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Need a Self-Assessment? Here Are 2 Great Questions to Ask Yourself at Work

Need a Self-Assessment? Here Are 2 Great Questions to Ask Yourself at Work

We may think of ourselves as rounded individuals who are good at most things at work and even-handed in our dealings with people. However, the reality is that most of us have significant strengths and significant weaknesses both in job competence and in people skills. This matters.

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    The trouble really occurs when people are blind to their weaknesses. This is particularly true for managers and the more senior the person the greater the danger if they are oblivious of their faults or in denial about them. So how can we detect our faults? These two questions will help provided you follow the procedure.

    The second question is the really powerful one but the first question helps and makes it easier to ask the second question and get an honest response. You can ask the questions of a colleague, of your boss or of somebody who works for you. The key rule is that you cannot disagree in any way with their answers. You cannot enter a discussion. All you can do is thank them for their response or possibly ask for more detail and then thank them. Explain this process to the other person before asking the questions.

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    Here are the questions:

    1. What am I good at?
    2. In what areas do I need to improve?

    As a manager you will learn a great deal about yourself and your management style if you ask the people who work for you these questions in such a way as to solicit honest feedback. Their perceptions are realities. What they see is what you are — for them. Once you know your own weaknesses then you can put in place plans to compensate for them. Some of the weaknesses might be simple behavioral issues — for example, you do not give enough feedback and praise to your staff. Once you know this you can make a point of fixing it.

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    I recently worked with the CEO of a small recruitment company with 30 employees. He had founded the company and built it up. He had great difficult in delegating. He wanted to micro-manage every aspect of the business. He was smarter and more experienced than most of his employees so he was continually tempted to intervene in their work and tell them how to do things. The positive thing was that he was aware of this problem and welcomed ideas on how to solve it.  We put together a plan to help him to delegate more, to empower his staff and to gradually let go.

    If for example you are good at communication and strategy but poor at administration and detail work then it is best to recognize this. For core competences you should build on your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. Don’t spend more time on administration — spend less. Get someone else to do the paperwork while you can concentrate on the things you are good at.

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    To be more successful you need to be honest with yourself, start by asking these two questions. Quietly assess the answers and then make a plan to build on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.

    Featured photo credit: Question Marks via Shutterstock and inline photo by Colin K via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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