Using Your Strengths at Work

Using Your Strengths at Work

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  1. Learners will be able to find ways to use their strengths at work.
  2. Learners will be able to explore careers that might suit their strengths.
Think back to the first lesson of this course. What were your strengths when you took the strengths assessment?

When you think of self-improvement, you might picture ways to improve upon your weaknesses, but in reality, we are the best versions of ourselves when we lean into our strengths. In this lesson, we'll talk about using your strengths in your current job, as well as looking at careers that are a good fit for your interests and abilities.

Using Your Strengths at Work

Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses

While we can learn from our failures, it's much more fun being successful. That's why we're drawn to things we're naturally good at, like specific sports, hobbies, and activities. Similarly, we're also drawn to particular tasks at work. While we can't always choose how we spend all of our time at our jobs, we tend to want to spend more time on the things we're good at.

Read the scenario below and answer the questions that follow.

  • Elaine and Sebastian work in a doctor's office as office assistants. Their jobs are to answer the phones, greet patients, update patient files, and manage billing. Elaine likes her job, but she hates answering the phone. She's shy, and she always feels like she comes off rude when she can't think of things to say. Sebastian loves to answer the phone, but he feels like it takes him forever to find the file he's looking for when he has to update patient files. Elaine prefers updating patient files to most of her other tasks.
How do you think Elaine and Sebastian should divide tasks at work? Should they focus on their strengths or their weaknesses?

Growth opportunities are important, but if Elaine and Sebastian put their energy into tasks that made them uncomfortable, it also might make them miserable. By focusing on their strengths, the pair will be more content and more productive in the office.

When we focus too much on improving our areas of weakness, we tend to lose sight of what we were good at in the first place. Instead of wasting energy trying to improve on your weaknesses, consider making yourself even better at the things you're already good at.

Limit the time you spend on weaknesses

In the scenario, Elaine and Sebastian are lucky to be good at different things. But what happens when we can't share responsibilities with others? While it would be nice to spend the whole day focused on our strengths, in most jobs, there will be tasks you must accomplish, whether you like them or not. You need to make time for these nonnegotiables without sacrificing your day to work that doesn't make you happy.

You can't just ignore important parts of your job, but you can create defined windows of time to focus on them so they don't bleed into the rest of your day. Here's how it works.

1. Decide which tasks feel uncomfortable

At the beginning of the day, make a list of the things that you don't like doing that must be done. Try to include everything important you need to do so you can work straight from the list later on.

Try it! In a normal workday, what are the tasks you MUST complete? Only include tasks that you do not like working on.

2. Set time limits

If you work as efficiently as you can, how long will your list of tasks take you? In general, you should spend no more than 25% of your day working on your weaknesses. That's 2 hours of an 8-hour workday.

Try it! Look back at your list from the last question. What's a reasonable amount of time to complete all the tasks on your list?

3. Set a timer

Spending two straight hours working on things you don't like may seem intimidating, so divide it into smaller pieces. Do you feel like you could work on your list for 30 minutes at a time? An hour? Set a timer for whatever you decide and get to work! The goal during this window is to focus on your list and knock it out so it doesn't hang over your head for the rest of the day.

4. Spend the rest of the day working on your strengths

With your must-do list complete, you can spend the rest of your day working on the things you're good at. Use the extra time to be creative and productive!

With your must-do list out of the way, what are some tasks you can work on that you might not have had time for before?

This method has several benefits. You get to spend more time at work doing what you're good at, and the parts you dread have a clear beginning and end. This actually allows you to be more productive overall. You are your best when you're working on your strengths, you are at your best, so spending more time on them is beneficial for you and your employer.

Exploring Careers Based on Strengths

One of the best ways we can guarantee that we get to use our strengths at work is by choosing a career that suits our strengths. There are a variety of tools that exist that can help you explore different careers based on interests and level of preparation.

Click the button below to take the Career Interest Profiler assessment. Then, answer the questions below.
What strengths did the Career Interest Profiler identify for you?
What careers did the assessment suggest that sounded interesting to you?
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