Improving the Professional You in 2017 - Part 1
It seems like the older I get the faster the years go by. I used to kick off each New Year with a list of personal and professional resolutions that would go in effect on January 1st. Like, lose 10 pounds, read a self help book, commit to a more regular work out regimen, invest in training, write down 5 must do goals for each day, etc. That program has served me well over the years. However, just because we’re already 50 days into the new year doesn’t mean it’s too late to execute on new resolutions. What resolutions have you made to improve the professional you in 2017? For some improvement ideas you may not have thought about, please read on…
Part 1: Self Evaluation
An honest self-evaluation is the starting point for improvement and increased success not only in your profession but also in your personal life. Our work-life and personal life are not mutually exclusive and one can affect the other.
We are all a work in progress. Be it in our professional or personal life. In fact, both can go hand-in-hand.
As a matter of good business practices, we all should receive a job review by our superiors and/or peers. The idea is to help us identify where we are exceeding expectations and where we may be falling short. The hope is that we can improve those areas that need improvement.
Unfortunately, whoever does the review usually holds the formal job description as it is believed to be; however, often, the official version and real world version of the job description are not exactly the same. Therefore, if you really want to improve, try the following.
1. Define what your job description really is.
Write out what you view your job description to be in reality. Prioritize those tasks that you feel are most important and take up most of your time and energy. Moreover, how is a job well done measured or evaluated. Next, rate yourself on those priority tasks. Now, rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 (5 being very strong) on all tasks in your self-described job description.
2. Create a survey for your peers and those who you work with the most.
Of course, the survey should be provided to those who can provide valid input and are in regular contact with you in your work-place capacity. Important is to place in the instructions that participants should be brutally honest as the purpose is to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. Those chosen to take the survey should be as unbiased as possible. The idea is for you to improve. Make sure to promise anonymity and give them the survey in a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
3. Compare the anonymous surveys with your own self-appraisal. Identify your strong and weak areas.
If you disagree with some of the findings, accept those of others as the true judgment. Realize that your ego will try to protect you. Without the ability to check your ego, you may limit the value you get from this exercise.
4. Develop ideas to help improve weak areas.
One of the best ways is to identify someone you know that is good in your weak areas. Consider asking them to become your mentors to help you improve in those areas. If it is more a lack of knowledge in these weak areas, then identify what areas you need to research and study.
5. Okay, now comes the hard part: A personal self-evaluation.
We can begin with taking a look at Marlowe’s Pyramid of Human needs. If you are not familiar with this iconic construct, take some time and Google it. Determine at what level of the Pyramid you think you are currently focused on. Are you overly concerned with financial survival or have you moved past that to higher areas of self-realization?
Believe it or not, many weak areas in business can be directly correlated to Pyramid levels. For example, learning how to develop compassion and empathy for others can greatly affect how you relate with others. Sales staff without the ability to empathize with clients or managers tone deaf to the needs and agendas of others are usually not as successful as they might be. In fact, some of the values of the business world may be in conflict with personal values and that situation can set up internal conflict that can affect performance on the job. Indeed, as part of defining your version of your job description should also include an evaluation of what the company ethos is and what rules define the corporate culture. Without a doubt, if we are comfortable with our workplace, we are much more likely to be successful.
6. Often, the person who knows you best can provide valuable input as an outside observer.
If your ego can take it, ask those closest to you to help identify what they see as areas for your self-improvement as a person. Most of us have areas for personal improvement and being aware of what others see in us as needing some work may very well have a positive impact on our professional success.
7. After gathering the information provided from your self-evaluation, do a personal SWOT analysis as it relates to your profession.
Again, self-candor and third party input can help provide information you may not be aware of or choose to ignore.
In part 2, we will discuss how to design an action plan for self-improvement.
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