Learning How to Play to Your Strengths

Ashlene McFadden

The internet is flooded right now with articles talking about “upskilling” and “learning new hobbies” and “taking online courses to boost your career”.

And, like most people, I’m frantically trying to incorporate some extra training and learning into the day job. Because who knows what the world is going to look like in a few months’ time? At least if I feel like I’ve done some extra preparation, I might stand a chance (!).

During some reading, I came across this HBR article called Why Talented People Don’t Use Their Strengths. And then it struck me. We’re all so busy trying to add crochet, a second language and a musical instrument into our arsenal that we’re not focusing on building upon what we’re actually good at. Which makes no sense, because it’s those skills that are going to propel us forward when things pick up again.

The article poses three key questions that everyone should be asking of themselves right now:

  1. What exasperates you? (e.g. what do you find easy that others struggle with)
  2. What compliments do you dismiss? (how often have you said “Oh, that’s nothing.”)
  3. What do you think about when you have nothing to think about? (e.g. if you keep thinking about something, maybe it’s because that’s something you’re passionate about and good at)

Identifying your strengths has never been so important, because they will build the foundation of your role in the “new normal”. It might not be something you’ve ever considered yourself to be particularly good at – a sure sign of innate talent – but it might be something that could really help your team or your employer flourish.

Whether it comes naturally to you, or it’s something you’ve had to work hard to get good at, it’s crucial to know just what exactly you bring to the table.

Many people have had to pivot their roles right now. With businesses putting large percentages of staff on furlough, suddenly the receptionist absorbs the marketing duties or the HR person has to take on some payroll. And, nine times out of ten, this isn’t a thoughtless decision or because they’re the only one there to do it. It’s because that person is suited to the dynamics and attributes of the role they are being asked to cover.

As an employee, now is the time for some introspection. What are your core skills and how can they benefit your role? As a team leader, take a look at your team. Is everyone suited to the role they occupy? How could they be better positioned with the team (or, indeed, the wider business)? As an executive team or board, do you have the right managers leading your teams? Are you “playing to win”?

I understand. It’s hard to put your head above the parapet and say, “I’m really good at this!” but it’s important that we are able to recognise what comes naturally to us (and, conversely, what needs work). It can also be awkward to tell a loyal team member that their strengths lie elsewhere. These are difficult conversations in already difficult times.

But we need to be having these conversations, for the sake of our future successes.

I’m pleased to say that HRC Recruitment are using this time to invest in their employees and put in the groundwork that will best prepare us for a return to “normal” work.

I can’t wait.

If you would like to speak to me about hiring Accountancy & Finance talent for your business or you are in need of career advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Click here to get in touch.

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