In the first part of this article, I wrote about some methods that can help us to understand ourselves better and to determine our improvement points and strengths in a more accurate way. Consequently, we managed to collect some critical information about who we are. Now, we have to combine what we have learned, to harvest the advantage of it.
In this article, I would write about:
– How to determine our target,
– How to use personal SWOT analyses for categorization,
– How to prepare the Action Plan.
What do I want? Let’s determine our target:
Ask yourself what you actually like doing, note down what you are successful in, and think about your hobbies. Also look into your personal inventory to get a deeper understanding of what kind of jobs suit to your personality best. Usually these kind of inventories has a section that lists some appropriate job alternatives for you. By doing these, we can gain awareness on the career paths that can make our lives more satisfying.
For instance, if you like to interact with people, It is better to choose jobs that you can do this most of the time, such as sales, customer relations and human resources. If you like to innovate and work on new ideas, you can prefer jobs such as R&D, process improvement and arts. Choosing a job suitable to your personality helps a lot to live a successful and happy life.
I have watched an interesting animated movie named “Turbo”, which introduces us a snail, who is interested in Motorsports. He totally believes that he can achieve to travel at great speeds, and if he really wants he can succeed in this field. Other creatures around, remind him that this is out of the question as it is not in his nature. In this fantasy movie, he works hard and succeeds in the end.
However, the real life is generally very different than fictional animated movies. Unless we are blessed by a series of very extraordinary events appearing in our lives, our natural and personal characteristics are the primary factors in choosing our career paths.
I explained the competence rings in my earlier article, however, I want to remind an important detail about them once more (please check the figure below): the outer rings are easier to change and improve. However, as we go towards the inner rings, the possibility of improvement and change greatly decrease, even if we spend much more energy. You cannot change the inner rings easily. For this reason, knowing your personal qualities and making your choices in accordance with them will provide more efficient and effective results.
If you feel like your job does not suit your personality, please consult your manager.
We have plenty of information at hand now, so we can categorize our weaknesses and strengths by using the SWOT Analysis1.
Strengths: Write down your positive capabilities and competencies (These must be your personal qualities, ex: goal-oriented and high success rate of task completion).
Weaknesses: Write down your weaknesses (These also must be your personal characteristics, ex: poor time management skills).
Opportunities: In this area, evaluate the environment and write down what you see as opportunities (These are factors that are not dependent on you, ex: frequent training programs provided by the company.)
Threats: In this area, evaluate the environment and write down what you see as threats2.
SWOT Analyses 4
Prepare your Action Plan:
Now, you have to make a concrete plan for improvement. TOWS is helpful to convert your findings into action plans that also include deadlines5.
Use TOWS Analysis:
Strengths and opportunities: Which of the opportunities I must combine with my strengths to succeed? 8 Ex: I am good at learning languages and there is a language school close to my house. So I can aim to learn a new language.
Strengths and threats: How can I use my strengths to deal with threats? Ex: Your company is acquired by a German company, and from now on it becomes a necessity to speak German fluently. In this case, you can use your language skills to deal with this threat.
Weaknesses and opportunities: “How can I reduce the effect of my weakness by using the opportunities around me?” Ex: You cannot speak German but you have a language school close to your house.
Weaknesses and threats: In the events that we are weak and there are also threats, we can take “defensive” actions. The strategies that will be used in these events do not target the achievement of success, but they aim to minimize the damage8. (However, we may also make some improvements that can assist us to reach a beneficial solution in the long run. Generally the primary method for doing this is developing our qualities that are weak.)
Moreover, you can approach weaknesses in 3 different ways7:
1) Improvement Strategy
You may get rid of your weaknesses or improve your strengths even more. For instance, if you are not successful in making presentations, you can read some books on the topic or you can attend some workshops to learn the tricks.
Trainings and development programs are generally the most preferred methods in self improvement. However in cases those are not relevant or enough, you can also work with a competent coach or mentor.
2) Substituting Strategy
You may use one of your strengths to overcome or diminish your weakness.
For instance, if you are not good at making presentations, you may use your wittiness to help you triumph over it.
3) Going Around Strategy
You can go around the task by getting help from your colleagues. You may prepare the presentation document and let someone else present it on behalf of you. Or you can let your colleague prepare and make the presentation, but you can verbally add some important points to it during the presentation, as a co-presenter or the team leader.
You cannot be good in everything. Researches have shown that we can only be good at 4 or 6 different fundamental fields7. Do not forget that you have to prioritize your actions to improve yourself. I suggest to start with the most critic fields and work on mostly 3 different areas each time.
Actually, you will have to decide on three things: Which actions to stop, which actions to continue and which actions to improve6?
There is an important point to keep in mind: Sometimes one of your strengths may also be one of your weaknesses at the same time. For instance, if you are outstanding as a goal oriented person, because of your passion for achieving results, you may also be destroying your relationships with your colleagues or putting too much pressure on your team. So be careful while preparing your action plan, and find the real roots of the problems that cause your weaknesses6.
Learning agility is an important leverage for self improvement. I will write about this topic in my next article.