A false dichotomy, for sure, since the wise manager addresses a report’s above-normal and below-normal characteristics. Still, how pragmatic is it to lean toward one pole or the other? I favor pushing someone’s stronger traits. What good will we see from raising everyone to average?
Aside from voicing that bias, let me raise some tangential points for you to marinate. How accurately does a manager identify someone’s “strengths” or “weaknesses” if both have much to do in actual fact with the person’s position (See my post of Oct. 8, 2005 on position’s determining success.) If all of us operate at different points on spectra of measurable behavior, what privileges any particular mix? (For more on psychometric instruments and law departments, see my posts of April 18, 2005 on MBTI scores of lawyers, April 9, 2005 on Hartman-Kinsel, and Aug. 21, 2005 on MBTI, and Oct. 21, 2005.)
On a different tack, isn’t the implicit assumption that a given strength or weakness either benefits or harms the company – but then, how do we know the company’s needs? It also seems arguably true that some people, by their personality or psychological makeup, can absorb and construct from criticism, whereas others cannot.