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How to Leverage Your Weaknesses in the Workplace

How to Leverage Your Weaknesses in the Workplace
Weaknesses are a part of life. We all have them.
Contrary to popular belief, weaknesses are not the same as areas you want to develop—at least not in the context that we are talking about here. Think of strengths and weaknesses in terms of performance, energy, and use.
 

Strengths vs. Weaknesses

 
Strengths are those things you enjoy doing. Strengths:
 
  • Energize you
  • Make you forget time
  • Are something you look forward to
  • Are things you do well when under pressure or tired
Weaknesses are the opposite of strengths. They are things you don’t like doing. Weaknesses:
 
  • Deplete your energy
  • Make you feel drained
  • Seem to take forever to complete
  • Aren’t something you look forward to
  • Require a lot of effort and self-control to do well

Now, every job comes with tasks that cater to our individual strengths and weaknesses. The ones that involve our strengths are generally easy to do because we find them exciting and energizing. But what about the tasks that trend to our weaknesses? How do we find ways to accomplish those?

 

Leveraging Your Weaknesses

There are four keys to leveraging your weaknesses at work.

Key #1: Know your weaknesses
 
If you don’t know which job tasks are a challenge for you, then it’s going to be impossible to address them. Get to know yourself.
 
Here is one way to start: Pay attention to how you spend your time. What tasks comprise your workday? As you go through your work week, write each one down. At the end of the week, go back through the list. Highlight the ones that you look forward to. Then, see what remains. Most likely, it’s the tasks that you dread.
 
Look at the highlighted ones. What are some common themes? Do all of these tasks involve interacting with your staff? Or, are they solitary assignments that you work on alone? Do they involve attention to detail or big picture thinking?
 
Review the unhighlighted tasks and ask yourself the same questions. What do you notice about the tasks that you do not enjoy?
 

You have just taken the first step toward identifying your weaknesses.

Key #2: Learn to recognize strengths in others
 
Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from those who are different from you! If you struggle with tasks that require attention to detail, start spending time with people who excel at this skill. If interacting with other staff members presents a challenge for you, spend time around “people people.”

Watch the way they work. Absorb, ask questions, and take notes. What do they do that makes these tasks so easy for them? Are they process-oriented? Do they have tools and techniques that you could employ?
 
Be humble enough to learn from them. You’ll find that, with time, some of your weaknesses may even become strengths!
 
Key #3: Team up with people who have strengths where you have weaknesses
 
First, recognize others who have strengths where you are weak. Then, work with them!
 
Odds are, they have weaknesses where you have strengths. Trade tasks and share the load. By reciprocating, you can each use your strengths to build a stronger team.
 
When you do this, you can both focus on tasks that give you energy, which is better for your organization. And, there’s nothing wrong with working as a team. In fact, many studies show this is the best way to get things done!
 
Key #4: Join a group
 
Groups are a great place to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. They provide a safe setting for you to get to know yourself and others. In groups, you can practice learning from others’ strengths and sharing your own in a humble and considerate manner.
 
In many ways, groups can serve as a training ground, allowing you to practice before you take your newfound skills into the workplace.
These are just a few ways that you can leverage your weaknesses in the workplace. But, remember that strengths and weaknesses change with time. So, it’s important to periodically re-evaluate and identify what is giving you energy and joy in each season of life. Then, adjust course and tackle your new sets of strengths and weaknesses.

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