• Lisa

Create Opportunities for Genius Work

If you could focus on ONE thing all day, what would it be?

What do you love to do AND you're SO good it at that the ideas and the energy just flow? Do MORE of this...what I like to call your GENIUS WORK.

What about your team members? If you are responsible for a team, do you know how the people on your team would answer this question?

What people are good and what they love to do aren't always the same thing. When I'm talking about this with clients I jokingly give the example that even though I got top marks in calculus, it wasn't something I loved to do. While you likely can't provide your team with the chance to do their genius work, and only their genius work, all day long, knowing what it is can help you build in opportunities for people to do more of it.

I asked employees this question at a design firm I worked with recently to learn more about what people loved to do, both personally and professionally. As part of our introductory 1-1 interviews, I simply asked 'If you could do ONE thing at work all day long, what would it be?' and then I asked them the same question about their time on weekends.

This was designed to help the partners create more opportunities for their staff to get into their genius mode, and to plan team building and celebrations that drew on people's interests. It also provides insight into how people would design their days - interacting with people, solitary activities, in the office, off-site, etc.

If as a leader, a manager or a mentor, you know that Jill loves project administration, Anna loves giving presentations, and Andre would work on spreadsheets all day long - and they are good at it! - you can help create opportunities for them to do more of this work.

Communicate this so your team understands that while they likely can't do only their genius work all day every day, you will work with them to create more of these opportunities for them to shine. Remember 'one person's junk is another person's treasure?' While one person's dreaded work is another person's genius work.' Same idea.

This is a win-win because when people feel understood and listened to, and are working in their flow more and more, their commitment, their creativity, and their productivity go up. Happy people, happy project teams, happy clients.

When you are planning company team building, or celebrating together, connect what you are doing with what people love to do. If what most people love to do in their own time are activities outdoors, get people outside whenever you can. Just because other companies are taking teams axe-throwing doesn't mean you need to, if, for example, what people love is all about food. Doing a mock cooking competition together can be just as challenging, fun and bonding as axe throwing, and better yet if it connects to people's interests.

Great companies are made up of great teams. And every team is made up of individuals with their own dreams, passions and challenges. Hiring the right individuals AND keeping them is critical to success. According to the recent report ‘Help Wanted’ by the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the costs (includes interviewing, training, reduced productivity and lost opportunity costs) associated with employee turnover is 30-50% of annual salary to replace entry-level employees, 150% for mid-level, and a whopping 400% for high-level or highly specialized employees. Ouch!

Don't wait until the exit interview to find out what Lorraine really loved to do and how she wanted to grow professionally... and will now do at your competitor.

Get to know the people on your teams. Help create the jobs they want to keep.

Be the leader people choose to stay with.

About the Author: Lisa Hardess is an accomplished coach and planning consultant who has worked with teams and communities, adults and children, to support the transformation of their professional and personal goals using a combination of strategic action planning and critical mind shifts. Lisa has worked in consulting, education and not-for-profits with people in teams, workshops, and one-on-one for over 15 years. She has a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Education, a Master of Science in Planning and Development. Lisa can be reached at lisa@lisahardess.com


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