Don’t Let Your Professional Handicap Get in the Way of Your Work.

The further you move up the career ladder, the more difficult it is to identify – and then fix – your personal and professional deficiencies. Why? How to identify your weak points and eliminate them?

This post originally appeared on the Help Scout blog .

You might think that leaders are particularly good at identifying and removing obstacles . But, as career coach Marshall Goldsmith explains in his book What You Do Here, You Won’t Get It: “We receive positive reinforcement from our past successes, and when we take a mental leap that is easy to justify, we think our past success is is a predictor of great success. things in our future. “

In other words, we believe that we are where we are because of how we and what we did in spite of it. In many cases, this is a misconception. Our flaws hold us back, but it doesn’t have to be.

Disadvantages that you can’t see

If you have not achieved enlightenment, chances are you have at least a few unidentified, unresolved deficiencies (often referred to as “blind spots,” although I prefer the term “out-of-the-way” because it’s a less eiblistic way of referring to shortcomings, large enough. to cause your career to slip out of the way).

The further we move up the career ladder, the less these deviations from the rails are associated with “hard skills” and the more likely they are of a personal and behavioral nature. You may not be aware of how negative you are in meetings. Maybe you’re apologizing rather than taking responsibility. Do you value righteousness over efficiency? Demanding a loan you don’t deserve? Can’t listen? Act like the rules don’t apply to you?

If you think, “Of course, but it’s just me,” that is also a rollback.

Over time, Goldsmith says, it’s easy to “turn our flaws into virtues simply because flaws make up what we think of as ‘me.’ This mistaken commitment to our true nature – this overwhelming need to be ourselves – is one of the greatest obstacles to positive long-term changes in our behavior. “

What tricky little excuse machines are our brains! We are so good at minimizing how others perceive us, not to mention how good we are at identifying others’ shortcomings over our own. The good news is, you can ask for and act on honest feedback in a way that will help you overcome these potential career disruptions.

Why is it difficult to get feedback?

Even though you know you can use feedback, it can often be difficult to ask for advice or advice. Why?

1. We don’t want to know

The point is that our demolitionists are holding us back, whether we admit them or not. Claire Liu, CEO of Know Your Company , says some of the more frequent refrains she hears from CEOs are, “I don’t know if I want to know everything,” or “I feel like I’m opening a Pandora’s box.” She tells them that yes, they may get feedback they don’t necessarily want, but the reality is that “these things exist whether you decide to reach out to them or learn more about them.”

2. We don’t want to look incompetent

Leaders are particularly concerned that when they ask for feedback, they give the impression that you don’t know what you are doing. “If you’re the kind of person people turn to for answers but don’t have the answers, then your team may not think of you as a strong leader,” says Nick Francis, CEO of Help Scout . “As a leader, you always make big bets, make assumptions and take risks about a product, a market, or whatever. This usually does not provide an opportunity to ask for advice. “

3. Nobody wants to be a messenger

Once I begged my best friend to tell me about my weaknesses, about those that I could not see for myself. She didn’t want to talk. “How can I change for the better if I don’t know what I’m doing wrong?” I pressed. “Some conversations are better off,” she told me. People do not want to be negative feedback carriers because they are afraid of negative consequences.

This is especially true when the feedback seeker has more power; who wants to tell their boss that they have a bad temper? We expect the recipient of our review to think we are confused or wrong and discredit our message. We expect them to take it personally and defend themselves. It doesn’t take a complex cost-benefit analysis to decide that it is easier to put up with this behavior than to speak openly.

How to get critical feedback

So you can’t just go to your team and demand to find out what your weaknesses are. They probably won’t tell you, and (let’s be true) if they did, you probably would be defensive. Instead, follow these steps to get honest and actionable feedback on what you could do better.

1. Ask questions

Lew advises to be “genuinely curious” about your own areas for improvement. “The answers only come when you ask questions,” she says, and the more specific the questions are, the better. Asking a teammate: “What weaknesses do I miss?” you are unlikely to get to the point of asking, “What could I do differently in my daily life to improve communication?”

2. Frame feedback as advice

“It’s always scary to call it ‘feedback,’” says Liu. Instead, she recommends asking specific questions, such as, “Do you have any advice on how we should conduct recruiting at the company?” or “Do you have any advice on how to prepare for meetings with our clients?” This method works because people love to give advice. “Everyone likes to think of themselves as an expert and share their point of view,” says Liu.

3. Just say “Thank you”

When you receive feedback, at the moment it is tempting to respond – to defend yourself, explain, judge, apologize, whatever. Resist this urge. “Just listen without interrupting,” Goldsmith advises. Don’t finish the other person’s sentences or let the attention be distracted by something else. The only thing you can say is thank you.

4. Write it down

One way to listen without judgment is to write down the advice you receive. “Even if you’re not keeping records by yourself,” says Lew, “it shows the other person that you are taking into account what they say, that you are not just asking for the sake of asking.”

How to use your feedback

This is the hardest part: once you know what’s going downhill, you must act to pay tribute to the people who were brave and honest with you. (Otherwise, good luck getting honest feedback again.) Make the decision to take action. Share your plans for change with others so that they can help hold you accountable.

When Katie Atkins, founding partner of Metis Communications , decided to move from the firm’s Boston headquarters, she did not expect the kind of resistance she received from her team, who thought they would lose touch and suffer the job. “It really amazed me,” says Atkins. “I have always valued my work and personal relationships and didn’t think they were the result of physically sitting next to people.” However, after the first injection, Atkins learned advanced methods of working remotely – reading books, communicating with people from other remote companies, and learning about technology. It worked. “I really appreciate the time spent face to face,” she says, “but I am also proud that our team has the opportunity to move and continue to work with us.”

By following these guidelines, you show your team that you not only respect their opinions, but also value them highly enough to make real change. “The people who can truly contribute the most to their company and those who have the most impact on their colleagues and customers,” says Lew, “are the ones who get feedback and then react almost immediately.”

Without completion, it doesn’t matter.

If you want to make a big contribution to the development of your company and make a positive impact on your colleagues and clients, you cannot ignore your renegades. Find out what they are and then start the process of change.

For example, despite a mentor’s advice to step away from the keyboard and wait at least 12 hours before giving critical feedback, Nick admits that he still has a hard time emotionally about the little things at the moment. “It could be something five pixels off, and I really lose shape,” he says. Although he no longer engages in lengthy email speculations or counterpoint essays, he says he can still get annoyed in chat and say things that he later returns to apologize for. The “12-hour rule” was “incredibly valuable,” says Nick, but “I still have to train it all the time.”

“People don’t get better without follow-up,” writes Goldsmith. “Consistent observation approximately every month shows that you are serious about the process, that you do not ignore the opinion of your colleagues.” By regularly checking yourself and your team about your progress, you go from knowing what you need to change to actually changing it.

Don’t let your professional handicap get in the way of your work | Scout help


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