BLIND spots are hidden parts of your personality that often reflect deep-seated fears and judgmental attitudes. These blind spots can affect you in many ways in your personal life and in your work.
They can impact your thinking and decision-making processes and how effectively you respond to different situations and crises.
They can also affect your creativity and your ability to innovate and adapt to changes and transitions at the workplace.
Blind spots can result in reactive and unproductive habits and behaviours that can derail career success and affect workplace relationships. They can also become hidden barriers that prevent you from making crucial changes necessary for successful career development.
Learning to recognise and act on your blind spots is, in fact, an essential life skill and an important strategy for long-term career success.
Allowing blind spots to persist in your career is like constantly working with a blindfold on.
Recognising your blind spots is not difficult, but it does require the determination to act on them to improve yourself.
There are several strategies to recognise, understand and even overcome blind spots:
• Review your strengths
Blind spots need not necessarily be weaknesses; they can be downsides of your current perceived strengths.
Your strengths are usually those attributes and skills that contributed to your initial success on the job and brought you some measure of recognition for your work.
However, all strengths have downsides, and it is important to acknowledge this in the workplace. Strengths that are over-played or over-emphasised may turn to weaknesses.
For example, if you are a very focused person who does not give up until what you want to do is completed, that is generally regarded as a strength.
But if you are working in a situation that is very volatile, your focus on getting something done even if you need to turn your attention elsewhere will be a weakness. You will be seen as inflexible or unable to react quickly to change.
Over time, strengths can also become redundant through changing organisational demands or technological advancements.
Thus it is important to periodically review what your actual strengths are in performing your job well and to never stop acquiring new knowledge and skills to enhance these strengths appropriately to remain relevant in the workplace.
• Examine past history
Reviewing your career history is an important strategy to help highlight blind spots that appear as barriers to your career progress.
Start from the point you entered the workforce to where you are now at and examine what you perceive as the high and low points in your career thus far.
Ask yourself what your aspirations and expectations were at the beginning of your career and whether they are being fulfilled.
If you are currently not on track to achieving them, then focus on the self-limitations that are preventing you from moving further in your career.
Usually, insights gained from such an in-depth examination of your career history can be a motivating factor for seeking out new avenues for self-development.
• Do self-reflection
Taking time out for self-reflection is an important way to heighten your awareness of your blind spots.
For example, reflecting on how people are responding to your ideas, inputs, suggestions and decisions at work can actually highlight how effective you are.
Such self-refection can also highlight unproductive habits, automatic behaviour and self-limiting thoughts that are preventing you from having better working relationships with supervisors, subordinates or co-workers.
A common example of a blind spot is in workplace communication, when you do not allow sufficient time to effectively listen to colleagues and clients.
You may not be aware (until you get feedback) that you often abruptly interrupt conversations with colleagues, due to over-confidence or your eagerness to get your opinion heard.
This blind spot may hinder you from effectively solving problems or making the right decisions.
• Use self-assessment tools
Self–assessment tools based on psychological theories and principles, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and DISC, give broad insights into personality and behaviour patterns.
The information gained from taking such tests can raise self-awareness of your strengths and weakness, and indicate where blind spots may lurk in your decision-making and relational skills.
Such insights gained can highlight areas in your personality and behaviour that you may need to focus on to improve your effectiveness in your career.
• Seek feedback
Seeking feedback from friends, supervisors, co-workers and even a career coach will help to enhance your understanding of your blind spots.
Blind spots, be they unproductive habits or instinctive reactions to situations and people, need not be taken as weaknesses but as areas for self–improvement.
It is important to view all feedback as opportunities to learn more about yourself.
Appraisal interviews are excellent opportunities to gain invaluable feedback in an organisational setting.
The appraisal interview must not be seen as a platform for reviewing only your shortfalls and mistakes but also as a learning opportunity to proactively enhance your effectiveness within the organisation.
Ultimately, it is important to be open to honest feedback and then work to actively overcome these limitations to enhance your employability.
Article by C. R. Krishnan, a registered counsellor and certified career coach with 35 years’ working experience as a human resource practitioner. He is actively involved in both workplace and school counselling. For more information, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org