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Life is a learning process and this involves a lot of interactions and interpretations to evaluate one and evolve as a better person. The observations made by the superiors, colleagues and self have enabled me to identify my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Below is a brief discussion on the same.
Strengths just do not mean the obvious job skills one has. It means the resources a person has, to tackle a situation. These could be things like knowledge gained through a hobby, ideas absorbed from sports, family background, and sense of humor and much more. Developing a list of a person's strengths is a time killing process as inherent skills may not be recognized as strengths until specific situation brings them on action. Similarly, strengths in dealing with a situation may not be so when a person faces other issues.
My strengths are best derived while at work. I could identify my strengths, whenever a task was assigned to me. My immediate response would be to step forward and ask the requester for his / her objective behind this task and his / her expectations out of this particular task. This has always helped me enhance my ability to focus on structuring my tasks and giving optimized output.
This reminds me of a past instance at my work place where, there was difference of opinion emerging within the team, under the supervision of a colleague of mine who was nominated as the Acting Team Lead (ATL) of the month. ATL was a concept brought in to enable the team with team leading experience. The differences emerging had led the team into a cold war. This is a situation that no supervisor or any superior would desire his/her team to be in which might cripple the performance and relationship of the team. When this started to be visible, I was asked by my General Manger to handle the team until the issues were resolved.
This task was critical for me, as this responsibility was given to me by my GM. He set his expectation and told why he chose me and I had to live up to his expectations.
Since I had been with the team for more than two years, I was confident that I would be able to crack the puzzle. I had to be cautious in approaching the team. A wrong move or decision could turn things around for the worst. Hence, I decided to break ice by meeting every individual of the team to get a better perspective of the issue. This way, I was able to analysis the core issue and come up with a resolution to resolve the particular issue. I initiated a "fish on table" activity for the team, where everyone from the team was allowed to speak their mind out and discuss their issues. This activity helped them understand each other and sort their differences. Post this activity, the bonding of the team was further strengthened. There was a visible change amongst the members of the teams approach toward tackling any issue. They wouldn't wait for a third person to come and resolve their issues; rather they started walking up to each other and sort the issues themselves.
With this particular incident, I was able to identify my strengths. When my GM looked up to me to handle the situation, it showed his faith and confidence in my problem solving techniques. A one to one session with my GM made me realize that I possessed a greater level of patience. I realized some of my strengths through this particular incident, which were my approachability, decision making, ability to negotiate and solve problem.
It may be very easy to identify a person's weakness, but it takes far more objectivity. For example, showing sympathy on a person's problem is a very good human characteristic, but if it exceeds, it may cause problems in leading a team. As in the case of STRENGTHS, it is important to be aware of all your weaknesses while dealing with an issue and also to know which weaknesses could be related to a particular situation.
Some of my weaknesses that I would like to work towards is to improve my area of expertise i.e. my knowledge on MS office applications. This was necessary for me to understand and put to ease the complexities involved in my work. I also would like to bring about improvement in attaining best possible control over my emotions, to incorporate the skills attained to improve my social networking and to put to best possible use, my creativity.
The main culprit to be blamed for this absolutely is the lack of time. Due to which, I am most of the time unable enhance my knowledge as mentioned above.
Once, I planned to dig to the roots of my weakness, and approached my supervisor to give me a feedback. That's when I realized that I couldn't say 'No' when I had to say it.
Let me quote an incident which is fresh in memory. One fact that was brought to my notice during a feedback session was, I had the habit of going out of my way to help others even when I was piled up with so much of work for the day. I would land up myself doing the extra work not oblivious of the fact that if I took even a smallest of extra work, I would miss my deadlines. This began to affect my regular deliverables. Knowing the fact that an adjoin on work would affect my regular deliverables, neither did I say "No" nor did I seek help. Though I had an opportunity to say no or to get the time lines extended, I did not do so. Instead I ended up extending my shift. After this feedback from my superior, I knew I had to change myself by working towards this issue to overcome this particular weakness of mine.
It is important to examine a problem in its entirety and also to identify the opportunities that may exist in it. A simple example is that of a production manager who has to lay off workers in order to reduce the production due to a fall in demand for the product of the company which he works. This is a problem. However, if he is updated of the happenings of his industry and the economy, he can use this problem as an opportunity to optimize the operations and prepare for product enhancements for the future which the market will require at that point of time.
Similarly, I believe that my strengths could be my gateway for opportunities. I consider every challenge that I come across as an opportunity to learn. This would enable me to tackle different situations, undauntedly. I always try to learn from my own mistakes, as well as from others mistakes too. This has helped me narrow down my mistakes and even to correct the mistakes which I have already done.
To me, approaching people to understand their requirements and providing them with the desired output is one of the strengths. According to me, this is a quality which can be put to use for the advantage of the others as well me. This trend not only creates a great visibility but also enables me to understand things better and look at things from a wider perspective and from different angles.
This reminds me of an instance where in all the managers from different departments were asked by the SDL (Service Delivery Lead) to work on analyzing the attrition trend for their respective spans. The SDL also informed the managers that they could approach me for any kind of help with regard to data or for any details required for the analysis. At this moment I realized that I was noticed by my SDL and my capability to work efficiently was made transparent, by him to others. I also realized my way of working turned my strength into an opportunity of getting to know more people from the hierarchy, to widen my network and provide me the opportunity to work with all LOBs (Line of Business).
Every circumstance has its own threats. The one who faces it has to recognize it and gather his strengths to tackle those. Similarly, threats are easy to identify. But differentiating the "impossible" and the "unlikely" among them may be a difficult task. The "unlikely" is the one that often turns around to make you mad. It is the unexpected threats which could be the greatest danger than the obvious ones. Knowing the fact that the unexpected may suddenly occur and a pre-existing knowledge of one's strengths allow for most effective response to these situations.
According to me, everything is a threat - My strengths, weaknesses and opportunities
My way of approaching people to understand their requirements creates visibility, which my competitors could find threatening and try to persuade others to go against me. This is a potential threat that I experience.
I recall an instance when I was recognized for my hard work and dedication in many occasions. I was rewarded point and vouchers as gift as an appreciation for my hard work. My competitors started envying me for getting recognized. They started stretching their shifts and began to work on weekends as well to gain attention. For which they succeeded to some extent. When I noticed their behavior and actions, I realized that I had become a threat to them and that was a threat for me.
In another instance, I had to take calls of our clients. Since I had no experience in taking calls, I found it difficult to understand their accent. This was a threat as the other were either well trained or had prior experience in taking call before they joined. Knowing the client and understanding them was the most important part of our job. Since I lacked such an understanding with the client, I was given the least importance when it came to attending client calls.
Emotions are one of the weaknesses that can be exposing me to a threat of being misused. As I very easily get carried away emotionally, people could take advantage of me and get me to do things for their selfish motives.
It is important for one to identify his/her strengths and opportunities, and work towards enhancing them at the same time; it becomes equally important to work towards improving the same to overcome threats and weakness.
One of the strengths if feel is important and would add value or become an added advantage is to gain my supervisor's reliability / confidence in me. As an individual, I was successful enough in gain my supervisors and co-worker's confidence on any kind of work given to me. However at a supervisor level it was still verified. This could be due to the importance of the report or data or else it could be that I couldn't gain his/her complete confidence. I had to work on this and had to overcome by improvising an improvement plan or a strategy and reach the point of confidence where my supervisor would give me complete authority to send report without he / she cross checking.
I intend to approach my supervisor and talk to him about the same. ask him to observe my work for a week and only once he is confident in me would send the reports directly to the concern departments or people. To achieve this I plan to adopt a strategic way of doing my work. This can be achieved by looking into each and every details of the given task, identifying the areas of modifications or areas which have some scope of improvement or areas of interest of the requestor and the purpose of the report. This way I would be working towards perfecting my skills, understanding the requestor's requirements, improving on visualizing the minute details and gaining confidence of my supervisor to be confident in me.
I also had work towards improving my knowledge on MS Excel. Due to my limitation on MS Excel knowledge, most of the time, I depend on the experts for complex formulas which had become one of the core areas of improvement. Improving the knowledge on Excel would widen my areas or expertise, help me improve or modify complex formulas and enable me to create new templates to ease the work for everyone.
If I excelled on this, it would enable me to perform critical and complex tasks. Hence I intend to overcome this weakness of mine by attending some classroom trainings or online trainings on MS Excel and by reaching out the experts. I also intend to seek for help from my supervisor to help me understand complex formulas.
The second weakness I thing I would like to improve is to say "No" when required. As I feel, I might offend a person by saying No or might give an impression that I am not willing or I do not possess the ability to perform that particular task. One way to do so is by gathering courage to say No, by sympathizing myself and not allowing others to take advantage. A sincere effort would help me overcome this challenge. Probably by saying 'No' in different way rather than being curt. Probably addressing the same to my supervisor or by delegating / sharing the work with my colleagues would help me solve this problem.
As mentioned above, my threats, my hard work and recognitions for the same could become a threat. This could lead to a bad relationship or unhealthy competition within the team. I would try to overcome the same by changing my approach to such situations. By getting others from the team involved in all my activities and cross training everyone on each other's work can ease the pressure off. This approach wouldn't be a strategy to overtake others but a step or opportunity to work together as a team for good. This way both parties would get an opportunity to improve their skill and thoughts; and plan better for the best results.
The lack of experience in taking calls as mentioned earlier was one of the most important drawbacks in my career. As this could set me back or leave me behind when it come to my assessments or performance review and would become a road block in my career growth. Hence I decided to approach my superiors and colleagues to help me over come on the same. At the same time I decided to side barge with my colleagues to learn how to take client calls and speed up my learning curve. This way would be back on track for the race and wouldn't allow this weakness to affect my performance or growth.
Summary of progress
When I implemented the plan to improve my SWOT, I began to realize that my quality of work had improved. I was more confident in terms of structuring my daily activities related to work. I knew exactly how I had to achieve my goals.
When I joined the team I lacked confidence in attending client calls. I did not want this deficiency to set me back or leave me behind in the race. As planned I addressed this issue to my supervisor. He then advised me to enroll myself for a voice and accent training. As I enrolled myself to the advised training I realized that it would take longer time than expected to learn. Hence I decided to attend the training every day and post that came to the work place and side barged with my colleagues to understand and learn quickly. This strategic move helped me finish my voice and accent training in two weeks which normally takes six to seven weeks. Post this training I was back on track to compete at power with the other team members.
Post my training on voice and accent I start with my plan to gain confidence of my supervisor, I realized that this actually was working out. I approached my supervisor to seek for his help in observing my work, he was happy to do so. He in fact began giving me feedbacks regularly and gave me tips on how to overcome certain issues. And soon I got an opportunity to prove myself this was when my supervisor had to take his personal time off. This was an opportunity that helped supervisor gain confidence on me. I also received rewards from my GM for taking care of my supervisors work in his absence. This particular incident helped me to take more responsibilities and relieved my supervisor of his regular jobs allowing him to take new jobs from his supervisor. Because of this action plan it helped my supervisor and me to move ahead take up additional roles and responsibilities.
During my improvisation of improvement plan, I had enrolled myself for class room trainings and online trainings on MS Excel. This was one of the tips by my supervisor to me. Since my supervisor was also good at MS Excel, I approached him for help when ever required. He helped me to read and understand complex formulas and worked with me in creating few. This way I began to gain confidence in myself and was able develop my own templates to make our jobs easier. As I began to improve on my MS Excel knowledge, I was being observed by everyone around me and was ask to help them in creating templates for their reports. Looking at my knowledge on Excel my supervisor appointed me to set test papers on MS Excel for interviews and was asked to train the team as well on the same. This was one of the important milestones I had achieved.
As started to improve and began to receive rewards for my hard work, I was getting piled up with work. It so happened that the expectations were rising and I couldn't do anything about it to stop it. I had reached a point where I was only accepting more and more work, and could not put a stop to it. My health began to deteriorate, as I began to stretch my shift, pushed myself to complete the assigned tasks. My co-works realized this and advised me not to accept anything and everything. When I approached my supervisor to address him of the issue, he said that he knew about the pressure I was in but could not do much about as the profile demanded for it. He then told that he would look into the issue and look for an alternative. He then decided to appoint an additional person to help me. But it was a lengthy procedure to appoint a person to assist me, as it would take at least a month to appoint one. Hence I decided to delegate some of my work to my colleagues who were well equipped with the tools I used. As I began to get my work done by colleagues, my supervisor observed this and appointed one of my colleagues to help me. A process of appointing that took at least a month now was reduced to two weeks.
This approach in fact led to more opportunity within the team and helped everyone get cross trained so as to work as a team to ease the pressure off.
This way I was getting everyone in the team involved in different activities and shared my work. This approach was eliminating possibilities of threat in the team. The team no more felt threatened by anyone, as everybody was receiving an opportunity to learn, explore and expand their area of knowledge. I was a no more a war but a healthy competition, a race to learn more and not to pull down one another. There were rewards and recognitions delegated for the most helpful person of the team, knowledge priest award, most improved person award and the best performer award. The objective of these award titles was to create more opportunities, enhance skills, direct most of the people in the team towards a healthy competition and most importantly to work as a team to achieve organizational goals.
After the completion of my SWOT analysis, I was able to identify my SWOT in the initial stage of assessment, planned to improve by setting some milestones in the second stage and implemented the action plan to see the outcome of the same in the third stage. Post the successful implementation it is time for me to work on future plans to further improve my SWOTs.
My future plans are to:
Organize a forum where the best practices can be shared and implemented and look for new opportunities or scope for developing new strategies. I look forward to implement this in all the places where I would work.
This would help the people around and me to work together towards creating a better place to learn and work. This forum can also be termed as "Focus Group". As mentioned above, this group would concentrate on people development. Further it would focus on improvising corrective action plans, new idea generation in terms of reducing cost and time for a cost effective high performance and fun activities for stress busting in the work place.
Organize an observation forum to identify the successful and potential areas of improvement. The forum would allow every individual to share their experiences. If a strategy they implement is successful, then, the forum would discuss how it can be utilized by others and how it can be improved and if the strategy fails, then this forum would look at what went wrong and how can it be corrected. We would then be able to list down all the do's and don'ts. Also look for new and innovative ideas to enhance our skills and work. The observation forums will observe all the implementations and give out a general feedback or individual feedback on the implementation methods. This forum would help to avoid or correct mistakes committed.