Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

2.2. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of individuals within a group / team

ryanrori February 7, 2021

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If you can identify members’ skills in a team, you will be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. 

Make a list of skills, dividing them into three categories: 

  • Knowledge-based skills. Acquired from education and experience (e.g., computer skills, languages, degrees, training and technical ability). 
  • Transferable skills. Portable skills that one takes from job to job (e.g., communication and people skills, analytical problem solving and planning skills). 
  • Personal traits.  Unique qualities (e.g., dependable, flexible, friendly, hardworking, expressive, formal, punctual and being a team player). 

As humans, we find it relatively difficult to identify the areas where we are weak. Therefore, it is going to be difficult to ask the team members what they regard as their weaknesses. 

Perhaps they do not know, or perhaps they want to make a favourable impression on the team leader. 

In assessing weaknesses, think about the areas and skills they could improve upon. 

From this analysis, you will have a road map that shows you how to capitalise on members’ strengths and minimise or eliminate weaknesses. You can then work with team members to create realistic expectations regarding their roles and advancement opportunities. You can also use this map to plan how to empower them to become the best they can be within their chosen career path.

As we have seen earlier, a key tool in the strategic planning process can also be applied to determining strengths and weaknesses, namely the SWOT analysis. 

Imagine your SWOT analysis to be structured as follows: 

  • Examine the individual’s current situation. 
  • What are his/her strengths and weaknesses? For example:
Strengths
Internal positive aspects that are under control and upon which one may capitalise in planning 
Work experience 
Strong technical knowledge within a field (e.g. hardware, software, programming languages) 
Specific transferable skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, leadership skills 
Personal characteristics (e.g., strong work ethic, self-discipline, ability to work under pressure)
Weaknesses
Internal negative aspects that are under one’s control and that one may plan to improve 
Lack of Work Experience 
Weak technical knowledge 
Weak skills (leadership, interpersonal, communication, teamwork) 
Negative personal characteristics (e.g., poor work ethic, lack of discipline, lack of motivation)
  • How can s/he capitalise on the strengths?
  • How can s/he overcome the weaknesses? 
  • What are the external opportunities in the current career field? For example:
Opportunities
Positive external conditions that one does not control but of which one can plan to take advantage 
Positive trends in his/her field that will create more jobs (e.g., growth, globalisation, technological advances)
  • What are the threats in the current career field?  For example:
Threats
Negative external conditions that one does not control but the effect of which one may be able to lessen
Negative trends in his/her field that diminish jobs (downsizing, obsolescence)

Management Strategy

Throwing a group of individuals together does not make them into a team any more than tossing a pile of bricks together makes them into a house. Building an effective team requires careful planning as well as active management. Here are some suggestions for creating teams who get the job done:

  • Consider team members individually when choosing them. (Consider their strengths and weaknesses) – It is vital to choose team members with the right range of skills for the project, but it is also necessary to choose people who are interested in the project and have the time to devote to it. As you consider potential team members, be sure to take into account the responsibilities each potential team member already has. Make sure that no one is overloaded unduly.

Also think about past personality conflicts, as well as existing relationships between team members. Most managers know it is not a good idea to team up employees who have been known to get into intense arguments. There are other issues regarding team selection as well. For example, if a newcomer is added to a team that has worked together before, he or she will naturally be viewed as an outsider and will not be as effective as possible. Instead of letting this kind of situation happen, try to form an entirely new team for the project or give the newcomer a project of his or her own.

  • Make sure each team member understands his or her role – You may know exactly why you chose each person for the team, but the employees cannot read your mind. Spell out exactly what you need each team member to do so that the team will not waste time delegating tasks or arguing over who should do what. When each person on the team understands his or her role, there will be less conflict and more productivity.
  • Designate one team member as your contact person – This person will report to you regarding the team’s progress and come to you with any questions or concerns. Doing this will ensure that you will not have to hear the same information from multiple team members. In addition, it will encourage team members to communicate with the contact person. This helps make sure that team members communicate with each other rather than working as individuals.
  • Be clear about the duration of the team – Is this a work group that will continue to function for years to come, or is it a task force that will be dissolved when the project is complete? A team that will be together for the long haul needs to work on optimising issues such as workload and delegation of tasks. On the other hand, a team organised for a specific purpose just needs to focus on getting the job done, even if it is not done in the most efficient way.
  • Define goals for the team – A team with a well-defined, measurable goal will be more productive than a group of people who wonder what they are supposed to be doing. When you set goals for the team, be sure to make them realistic and measurable. Explain exactly what they are expected to do and give a date by which you need it to be completed.
  • Continue to monitor the team’s progress – Employees are generally more effective as teams than as individuals, but that does not mean your job as a manager ends once the team is formed. Continue to monitor the team by asking for formal updates from your designated contact. Also, get more casual information by finding opportunities to ask each team member how the project is progressing.

If a team member is not pulling his or her weight, you may need to have a meeting with that person and find out what the problem is. If the team is running into logistic difficulties, you will need to see what assistance you can offer. Perhaps the team’s goals will need to be modified or deadlines will have to be extended.  On the other hand, a successful team that completes its goal early may be able to take on additional assignments.

Teams, like individuals, will have struggles as well as successes, and just like individual employees, teams can benefit from a caring manager who is involved.