But I couldn’t admit it for months. A few months later I mustered the courage to ask her if she would mentor me to be a training manager (maybe at another company.) And she happily agreed. The first 2 books she recommended were “First Break all the rule” by Marcus Buckingham and “Just one thing” also by Marcus Buckingham.

She said those 2 tools helped her get the job because they wanted to focus on employees strengths in the departments. She offered “you didnt’ mention any plan like that when you were interviewed. The VP mentioned he wanted change and you didn’t offer change.”

For the next year she mentored me on the keys to being a training manager, and the insights she offered were outstanding. I now work for another corporation as a training manager.  She mentored me so I could get that job.

The 2 lessons I learned from her were focus on peoples strengths. Madeline and I were different but that made us stronger. Exualte you strengths, and camoflage your weaknesses. I camaflaged Madelines weaknesses in front of the room, and I used my strengths of presenting. As a team the company won.

She first focused on my strengths of presentation skills in front of the room and put me in a position to win. And she helped me focus on my dream of being a training manager.

Because she helped me with these 2 skills that made her my best boss ever.


One Response to “My Best Boss focused on Strenths and not weaknesses.”

  1. David M. Taylor Says:

    I would suggest that you shouldn’t camoflage your weaknesses. Actually you need to be very open about your weaknesses and find someone that has strengths in your areas of weakness and add them to your team. This way you have an honest, strong, well-rounded team.

    David M. Taylor

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