Professionals Start with Self-Awareness
Employers continue to cite “professionalism” as the #1 characteristic they seek in recruits and new hires. If you need to prove that you’re a professional, start with self-awareness. People who know their strengths and weaknesses come across as credible. They know their limitations and understand they have room to grow.
Several assessment tools can help you build self-awareness, especially awareness of your natural inclinations, abilities, and preferred work style. They can help you recognize that different things motivate different people. They can also help you understand why some workplace relationships are easy while others require genuine work on your part.
Consider using the following three assessment tools to build self-awareness:
If you have time to complete only one assessment tool, I think most psychologists would point you to one based on five very broad factors used to describe personality. Several acronyms have been used to refer to the five traits, including: OCEAN, NEOAC, and CANOE.
The five dimensions include:
Openness to experience - Reflects the degree to which you are intellectually curious, creative, and open to novelty. In general, this dimension reflects your preference for variety over routine.
Conscientiousness - Reflects the degree to which you are organized, dependable, and goal-oriented. In general, this dimension reflects your preference for planned activities over spontaneous events.
Extraversion - Reflects the degree to which you are sociable. In general, this dimension reflects your tendency to gain energy in the company of others or on your own.
Agreeableness - Reflects the degree to which you are compassionate, cooperative, and helpful towards others. In general, this dimension reflects your tendency towards suspicion over trust.
Neuroticism - Reflects the degree to which you easily experience unpleasant emotions like anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. In general, this dimension reflects your emotional stability as well as your ability to control impulses.
How might you use this assessment tool? Let’s say that you score low on Conscientiousness. You may want to think long and hard before taking a job that requires you to carefully look for missing commas when cite-checking a complex legal brief. To the extent you scored high on Extraversion, know that attending networking events or conferences will be second nature for you.
Based upon the work of psychologist Carl Jung, as reinterpreted by William Marston, DISC assessment tools focus on four major categories of observable human behavior.
Driving - These behaviors stem from a perception of the world as an “us vs. them” proposition. People who naturally rely upon these behaviors prefer to actively seek out their next goal and objective. Characteristics include: assertive; direct; competitive; needs to be in charge; prefers to act rather than wait for input.
Intuiting - These behaviors stem from a preference to be with and work with other people. People who naturally rely upon these behaviors prefer to actively seek out their next goal and objective. Characteristics include: enthusiastic; expressive; outgoing; multi-tasker; leads others through persuasion; sometimes viewed as manipulative.
Socializing - These behaviors stem from a preference to be with and work with others. People who naturally rely upon these behaviors prefer quiet reflection over open engagement. Characteristics include: friendly; supportive; loyal; great team players; great listeners.
Correcting - These behaviors stem from a perception of the world as an “us vs. them” proposition. People who naturally rely upon these behaviors prefer quiet reflection over open engagement. Characteristics include: organized; persistent; practical; precise; requires data and detail; demands high quality; dislikes mistakes.
Although many people are able to float in and out of the four categories of behaviors, most display a preference for one behavior over the others, especially when working under extreme stress.
From a self-awareness perspective, this assessment tool can help you become aware of the assets and liabilities that you can bring to the workplace. For example, Driving behaviors can be hugely beneficial in an emergency situation when a decision must be made quickly. In such environments, direct and rapid communication is often required. However, people on the receiving end of these communications may “hear” impatience and an overly severe tone.
This assessment tool, developed by people connected with the Gallup Corporation, seeks to identify your natural strengths or talents. (The strengths are organized into 34 unique “themes.”) While you may already possess a fundamental understanding of what you do well, this assessment tool and the report it produces provides language that you may find useful when describing your unique talents to others.
The people behind StrengthsFinders maintain that only some strengths or talents can be learned. For example, I’ve worked with people who have an uncanny ability to imagine the future. These people generally score high on StrengthsFinder’s “Futuristic” theme. It’s not something that I do well, as surely I proved many years ago when I first encountered an ATM and asked, “Who would want to remember a PIN number when you can just go in and talk to a teller?”
Here’s what’s really useful about this tool: According to its developers, people who “play to their strengths” are six times as likely to be engaged in their job, and they are three times as likely to report having a good quality of life.
What You Need to Know
Self-awareness is a critical professioal skill. Use assessment tools to enhance your understanding of yourself and improve your ability to work with others.
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