Monday, August 1, 2011

Should You Focus On Your Strengths At Work?

A lot of people talk about coming from your strengths and working at a job that capitalizes on your strengths. There are others that speak about remediating your weaknesses. What is right? What is practical? The reality is that neither focus is completely right. Why do I say that? Well, because I work with people in my coaching and consulting practice and I know that this is not the reality of most people’s work situations. Jobs are not usually designed around a person’s strengths. They are usually designed around business needs. Besides, if you polled every working person, most would admit that they all have elements of their jobs that don’t play to their strengths AND they cannot necessarily turn over those aspects to another person. Some aspects of their jobs have required them to stretch beyond their comfort zone and gain skills and strengths that they were unaware they had.
On the flip side if you focus only on what you need to remediate, it can be very self-defeating and counter-productive. The balance is in understanding what is required in your job, what you are good at (strengths), what you are not as good at, what the job and environment requires of you, and what do you need to do to successfully navigate your career.
There are tools to succeed at work – some that you may currently not give the level of import that is necessary to progress up the ladder. While there may be other competencies that might not be as obvious to you that if you understood – you would devote time to. Over the next number of months I will write/blog about the Tools to Succeed.
Join us over the next number of months in this journey as we explore together the Tools to Succeed and take charge of your career applying the right tools. In the meantime, leave a comment, ask a question, and check out our website to sign up for email updates.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Navigating Politically

Some of my clients do not enjoy navigating the political environment in their organizations. However, I am convinced that understanding and navigating the political environment within your organization is just as important as the technical aspects of your job. Why do I say this? I say this because I have observed people who do it well are often promoted, even when they may not be as talented technically. People who know, respect, and navigate the political environment have an advantage.

There are many different elements necessary for achieving success at work. Otherwise you might inadvertently detonate a political landmine. I myself did this once, and from that point forward I made it a point to understand the political environment to the best of my ability.

What are some of the elements of successfully navigating politically? One aspect is to understand the power structures within an organization both the obvious and hidden. For example, an individual can be very powerful without a formal title. I know individuals who are at a lower hierarchical level, but they wield a tremendous amount of power because they have a steady, ongoing audience with an individual(s) in a position of power.

If you have been thinking that office politics are beneath you – I encourage you as I encourage my 1-1 executive coaching clients to think again and begin to see this as an integral part of your job.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Performance Falls Short of Expectations

In previous blogs we have explored performance in the context of not giving the supervisor what they need or have asked for, and we have also discussed how most jobs are not designed to match the person’s strengths. In this blog, I’d like to focus on the supervisor and ways he/she can effectively deal with the internal struggle of a poor performer.

When performance issues surface, it is frustrating – to say the least. If you are a supervisor, you might do a classic “take-back”, or you might hover in hyper-vigilance in an attempt to avoid and/or catch the mistakes. If you are a co-worker who has been impacted – you may have the experience of smoldering frustration.

As a supervisor, a "take-back" is when you take something back that was on the employee’s plate and you move it to yours or to another employee. If you take the task back and give it to a co-worker - this action can cause the smoldering frustration to build to higher levels – depending on the situation. I’ve been guilty of a “take-back” or two myself, so I know just how hard it can be to allow someone to fail, but hovering and taking back are not always good solutions – for obvious reasons.

One way of addressing the situation can be exploring if there is a communication gap. A communication gap can cause things to get off kilter. It can even appear as if there is a performance issue, when it is actually a matter of communication, not performance. For example, I recently met with my team and learned that in setting goals some of my team members are visual and they need/ want a written plan that clearly articulates how they are going to achieve their objectives. For these team members the overarching objectives needed a more clearly defined way to reach them. I don’t need this, so I completely missed the need.

It is also important to recognize that in some ways performance is subjective rather than objective. A match to the supervisor is important. This can potentially be learned by the staff member, but sometimes they need the encouragement and guidance of their supervisor or the assistance of a trained coach.

Just remember if you are a supervisor poor performance is usually felt beyond you, so it is critical for you to successfully lead yourself through this in order to provide the leadership necessary for your team.