The only reason you’re reading this is because you know that you have to get better to accomplish your dreams and ambitions. You won’t be satisfied with the status quo. You know that YOU are the limiting factor in getting to your desired future.
I’m going to give you a roadmap. We’ll start with three self-assessments and one other kind of assessment tool – that gives you the realistic picture of You Now. You can’t get to You Better if you don’t understand You Now.
Step 1 – Understand “You Now”
Take these three self-assessments. Two you’ve probably heard of and one is almost certainly new to you.
- Strengths Finder. The basic premise is that you have a set of strengths, and you’re more likely to be successful if you build on those than trying to build up your natural weaknesses. You can get the Strengths 2.0 book (which includes a code for an online test), but I suggest you review the list of 34 strengths they’ve identified and buy the code online. Fast, pretty accurate, and likely to both affirm what you expect and surprise you with one or two strengths that you’ve not considered.
- DiSC. The premise of DiSC is that you have a strong orientation towards Drive, Influence, Steadiness, or Conscientiousness. Once you know how you prefer to work, it helps you think through how to effectively work with others.You can take a fee online DiSC assessment in multiple places in the Internet (e.g., here) but please understand that you’ll get a fuller assessment report from the for-fee services. I think the detailed report that Manager Tools provides is well worth the $27 price.
- Marketing DNA Test. I recommend Perry Marshall’s free Marketing DNA test – the analysis is quite interesting, and you’ll learn some things about your preferences which don’t surface in the Strengths and DiSC assessments. For example, his assessment gives you a lot more insights into how you like to create content and present it. You’ll also love Perry’s edgy writing. This is not your typical HR-speak stuff. Everyone person I know who’s taken this reports that it nailed them and gave them confidence about how to do more with the way they are naturally wired.
Those three together will give you and your team members an excellent idea about how you’re wired, how you prefer to work and interact with others.
But there’s a limit to these self-assessment tools: all the input is from you. We’re really good at fooling ourselves and biasing how we answer questions. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) These self-assessment tools also do not give us much information about how others perceive us – critical to know if you want to be effective.
You can get useful feedback from your colleagues with my “Asking Forward” approach. That’s a good start.
But despite all the negative experiences and limitations, the traditional 360 Degree Profile type of assessment is still the best. You’ll need some cooperation from your colleagues because it’s an investment of their time. If you’re working in a corporate setting, consult with your HR group to find out their recommendations – they will have an opinion about which vendor to use, and how it will be administrated.
When you get the feedback, one piece of advice: listen to it, especially where it makes you mad. Remember that we have a strong tendency to judge ourselves by our intentions, and others only by their actions. (We can’t observe intentions, only infer them from actions we interpret.)
Now that you have some input, let’s use it.
Step 2: Map out “You Next”
Yes, “You Next” is not the same as “You Better” – but it’s what’s in your sphere of control and influence. “You Better” is in the eye of the beholder.
Your route to “You Next” requires some actions related to getting better on three fronts:
Business Knowledge – The domain or industry you work in. Key players. Trends. Current challenges. Future opportunities.
Working with People – Managing teams and projects. Communication, including influencing decisions above you and below you. Building relationships.
Technical Skills – Every line of work has some kind of specific skills which evolve over time. Digital technologies affect everyone. There will also be areas of your craft which would benefit from more instruction and practice.
Think about these three and brainstorm at least 15 concrete actions that you help you improve. Not wishful ideas, but concrete actions. Consider both options to build on what your assessment information provided. For example, perhaps you could make 2 new connections with business leaders in a different area of your company in the next 2 weeks. You could sign up for Toastmasters. You could set aside 2 hours to review 3 trade magazines with the specific intention of looking for trends and challenges.
Now take each of the 15 and decide what the next action is. Schedule meetings, block time, assign yourself a task to look up a needed bit of information, etc. – but do the next action. Trust me, it’s going to feel really good to get some momentum going.
One more: add a time on your calendar in 3 months when you’re going to do this exercise again. Grade yourself on progress. Bonus points: share your list with someone else to help encourage you and keep you accountable.
Step 3: Keep working on “You Next” and “You Better” takes care of itself.
This is a strategy with the long-view. Have faith and confidence that as you keep working forward, continuing to use opportunities that come, “You Better” becomes more and more apparent to others as well as yourself.
Let me know in the comments how this works for you. I look forward to hearing about your growth and successes.