Every working person in the world excels in some areas and struggles in others. While some of us are natural experts at organizing spreadsheets, others demonstrate impressive talent with writing, design, budget management, making sense of complex data, remembering names and faces, or motivating teams. When we’re asked (often in an interview setting) to list and describe our greatest strengths, most of us can answer quickly and accurately.
But the same rule doesn’t usually apply when we’re asked to list and describe our greatest weaknesses. These are the skill sets that we’re not so proud of, the areas in which we seem to struggle up the ladder one painful inch at a time, gaining very little reward for a disproportionate level of study and practice. Most of us don’t think much about these areas, and when these tasks need to be addressed, we’d rather hand the responsibility off to almost anyone else in the room. But if you’ve been living a state of avoidance regarding these sore points, now may be a great time to turn the tables and face them head on. Here are a few moves that can help.
Determine what they are.
Be honest with yourself. As you move through an average working day, which tasks do you dislike the most and which do you hand off whenever you have an opportunity? Which ones would you rather avoid for the rest of your life? Look closely; as a common ego defense mechanism, you may tend to casually undermine and dismiss these tasks in order to convince yourself that they aren’t important. But they are. Pretending otherwise won’t help you grow.
Face the facts.
If you’ve placed “typing” on your list, or “accepting criticism” or “interacting with customers”, it’s time to focus your full attention on this task for at least ten minutes each day. Start by reading a few articles or seeking advice from someone close to you who excels at this task. Turn your attention toward experts, mentors, and potential role models. Watch them work and listen closely to any guidance they have to offer.
Put your lessons into action.
When you’re ready, start taking the things you’ve learned and applying them to real-world situations. If you dread public speaking, now is the time to start volunteering for easy speaking opportunities. If you dread giving negative feedback to your direct reports, start offering gentle corrections and constructive criticism.
Determine how far you’d like to take your skill set within one calendar year. When it comes to this area of knowledge or skill, where will you be and what will you be doing this time next summer? Break your larger goal down into smaller goals that you can reach each month, and then each week.
For more on how to tackle and overcome your skill deficits, consult the career management professionals at Lift Temp.