As a career coach I advise my clients to play to their strengths and shore up their weaknesses. But career strengths can become liabilities if you are not careful.
Here are some examples:
You are a perfectionist. While it certainly is a good thing that you want to do your job well, being a perfectionist can become a liability when you are so consumed with your work being perfect that you do not complete your work or you do not complete it on time. I had someone tell me that she had a hard time completing a writing assignment for work because it never seemed good enough. This type of attitude can cause you to miss deadlines, and of course that is unacceptable in the work world.
You are detail-oriented. This is a much needed trait in the workplace; however, it can work to your disadvantage if you only focus on details and never see the big picture. It is the classic case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. This frequently happens when employees only focus on their own positions and do not think about how what they do fits in with the company as a whole. This can easily lead to a silo mentality, which can be detrimental to the organization.
You easily see the big picture. This is the flip side of being detail-oriented. Again, being able to see the big picture is a much needed trait, but if you do not balance that with paying attention to detail, you can overlook small things that can trip you up. Sometimes big picture people are so focused on their vision of how they want things to be that they do not take all the necessary steps to reach their goals. Another pitfall is that they do not communicate effectively to others their vision or get their buy-in. This too can work against the best interest of the organization.
You love to help. This is a real strength. Teamwork is a valued competency in the workplace. But if taken too far, it becomes a weakness. One way that this strength can work against you is if you take on too much of your co-workers’ tasks to the detriment of your own.
You are driven. People who are good at reaching goals and getting the job done at all costs are a necessity in every organization. These people are driven. But your driven nature can drive people away. There is clearly a need to balance getting things done with respecting the needs of those around you. Very driven people can often be hard task masters who do not think about the needs of the staff. They can burn out good workers, overtaxing them and not giving them enough down time. They can also easily sacrifice relationships that are necessary to help them achieve their goals.
You are very committed. Once again, this is a real strength that employers would do well to value. However, the issue is that very committed people can commit to organizations that are not committed to them. This scene plays out repeatedly where employees join an organization early in their careers and commit to the organization. These employees are not job hoppers. They stay put and stick with the organization through good times and bad. But very often they are not paying attention to their own career development, and they make the mistake of believing that the organization is just as committed to them as they are to it. These are the people who are totally devastated when there is a layoff, and their names are on the list. While you should strive to do your best for your employer, it is smart to also have a Plan B in case there comes a parting of the ways at some point.
As you can see, each strength has its corresponding weakness. For career success, you should certainly use your strengths, but use them judiciously. And look for clues around you that you may be taking your strengths too far.
*Career coaching can help you balance your strengths in the workplace. To speak to a certified career coach call 877-743-9521 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.