Where is your career right now? Are you on or off-course? Are you leveraging your strengths to build a rewarding career, or feeling a bit trapped and doing work that doesn’t energize you? If you are feeling siloed and underutilizing your talents, this article will provide you with strategies to unleash your talent.
First – Identify Your Strengths: What do you naturally excel at? What are your talents?
Get started by identifying your strengths – your talents, things you are naturally good at, and skills you truly enjoy using. This is the first step in rebranding yourself and creating more of the work you love. People that build rewarding careers, readily and often communicate their strengths so they can get work tasks more aligned to their talents.
- Consider your current and previous jobs, as well as your volunteer work: What activities are energizing and engaging?
- Identify your key accomplishments: Review projects and tasks that you readily excel at.
- Do an informal 360: Ask your manager, mentors, colleagues, staff and clients for feedback. Ask: “How do I add the most value to your work or our team? What do you perceive are some of my strengths that I bring to our organization?”
Recommended reading to help you discover your strengths: Marcus Buckingham’s: Now, Discover Your Strengths.
Get Clear: What do you really want?
When we engage in work aligned with our strengths, time flies by. In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this work state as: “the suspension of time, the freedom of complete absorption in activity”. One emerges from this state renewed and reenergized from doing work aligned to their strengths.
Take a moment to analyze what percentage of your day are you engaged in ‘flow’ activities. Weigh this against the amount of time engaged in tasks that drain you. Then, ask yourself: “Am I using enough of my strengths in my current work, or is more of my time spent in tasks that deplete me?” Now, make a choice: Do you want to continue as such, or are you stepping up to develop a more fulfilling career?
Leverage your Strengths: Strategies to Free Yourself Up
Strengths-based work alignment is a strategy many high performance organizations, including Best Buy/Future Shop, use to align employee strengths with key business objectives and related work tasks. But, if you aren’t in a strengths-based organization, you can still leverage your strengths to line up work that is more energizing.
To get more of what you want, identify opportunities within your organization to use your strengths. Look for upcoming projects and committees which need your strengths, or new business processes or programs that you can introduce to your business group.
Next, request a meeting with your manager to discuss your strengths. Outline that you have been working on assessing your strengths, and have identified key areas where you add the most
value to the organization. During this meeting discuss your strengths and provide examples of your results. To help you get started I recommend reading Marcus Buckingham’s: Go Put Your Strengths to Work.
After outlining your strengths, request the opportunity to focus more of your time on tasks related to your strengths, as this is where you contribute most to the organization’s objectives. Most managers will want to support you, but their concern will be: “What about the other job tasks that you are responsible for?”
Address this question by suggesting that selected work tasks which are not in your zone of strength (i.e. your weaknesses) are transitioned to someone on your team that naturally excels in this area. Explain that by doing this the business unit is able to accelerate its overall performance.
Ok, I know you are saying this is could be a CLM (career limiting move)! Maybe yes; maybe no. But more importantly, weigh: What is the cost to you if you don’t ask; if things don’t change?
Most managers want to support your career growth, but they often lack the time to align tasks and projects to optimize your strengths. They need your help. Offer your manager strategies to remedy the situation so they can partner with you to help you get more of what you want in your career.
Good luck with your conversations!
Joanne – JL Careers