In a recent conversation I was sharing a story with a mentor and friend about how I handled a difficult moment in a facilitation.  As I reflected back on how I reacted to the individual causing the problem in the session, the outcomes, and how some of my facilitation work in the past year prepared me she shared with me a reflection of her own:  Scott, you have increased your capacity to manage a space filled with many different perspectives and voices.

That word caught me off guard.  I started my career in a capacity planning role worried about the output of a steel mill and then 80+ injection molding machines.  It was a very familiar word for me, and yet it was one that I had only use with very physical and definable assets . . . And I like it!

If you are focused on your own ongoing growth of skills and knowledge, or have a team of people that you are helping prepare for future roles or challenges, this is a word that you should add to your toolbox.  Here are two examples of conversations where it could be valuable:

  1. Preparing a team for change: What is the capacity of this team to handle this change?  What will it require of us?  What proven skills and talents do we have?  What is one area we need to increase our capacity?
  2. Your own development: What part of your job are you “at capacity” and feel like you cannot possibly have any more to give?  What part of your job are you avoiding because it is unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and/or undesirable – but important?  If you added 10% capacity in that area what would that look like?  How can that be accomplished?

Coaching is about increasing capacity in clients.  I get great satisfaction when I hear people say they see themselves differently and, as a result, are able to navigate situations effectively that would have tripped them up in the past.  One of my all-time favorite books on development is Mastery by George Leonard.  Inherent in a journey to mastery is a commitment to always be open and able to increasing your own capacity.

Capacity is a tried and true manufacturing word, and a great word for the world of managing talent in an economy putting so much emphasis on the knowledge and capacity of people.

How does the term capacity show up in your conversations today?

What other words are cornerstones to your talent conversations?

mini-trU Tip: The only way to know your true capacity is to exceed it because you push the boundaries.  That was true when I first started my career worrying about the capacity of equipment, and it is equally true as I enter the second decade of a career focused on the capacity of people.  A good topic for another blog posting . . . .


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