The most successful people continually learn, grow and change in their careers. Whatever be your skillset, it is highly likely that it will not be enough for future employability. The best way to hedge your future income stream is to acquire continuously new skills.

Some of us don’t face our shortcomings and make excuses, blame the boss or the job for our Achilles heel. Others are defensive and ferociously counter any corrective feedback. And not to forget the segment of the population, that is reluctant to do anything about their weak spots, they just wish that it would go away with time. Here are some time-tested tips to get over this syndrome.

Know where you stand

The first step in the journey of continuous learning is to move from being unconsciously unconscious about your strengths and development areas to being consciously unconscious.  Start this by getting 360-degree feedback or a poll of 10 people who know you very well. This will give you detailed feedback on what you do well and what you don’t do so well. And what your interaction group wants you to do more of and less of.

Sort the feedback

Once you have collated the feedback from your interaction group, sort it into the following categories

  • Clear strengths – Me at my best
  • Overdone strengths – I do too much of a good thing
  • Hidden powers – Others rate me higher than I rate myself
  • Blind spots – I rate myself higher than what others rate me
  • Weakness – I don’t do it well
  • Untested areas – domains where you did not venture before
  • Don’t know – You need more feedback on these behavioral facets

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Prioritize the feedback

The next step is to find out what’s necessary for your current job or the next two-three career opportunities, Compare the top needs with your appraisal and how you stack against them. After that, you would get a handle on what are the most important areas to be worked on.

Tone down your overused areas

Overdoing strength makes it a weakness, for example if you are good at analyzing and figuring areas of improvement, and this strength comes into play in every interaction with your team members, your team members may brand you as being negative and someone who always finds faults. This is the most unintended consequence of using a strength, which is well developed. You need to be cognizant of the implications of using that strength. Work to get the downside of your strength to neutral grade, so that it does not hurt you.

Development areas or weakness

Knowing that you are weak at something is half battle won because you will work towards supplementing the deficiency by either learning new skills or getting help from others to fill up. The best way to handle development areas is by scripting a development plan, which involves three key milestones

  • Stretching tasks in which you will develop the skill
  • Getting continued feedback to help you understand the progress
  • Ways you can cement the learning so that it becomes a habit

There is one more way of dealing with weak spots, we are all poor at something or other, having an over focus on this area alone is counterproductive. Instead of working directly on it to build it as a strength area, you can find an indirect way to compensate it by hiring people with the missing skill sets or by restructuring your current responsibilities. Remember you were hired for your strengths and keeping it honed should be your first responsibility.

Jappreet Sethi

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