From 360-degree evaluations to personality testing, there are a range of tools designed to give your company and you deeper insight into where you shine and what makes you tick.
Those can be important, but there are also a number of clues all around you that can give you similar insight. Look for these five simple indicators that can help you think through where your skills are rock solid and where they might need some shoring up.
Because people tend to gravitate toward activities in which we are strong and avoid areas of weakness, researcher Tom Rath, author of Wall Street Journal bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0, says it’s a good idea to tack how you’re spending your time over a period of a few typical days as well as how you feel during those activities. When you feel happy and productive, it’s likely you’re operating in an area of strength.
Tasks that take too much time or are unpleasant may be weaker areas. Then, the decision becomes whether to work toward improvement or find a way to delegate them, he says.
Lisa K. Tesvich, Ph.D., president of Inspire True Leadership, a San Diego, California, executive coaching firm adds that business leaders should be spending at least 20% of their time on areas like developing strategy, building teams, and communicating their vision. Evaluate areas that are taking too much time, as they may be a sign of weakness and an indication of tasks better suited for someone else, he says.
When people talk about you or give you praise, what do they say? Are you "so smart" for figuring out a tough business problem or "such a great person" for helping team members overcome their personality issues? If you’re repeatedly getting unsolicited praise in a particular area, it’s an indicator of a strength, Tesvich says.
Where are you blowing it or spending too much time fixing errors? If you’re devoting time to fixing work that you’ve done, it may not be your strong point, she adds. Look at the tasks and also the big picture. What’s causing the errors? Is it your performance in that area? Or do you have an organization or scheduling issue that needs to be resolved. The root cause of the mistakes is your weakness indicator.
What part of your work do you love to talk about and what is the focus of most of your complaints? We typically like to talk about areas of strength, Rath says.
"Look for the times when you were at your most productive, where you go home and you have more energy and you like talking about what you’re doing. Those are really good clues to specific activities that you can do better than anyone else while achieving more satisfaction in the process.
While it’s not exactly self-evaluation, those closest to you can often give you a good read on what your strengths and weaknesses are. Rath says that sometimes after people take his StrengthsFinder assessment, it identifies areas they never really saw as their strengths. But discussing that with a friend or family member can put it in context or give examples.
Those closest to you are often privy to both details about your professional life as well as your personal life, quirks, and peccadilloes. However, such comprehensive insight can lead to feedback that’s both enlightening and deeply personal. Be sure to ask for—and be prepared to receive—candid feedback.