You get your performance evaluation, which lists a whole bunch of things that you’ve done this year, and some strengths and weaknesses. What do you do?
You zoom immediately to the weaknesses. Everything else gets ignored.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing, that Americans want so much to be liked. I’m not sure. But this has happened with every evaluation I’ve written, and it’s a real struggle not to do it myself when a boss gives me mine.
The fact is, you’re usually not going to get as much mileage from fixing your weaknesses, rather than developing your strengths. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t care about pissing off the people you work with. Of course you have to bring those concern areas up to a level where they’re not getting in the way of being effective.
But after that, your primary value to your employer is WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT. Where you excel, where you bring something unique and valuable. If you paint widgets twice as fast as everybody else, that’s more valuable than whether you keep the work area spotless all the time. If you’re talented at resolving conflicts in your team, that’s more valuable than beautiful TPS reports.
Unless, of course, TPS reports themselves are primarily why your job is important.
Here’s how to decide what to spend your time improving: What’s IMPORTANT TO THE JOB combined with WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT. Sure, spend a little time working on those weakness areas, especially if they’re getting in the way of being effective. But other than that, it’s OK. We all have weaknesses.
by Carl Dierschow