How to Turn Weaknesses into Strengths

According to the best-selling book Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, 97% of employees are able to identify their career limiting behaviors. And yet, of those 97%, only 10% change their behavior after receiving constructive feedback in a performance review. 

Why is this? Shouldn’t we want to change the behaviour that is sabotaging our forward progress? After all, the road to promotion often lies in recognizing our weaknesses and turning them into strengths. 

Here are some tips on how to do just that.

The Top 5 Limiting Behaviors
Joseph Grenny, one of the co-authors of Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, identifies the top 5 career limiting behaviors as follows:

  • Unreliability
  • An unwillingness to work outside of the scope of existing duties, i.e. “It’s not my job”
  • Procrastination
  • Resistance to change
  • Negative attitude

Other red flags include selfishness, risk aversion and short-term thinking.  

Tip 1: What Are Your Triggers?
What situations trigger your career limiting behavior? For example, do you procrastinate when the pressure is on and the stakes are high? Is this because you fear falling short of the intended goal? Understanding what triggers these unhealthy patterns is the key to changing them. Note the social circumstances, mood and perception of risk that precede the limiting behaviour. Grenny calls these “crucial moments.” The use of the word “moments” is key because essentially, according to Grenny, it’s really about shifting your behavior in a more constructive direction for a few moments a day.

Possible triggers:

  • Fear of failure
  • Not feeling respected
  • Fear of contradicting someone in a position of authority
  • Fear of change (perhaps because you fear not being able to adapt or excel)
  • Not feeling valued or heard

Read: “How to Accept Feedback in Your Accounting Job” to learn how to listen to constructive feedback and grow from it.

Tip 2: Rehearse
Once you’ve identified your triggers, practice changing your response. Called “deliberate practice” by psychologist Anders Ericsson, these times of practicing a skill (and then ideally getting some feedback) can lead to accelerated change. Identify situations that could be moderately challenging, but still provide a feeling of safety, and attempt to reduce your response to the situation. Afterwards, do a mental debrief where you honestly assess how effective you were (or get outside feedback from a colleague or friend who will be honest with you).

To read more about deliberate practice click here.

Tip 3: Make It Manageable
Grenny says that it’s important to create a plan that includes developing skills for managing the emotions that accompany challenging a weakness, otherwise you simply reinforce the negative experience. Finding tactics that make an unpleasant experience more pleasant retrains the brain. This is what allows you to have a different emotional response to an event that would have triggered your career limiting behavior in the past.

Pro Tip: Decide what you really want and how your career limiting behavior is stopping you from achieving it. Whether it’s a key promotion or personal growth, knowing what you want will add impetus to changing the behavior that is sabotaging you.

Key Takeaways
Your triggers or patterns often stretch back into your earliest days. This can make them particularly challenging to change. But understanding the underlying fear behind your triggers and committing to what you really want can facilitate forward progress. Identify opportunities to safely challenge your trigger, and note crucial moments when change can occur. Develop a plan that includes skills for managing the emotions that come with changing a weakness. Fundamentally, this commitment to change can bring with it career advancement and personal and professional growth.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

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