I grew up playing sports — every sport you can imagine.

My parent’s philosophy was they didn’t care what we played, as long as we played something and had fun. Thinking back, the skill set I brought to each sport was relatively the same — fast hands and fast feet. While playing soccer I was a goaltender because I could move quickly and catch anything. It was the same for basketball and volleyball, but it was during softball season that this trend became the most evident.

You see, I played centre field and I could run down and catch any ball that came into the outfield. In the same breath, I can honestly say that I was a terrible hitter. After years of play, it was a running joke that my best bet to get on base was to bunt and run.

After doing this a couple of times, my coach decided to make me the lead-off hitter. In softball, no one ever expects the first batter to bunt. So imagine everyone’s surprise when I was able to catch them off guard, get on first base, and then proceed to steal both second and third! My team would be in a scoring position just 3 pitches into the game.

Looking back, what my coach did was simple — he turned my weakness into a strength.

This concept is often overlooked, and people’s challenges and weaknesses become the focus. When this happens, major opportunities are missed. I know I’ve been talking about sports, but it’s the exact same thing for small business.

Are you turning your employee’s weaknesses into strengths? 


My coach knew my poor batting average, but also knew I had a 100% success rate at stealing bases. Without seeing the numbers, making the call he did would have been guess work, and based on his perception of what he witnessed during our games.

As an employer, you can measure employees using SMART objectives on a balanced scorecard, and through conducting feedback surveys and on-the-job assessments.

Peter Drucker once said,

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

While I don’t completely agree with this statement, I will say that measurement helps you to determine the effectiveness of your management. Based on the changes my coach made, I know my batting average increased and I scored more runs!


So many companies only talk about performance once a year.

Can you imagine a team coach only addressing performance at the beginning or end of the season? Of course not. It’s after every inning, and every play.

It can be as simple asgreat catch” or keep your eye on the ball”.

Performance management has to be continuous and deliberate in order to be effective. It is human nature for people to enjoy doing what they are good at, so ASK people what they want to do.

Have the conversation — you will be surprised to see how this simple question will help you identify strengths and weakness, and ultimately opportunities.

The old school, once a year process will not work. Learn more on this topic in my recent post, Why You Should Ditch Your Performance Review Process.


Yes, you heard me — stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

If an employee is good at one thing and not another, get them working on what they are good at. I recently had a client with a team member who really excelled at the business development side of things, but really struggled when it came to the execution part.

We figured out a way to get that particular person working on business development 100% of the time, and do you know what happened? The team increased their revenue by 35%. Putting people where they excel will often result in a more cohesive team that’s comprised of employees who feel valued and dedicated to the organization.


Every good HR strategy includes some kind of reward for performance.

How are you going to thank your employees for their performance? Remember, this doesn’t have to be monetary — although it doesn’t hurt!

Expressing your gratitude for a job well done is important, and it can be as simple as a quick email or shout-out during a team meeting. If you are having difficulty getting your employees motivated, connect their performance to a bonus or annual pay increase.

In the end, you need to ensure your HR strategy and performance management approach align with your company’s culture.

If your company is traditional and formal, have  more structured and detailed processes. If you have an agile and fresh culture, make sure your strategy is flexible and progressive. Either way, be deliberate and transparent in your approach — your employees and your bottom line will thank you.

 Sarah Mullins is the founder of uptreeHR, a Halifax-based human resource consulting firm that is passionate about helping business owners manage their people, set clear expectations, and increase performance. We truly believe you can treat your employees well, create an amazing culture, and not break the bank.

 To book a complimentary 30-minute consult with Sarah, click here.

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