Updated: Oct 2, 2020
I’m a big believer in focusing on one’s strengths.
I was once at an education conference in South Africa, and the question was posed: "If your kid is getting an A for English and a D for Maths, do you send them to extra Math or extra English classes"?
Naturally, there was a debate, but my mind is made up: if I have a child in that scenario, I hope I send them to extra English classes. I feel similarly to work: focus on what you’re great at, don’t keep working on your weaknesses. In the same breath, be aware (very aware) of your blind spots, or else you’ll be tripping around like Alice in Wonderland.
We, in the working world, have this obsession with a one-on-one with a 'Boss' or 'Manager'. This need for affirmation from someone who doesn’t often work with you is a thorn in my side, and rather archaic in nature (an opinion not shared by many, yet).
Why not generate true insights from your direct colleagues, instead? This notion of a 'boss' having the power to 'grow your career' and the ability to make any remark they deem 'appropriate' is one that baffles me.
I feel that we should value the people we work with daily, value the mentors we take inspiration from, value our own opinions - and take control of what we want to understand more (to benefit our own careers directly).
New Ways of Work and Design Thinking methodologies are the cornerstone of unlocking this personal growth - they enable us to get to know ourselves better by giving us the tools to understand our BRIGHT SPOTS and BLIND SPOTS. Here's how ....
Run retrospective sessions with your team monthly, and ask this:
What am I doing that is speeding us up?
What am I doing that is slowing us down?
What have you observed about my input and value? (BRIGHT SPOTS)
What have you observed about my way of work that I should remain aware of in order to grow? (BLIND SPOTS)
Accept the feedback, but focus on your BRIGHT SPOTS. Keep the BLIND SPOTS in mind, and challenge yourself to build on your BRIGHT SPOTS as much as you can.
As an example, I'd like to share a BLIND SPOT that a colleague recently highlighted for me that has enabled me to speed up:
As a Kaleidoscope team, we run monthly feedback sessions, similar to the construct I shared above, and a colleague pointed out that a BLIND SPOT for me is repetition.
Yes, I speed the team up by introducing something new, testing it, trying it and running retrospective sessions on it however, I slow the team down by not being able to repeat the experiment, consistently and methodically, for a second time, never mind a third time. I'm an 'idea person', but the experimenting again and again isn't always my ball game. This wasn't something I'd realised before, so I had a proper 'A-HA' moment.
Luckily, for every BLIND SPOT, there is an opportunity for a workaround. And, after I received this feedback, we were able to channel this into a new way of work. When it comes to experimentation, we now work in pairs. We take documentation seriously, create a ‘handbook’ for experiments that are both won and lost, and utilise tools, like Miro, to visually map things out. We build skeleton maps so that other team members can repeat the same experiment - and use it, change it, or add their own flare to improve it.
Another step, is that we now ensure that check-in’s and regular 'setting expectations' sessions are worked into a roll-out of a New Ways of Work experiment - with sufficient knowledge sharing along the way.
With thanks to this feedback from my team, I was able to acknowledge a working BLIND SPOT (one that I've realised sometimes pops up in my personal world too) and found tools and solutions to mitigate any risks ,or frustrations, for my team - as well as any other stakeholder I work with. I’m no better at the BLIND SPOT, it still exists, but I have been able to develop self-awareness and create tools to give me a deeper sense of self-understanding.
My message: build primarily on your BRIGHT SPOTS, be transparent about your BLIND SPOTS, and turn them into moments of BEAUTY. Use New Ways of Work, it works.
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