Managing yourself for a successful career

Managing yourself for a successful career

How many articles have you already read about management, especially managing others? I guess a lot. It's always interesting to know more about managing teams to get the work done or get the expected results for your boss. But that's only one part of the job!

Those who succeed are the first to know their strengths, values and the domains they master. In short, people who manage themselves. Why is managing yourself so important? Because we have to learn how to develop ourselves to find the best places where we can give the best of ourselves, maximise our contribution and have fun in what we do. This brings us to the path of a successful career.

Five questions to know more about yourself

We all think we know everything about ourselves. Let’s be honest: life often teaches us that we don't - sometimes the hard way. Many situations will challenge us during our life, showing us that we sometimes have to change our behaviour to make things happen or get better results. It is important to analyse these situations and clearly understand why we don’t get the results we expect to get. In short, it is vital to building a deep comprehension of our strengths and weaknesses.

1. What are my strengths?

The best way to do this is by using retroactive analysis. Every time you have to make an important action or decision, record the expected results and then compare the expected results to the actual ones. The retroactive analysis is an old technique that aims to identify and highlight the strategy you are using to get results.

This method allows you to identify your strengths, the path you took to achieve the results, and what you did or didn’t do to exploit your strengths fully. It also indicates the strengths that can be developed: First, concentrate on your strengths and use them to produce more results. Second, try to improve your skills (if possible) and develop new ones. This can also fill the gaps. Third, identify the domains you don’t think are important to develop, or for which you don't have any interest, but are however important and should be developed.

It is also important to change bad habits like procrastination that compromise your efficiency and work quality. The retroactive analysis will help you in this task. For example, a PM can be good at planning but fail because his follow-up is not good or his communication is unclear.

2. What is my work style?

It is essential to understand the way you work. Many people are not aware that there are multiple ways to work, and many people work in a way that is not appropriate to them, which leads to a lack of efficiency.

Here are some important elements to consider when you want to be efficient in your work.

Am I visual or auditive? This is one of the first things to consider. Do you prefer to read or listen? Are you comfortable in meetings - when you exchange ideas with your colleagues or when you see information on slides or in documents? We are all comfortable with a particular communication style. Suppose you try to explain things visually to an auditive learner. In that case, there are big chances of miscommunication, and the probability of information loss would be much higher.

Another element to take into consideration is the way you work with others. Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? Likewise, if you prefer to work with others, what kind of position do you prefer to hold in the team? Will you prefer to act as a consultant sharing their expertise, or do you prefer to be the decision-maker?

Finally, you have to consider the environment in which you like to work. Do you give your best in a stressful environment, or do you prefer to work in a calm and stable one? Also, do you like big companies, or are you more comfortable in small ones?

All of these factors will influence your efficiency and above all, can make a big difference in your results.

3. What are my values?

If your company doesn't share your values, this will lead to dissatisfaction and for sure will affect your performance. Companies and individuals have values, and these values must be compatible for the best of all. They don't need to be exactly the same, but they must be close enough to satisfy both needs.

Also, there could be a conflict between an employee’s strengths and their values. Indeed, the employee could be very good at his work, but this work might conflict with his values. The employee might conclude that this work doesn’t deserve their time.

4. What is my place?

Some people know exactly what their life path will be. They know what kind of career they want to pursue. For others, it might come with maturity in career progression and time. However, what is important, and even critical, is to quickly understand where you will be comfortable and be able to give your best within your company. It will be even more important to know exactly where it won’t be the case to avoid such places.

If you know that big companies are not for you, then you might want to concentrate on smaller ones. If you understand that you don't like to make decisions, then you should not accept this kind of position. Sometimes, you could eventually take a job that does not fit your strengths. But in this case, you have to negotiate before accepting the position, the possibility to hold the position in a way that best fits the way you work, and that could be different from the company expectations. If the company accepts then it will be a win-win situation.

It is always important to be ready to take opportunities during your career, but you should be careful when accepting a position that does not exactly match your experience or skills.

5. How can I best contribute?

In conclusion, it is important to go through all these questions to maximise our chance to succeed in our career and life. We should always try to understand: what is the best place where I can take advantage of my skills and, most of all, be happy contributing.

This is the question knowledge workers have to ask themselves: Given my strengths, values, and work style, how can I bring the maximum value to my company? In the past, employees were told exactly what to do. Nowadays, they have more autonomy to think about the best way by which they can contribute to the success of their employer by understanding the situation and the needs of the company.

Self-management also needs a deep involvement in human relationships. Indeed, only a few people get results working alone, and in our day-to-day work, we cannot avoid working with others.

This involvement has two significant elements to consider:

  • First, you have to be aware that we are all humans, and hence we all have our work style, communication style, strengths and values. To be efficient, you have to know others and adapt yourself to different environments.
  • Second, we all must take responsibility for the communication. Lack of communication leads to problems that can often be avoided by asking questions to understand specific situations. Asking questions allows us to know each other more and improve how we work together.

This brings us to the famous quadrant of emotional intelligence that links all pieces together. We can see that all starts with self-management and self-awareness that allows you to interact efficiently with your environment. As discussed before, it helps you find your way in your career by understanding your strength, values, and learning orientation.

 A successful career starts with a successful knowledge of yourself!

Stephen Casciana

Self Awareness Chart