10 Non-Traditional Ways to Increase Your Professional Effectiveness
How do you know when you’re getting in your own way of succeeding? How can you tell that something you do rubs people the wrong way? When is it time to re-evaluate how effective you really are?
Many of us go day to day without being aware of a particular performance behavior, mannerism or habit that is holding us back or perhaps even annoying the living daylights out of our co-workers. These are commonly called our blind spots – what everyone else can see but we are oblivious to. Opening our eyes to our blind spots (and we all have them) is essential to making breakthroughs in our professional development and can ultimately lead us to greater career success.
The traditional approach is to get feedback from others. Let’s face it, there are only a few people you can count on to give you honest feedback. So here are 10 non-traditional approaches to help you identify the blind spots that inhibit your personal effectiveness:
Look at the worst thing that happened on your last project
Even if overall it was a smashing success, identify the problem spots, why they happened and what role you played in it. Don’t just ask what you did that led to that undesired outcome, also consider what you didn’t do that could’ve prevented the situation.
Look for consistent call outs in your performance reviews
Do you even know where last year’s performance review is? Have you ever taken time to compare your reviews from year to year? Look for common themes or patterns that supervisors call out regarding your opportunities to improve.
Listen to your boss instead of tuning him or her out
Creative, huh? Truth is, our first tendency can be to attribute repetitive feedback from bosses to their own pet peeves or insecurities. But they could be on to something. They may indeed be idiosyncratic or insecure, AND they may also be right.
Be aware of your style and notice your surroundings
Start to notice, I mean really notice how others are reacting to you. Don’t just announce your brilliant idea during a meeting and move on without noticing people’s non-verbal reactions to you and what they say in response. If you’ve never taken a personal style inventory, do so! For simplicity and effectiveness, check out Personal Styles and Effective Performance by David Merrell and Roger Reid.
Step outside your personal context – see the world a different way
Be willing to put a different pair of glasses on and look at your performance from the outside in. How would YOU view you if you could see a video tape of your behavior during a meeting, when giving a presentation or coaching an employee? What would your best friend tell you after viewing the video? How about what your grandma would say about your behavior?
Examine the running joke everyone makes about you or that one thing you always get teased for
There could be some grain of truth in the remarks. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names may provide information I should listen to. Consider the times you may have used humor yourself to make a point to a friend or co-worker.
Back off from your strengths
You read this sentence correctly. We often fall back on what we know we’re good at and what feels most comfortable at the expense of going outside our comfort zone. Once you figure out what you’re uncomfortable practicing, you’re probably on the path to identifying a critically missing skill and uncovering a blind spot.
Notice what’s out of balance
On a scale of 0 – 10, rate your skills and competencies you need to perform well at your job or leadership qualities you want to develop. Then, look at what needs to shift – what do you need to work on so that you have the right tools in your tool kit – so that you are equipped with what you need to succeed.
Take a good look at your values
Clarifying your values gives you a map to guide your decisions. It can also expose points of conflict that are keeping you from exploiting your talents to their fullest. Ask yourself, am I honoring my values? This isn’t a moral question, it’s about alignment. If you’re operating in a way that’s in conflict with your values you’ll feel tension and discord. This lack of alignment blocks you from performing to your full potential.
Listen to your inner voice
Be brave enough to face that thing you push to the back of your mind. The one thing you always say, “I don’t have enough time/resources/energy to deal with that now, I’ll work on that one later” Why not embrace that “one thing”? Give it some room to breath and tell you what you need to do for it to rest in peace? When WILL you change your limiting behavior or face the nagging issue that’s easier left unattended to unobtrusively foil your sense of well-being and success? You are actually a wise and resourceful individual if you listen to yourself!
I know uncovering your blind spots sounds scary. There’s a reason we don’t want to take a good look at them. But remember, it could lead you to change the one behavior for the better that’s been keeping you from winning that project assignment you’ve been lusting after, getting that next promotion, or maybe even realizing your full career potential! So keep an open mind and open eyes and good luck!
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