WHEN STRENGTH IS WEAKNESS
by Erik Doescher
In Pivot’s early days, each employee played multiple roles. For example, on any given project I was the account lead, strategist, copywriter, art director, marketing coordinator, statistician and web specialist. In fact, the only role I didn’t play was that of graphic designer, which is likely the number one reason we still have the majority of those early clients today.
As we gained more clients, our staff grew and some of the roles I originally played were filled by other team members. For instance, I no longer found myself trying to be a web specialist or statistician (much to the delight our our clients, I’m sure). I wasn’t really good at those roles anyway, so I felt this was in everyone’s best interest.
When we reached a certain number of employees, I remember encouraging Pivot’s leadership to “put people in their strengths,” meaning we would have employees do more of the things they’re good at, and less of the things they’re weren’t so good at.
This made perfect sense to me. If someone is good at something, why wouldn’t we want them to do more of it? Why wouldn’t we want people to do less of what they’re bad at, thereby becoming more efficient as an organization and eliminating shoddy work?
I just forgot this one thing: passion.
If the passion isn’t there, it matters little how strong a person is at something.
As an example, I’m good at using Microsoft Excel. In fact, I would venture to say I’m one of the best Excel users at Pivot. However, I have the same reaction to opening Excel on my computer as I do to going to the DMV: I know it has to be done, but I don’t look forward to it.
Imagine if Pivot had taken my advice and put me in my strengths. I’d be working half of my days in Excel, and I’d be miserable.
Looking back on it, I’m glad there were smarter people than me around, who ignored my advice in this matter. Over the past few years, I’ve seen a small handful of people leave our organization because they were doing something they were great at, but weren’t passionate about.
At the same time, I’ve seen one employee follow his passion, do hours and hours of self-study to learn a new skill, and become great at doing work he loves. You could still say we’ve put him in his strength. But you could also say we’ve put him in his passion.
And I believe the combination of passion and strengths is where the magic happens.
Of course, passion alone isn’t enough. I’m passionate about baseball, but I doubt the Mariners are going to be knocking down my door to play third base for them anytime soon…or ever.
But I now believe passion is at least the place to start.