Voice of RB First Women: The challenge of encouraging people to reach their potential

It’s always a problem, when managing staff, to identify those that can and want to, from those that can’t and want to, and finally those that can and won’t!

This is, particularly so for a baby boomer like me, to handle the aspirations and dreams and desires to generation X and Y. These generations have a quite different view on personal and business achievement from me and even from each other.

Business success is based on a great mix of people, and getting the best from them, playing to their strengths, and helping them manage their so called weaknesses.

A challenge is first of all:

  1. Gaining an understanding of perceptions and desires; and
  2. Resisting the urge to enforce your own aspirations onto the others.
No one can find this easy, I certainly don’t. As a self-confessed control freak I like it my way, in my time, and find it difficult to manage the alternatives.

I have read that M&S once stated that for every 35 members of staff, you need a dedicated HR person. True or not managing talent appears to be a job you must have an aptitude for and support and training to boot.

My own small business isn’t at this staff level yet, though we would hope to be. But even with the ten staff, managing and nurturing them is becoming more and more time consuming.

What I have recognised is: this activity is not something I am best suited for. I haven?t got time, but frankly I don’t have the inclination either. This isn’t due to a lack of care. Indeed it’s the opposite: I just can’t do this operational role. The best thing I have done in the last few months is appointing an MD and moving myself in CEO role. Although technically little difference in the meaning of the job title, what we have done is split the managing role to suit the needs of myself and my new MD. So far so good?

Well she had had to take things off me kicking and screaming, as I have behaved, but skill and determination have proved her right. As such, we appear to have a more engaged team and hopefully by implication a more successful one.

Long may it last.

Jo Haigh is head of FDS corporate finance services and the author of The Keys to the Boardroom – ‘How to Get There and How to Stay There’.

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