We are often much better at identifying our strengths than looking objectively at our weaknesses, but knowing the areas in which we struggle most is usually the most beneficial piece of information we can have in terms of improving our performance. Whether you are not receiving the marks you were hoping to achieve on a course or not getting the recognition or results you want in the workplace, there are a few things you can do to try to work out where your weaknesses are and therefore give yourself the best chance of improving them.
Ask for feedback
Identifying your own weaknesses doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spot them yourself. You can start by asking friends, family or people you trust to tell you honestly what they think you might need to improve on. Ask for feedback from your superiors at work or your tutor/course assessor. They can provide you with some constructive feedback on your latest tasks. They know better than anyone exactly what it is that they are looking for and in which areas you are not delivering.
Compare marks and feedback
If you are a Student, you will undoubtedly receive feedback on your assessments, which should help point out to you where you are losing crucial marks. Look for consistencies in what has been written about different pieces of work. You may find that a similar comment has been made about a particular area of your work on more than one of the assessments you have handed in. If this is the case, having identified this as a problem area, you should concentrate on avoiding making the same mistake in the future.
In the workplace, you obviously will not be receiving marks for the tasks you perform. However, this does not mean that you do not receive other types of feedback. Think of the areas of your role in which you receive the most praise. It is unlikely that your weakness will lie in one of these, so now think of the other aspects of your role. A lack of praise or comment is not an automatic indicator of a weakness, but it will help you refine your search for both your strengths and weaknesses. You might want to think about areas which you find regularly problematic or you are asked to correct.
Talk to others
We have said to consider which area of your role or course receives the most positive feedback. It is also important to take notice of where other students or colleagues receive their praise and consider how it differs from your own.
Make a list of all the things which you notice they do well, and see if these are areas in which you think you could improve yourself. Compare their work with your own and see if you can spot any differences.
Think of what you do and don’t enjoy
If you find yourself dreading a particular part of a task or an assessment then chances are this is not your strongest area. It is human nature to prefer to do things we are good at.
If a task is taking you a lot longer than it takes others or involves you having to redo aspects before it is suitable, leaving you frustrated, this may be an indication of an area you need to improve.
Once you realise that this may be why you dislike a particular area of your course or your job, then this will help you approach the topic pragmatically in order to improve your performance.