How To Find Your Strengths & Weaknesses At Work & Feel Good About Both, According To An Expert
Even though New Year's Day is in the past, it's still January, which means it's perfectly acceptable to keep thinking about ways to improve your life in 2019. Chances are, even if you've decided on a workout plan you're excited to try and already made some goals to improve your mental health this year, perhaps you haven't given much thought to shaking things up at work. Figuring out how to find both your strengths and weaknesses at work can sometimes seem like a long shot, but an expert explains just how to find confidence on both ends of the spectrum at your job.
Nicole Ng, a senior research scientist at Lumosity, a gaming app designed to help improve your memory and attention, tells Elite Daily how you can use the platform's brain games to find out what occupation matches your strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to use those strengths and weaknesses to help you grow at work.
The first step to figuring out what your strengths are is taking the time to reflect on your current position, Ng explains. Really think deeply about what you love about your job, and what you wish you could change, she suggests. Ask yourself, if you were to review your current job description, what parts of it would you no longer do?
It could also be useful to expand your definition of what, exactly, a "strength" is. Instead of only thinking of things that you are innately good at, you can also make a list of tasks you love, skills you've learned in previous jobs, or even character traits that help you perform well at work, Ng explains. "You can be strong in many ways: work expertise you've gained from experience, plus your mental skills and traits," she tells Elite Daily. If, for example, you've figured out that you're really passionate about helping people, see if there are any nonprofit initiatives at your company, or round up some of your co-workers for a volunteer project. Not only will the work benefit someone else, but it could also help you connect with other people at your company, and help give you a sense of fulfillment that might get you through the more mundane days.
As an app that tests different skills, Lumosity could be a good guide if you really have no idea what you're good at. "As part of Lumosity, we provide an occupation insight that ranks your cognitive strengths and weaknesses based on your performance on our cognitive games for various professions," says Ng. For example, if you work in an artistic field, you might perform better at visual search games as opposed to quantitative reasoning tasks, which could be an area to improve on to become a more well-rounded employee.
The next step is to understand that, just because you might identify an area of weakness, that doesn't mean it's necessarily a problem. "When it comes to success at work, people aren't just 'smart' or 'not smart,'" says Ng. "We like to think of the importance of fit between your specific capabilities and the ones that are used in any particular role. The same skills and qualities that make a stellar lawyer might handicap you as an entrepreneur, etc."
If, for example, you've been struggling to summarize data or facts into written reports, consider conveying the information in a different way. Ask your manager if you can try creating graphs and charts in a PowerPoint presentation, or ask a co-worker if you can explain the information to them directly before you write anything down. What you might have seen as a weakness for writing might become a real strength at creating compelling visuals or at giving presentations.
If you've identified a particular strength that you want to build in the future, start small by incorporating it into regular projects. For example, if you discover that you're really strong at communicating one-on-one with clients, volunteer to call up someone whose business is meaningful to your company and meet for coffee. Your skills for customer service and networking could help you understand any problems in the business relationship, and you can use what you learn to inform how the company works with the client moving forward.
"It might not be easy to ask for someone’s evaluation of you and your work, but it’s an essential part of career development," Ng adds. "Top times to ask for feedback are during an annual review, before an important meeting or project, and the small moments that occur every day when it is appropriate to ask for feedback." Make sure, if you're asking someone to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, that you don’t just focus on the negatives, but also take the time to ask what you've been excelling at as well. This might even be a great time to ask your manager if there are any extra tasks that you might be a good fit for, and consider adding them to your regular role.
If all of this sounds stressful, make sure that you integrate a mindfulness practice into your life, suggests Ng, so that you might have an easier time receiving the feedback and integrating it in a productive way. Just make sure to give yourself a regular pat on the back for all of your hard work, and maybe bake something sweet to bring into the office every once in a while to celebrate your growth.