Corporate Culture, Jill's Thoughts, Personal Development

Zone of Genius

Many words and phrases have infiltrated my vocabulary on a daily basis. If you’ve spent time around me, you probably heard me say things like:

  • Squirly
  • #nofilter
  • Oh my hell
  • Granular
  • Zone of genius

While all of these words and phrases represent a little piece of my personality and personal culture, one of these has helped me to develop my business and entrepreneurial efforts. 

Zone of genius: An area of responsibilities in which you excel above other possibilities. 

zone of genius chart

Every entrepreneur has their strengths and weaknesses. There are areas in which we excel, and areas in which we need to hire capable people to perform. Understanding your strengths, or your zone of genius, is essential. By understanding your strengths, you know the areas in which you can provide the most value to your organization. Likewise, each of your employees has their own zone of genius. If you can match an employee to their specific zone of genius, the value they are able to create will increase substantially.

How do you determine someone’s zone of genius?

To be quite frank, there isn’t an easy answer here. No quick test or question can be asked that will immediately identify the specific strengths, or weaknesses, an employee may have. There are several things you can do, however, to help you determine this vital information.

1. Personality tests

One of the fun ways I have used to get to know my employees and their zone of genius a little better is to have them take comprehensive personality tests. Most recently, we had each of our team members take the HBDI Personality test. These tests help to identify how our brains work and process information. While some are more data focused and think logically, others are more creative and free thinking. Understanding these critical traits about your employees can help you communicate more effectively as well as identify tasks or areas in which they are more likely to perform well. 

Use a personality test early in an employee’s employment to get a baseline and idea for their though process. By doing this early, you will have a good starting point for learning their zone of genius and how you can best utilize them to create value for your customers.

2. Team Meetings

If you never interact with your team members, you’ll never learn about their zone of genius. It is by engaging directly with your employees and discussing their projects and assignments, ideas for innovation, and their challenges and struggles that you come to understand their zone of genius. Strengths and weaknesses pronounce themselves through the work your employees complete. As you meet with them, look for commonalities in areas that they excel in. Also look for areas where they struggle. This will aid in placing them in a role that will yield the best results for the organization. 

Do not expect this process to be quick. Understanding the zone of genius of another person takes time and effort. You will need to spend considerable time getting to know your people to understand how they can best aid in your company’s success.

3. Trial and Error

Sometimes you hire a person that isn’t a good fit for your company. Whether they can perform the work or not tends to be irrelevant as there are also other issues regarding their employment leaving both the employee and employer unsatisfied. Sometimes, however, you hire a person that is an excellent fit for the organization, but not a good fit for a specific role. While there are times in which you may need to part with this employee, often there are opportunities for adjusting their work content to fit their strengths. While an employee may struggle in data entry, the might excel in marketing or other creative roles.

Use a trial and error approach can be frustrating for both the employer and employee. It can also turn poor performance and morale into a situation in which everyone is happy and thriving. If you have an employee that is struggling that you aren’t willing to give up, try testing their aptitude for other tasks. Check to see if you have them in the wrong place. 

Understanding your employee’s zone of genius will help you get the most out of your employees while maintaining productivity, morale, and satisfaction in the workplace. Take a moment today to analyze how well you know your current employees. As always, if you have any comments or questions, be sure to drop me a line, and I’ll do my best to respond. Have a great day.

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