How to manage or mitigate your weaknesses

How to manage or mitigate your weaknesses


By Kim Seeling Smith –

Whenever I talk about strengths (and I do a lot because research shows that your ability to play to your strengths within a job is the number one indicator of success) I inevitably get the question, “What about my weaknesses?  Should I just ignore them?”

Of course not.  It’s not realistic to think that you will ever had a job that allows you to only do tasks that play to your strengths.

So what do we do about our weaknesses?  Marcus Buckingham, one of the prominent researchers and advocates of the strengths movement says that spending just two hours per week doing more of the things that make you feel strong (his definition of a strength) and less of those that make you feel weak will significantly increase your productivity, success rate, and (not coincidentally) your job satisfaction.

He also suggests the following to manage or mitigate your weaknesses.

Stop doing them

Just say no – and see if anyone notices.  What would happen if you stopped going to those meetings that you constantly complain about?  Would anyone really notice that you weren’t there?  What would happen if you stopped filling out those reports that you’ve been doing for ages – that no one looks at?  It’s amazing how often new meetings are called, processes started and reports created – for very valid reasons at the time – that are never re-evaluated to determine if they have outlived their usefulness.  Test the boundaries, you will quickly learn if your presence really is missed, that report needed or that process still an important one.  And if it is, keep at it.  If it’s not – just stop doing it.

Share the burden

Find someone for whom this task is a strength and work with them.  After all, many hands make light work.

Trade a weakness for a strength

And while we are on trite (but true) sayings – one person’s trash is another’s treasure.  So too, one person’s weakness is another’s strength.  Find someone for whom your weakness is their strength and vice versa and then trade.  What if there isn’t an exact match up (and there rarely is in the real world)?  Well then bribery might work just as well.  If you hate doing expense reports, find someone who will do them for a weekly lunch treat, movie tickets or a bottle of wine.  Be creative.  And don’t feel guilty about trading or giving others a task that you hate to someone who loves to do it.  You’re doing both a favour.

Look at the weakness in a different way

Changing the way you look at a weakness might just make it more palatable.  For instance:

  • Does it matter what time of day you do those things that you hate?  I have to do detail work first thing in the morning – get it done and move on.
  • Does it matter why you do what you do?  I find invoicing (again, detail work) much easier to deal with if I imagine money coming in the door (along with a new pair of shoes!) – rather than thinking about poring over a mound of receipts and figuring out which client they belong to. Thinking about a higher purpose could turn something that’s drudgery into something that’s exciting.
  • Does it matter whom you do these things for?  You may hate public speaking – but find yourself much more motivated to do it if you are passionate about persuading a specific group of people.
  • Look at it through one of your strengths.  I’m fairly competitive (shocking I know).  Back in my early accounting days I used to have to get up at 5AM on Saturday mornings to get into the company I worked for and process payroll by 10am.  This was long before the days of the computer so I had to add up manual time cards using a 10 key.  I HATED doing this, but LOVED challenging myself to see how quickly I could accurately add up a time card, then a group of time cards, then the whole payroll.  Within six months I found myself looking forward to doing payroll.  I got a slight thrill out of my wicked 10 key skills (which still aren’t half bad!).

No, it’s not realistic to think that you can have a job that solely plays to your strengths – but you can have fun with trying to manage or mitigate your weaknesses.

Try these suggestions and report back to me – I’d love to hear how you go!

Kim Seeling Smith

Kim Seeling Smith is the Founder and CEO of Ignite Global, a consultancy whose mission is to deliver the much needed breakthroughs in attracting, engaging and retaining staff in today’s Social Age.

If you are interested in learning more, contact me now.

AU    612 9953 5655
US    1-512-333-4587


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