Friday, 11 December 2015

4 Things You can Do Now To Improve Your Self Awareness

I was working with a team this morning discussing self awareness and the role it plays in building stronger relationships at work. The team recognised that not enough time is spent either by individuals or teams thinking about their own strengths and weaknesses, nor understanding how as a team they can be most effective. This is a common problem I find as people are generally focussed on the 'here and now' of work and hardly ever take the time to reflect and assess. As individual adults we are also quite set in our own ways, whether they are favourable or otherwise.  This means that we would rather not reflect on what might be obvious shortcomings, as the moment we raise our self- awareness we also feel compulsed to do something about it....and that takes hard work!

Nevertheless, without self awareness we cannot begin to establish trusting relationships. We also cannot as leaders chose the team that best complements our own strength and skills and thus best help us achieve our business objectives. 

So how can we begin to build our own self-awareness ?

Here are 4 things to implement immediately in your professional environment:

#1 - Ring-fence specific times to reflect, alone and with the team
Simple and obvious yet quite hard to implement due to people's busy schedules. It is critically important though and therefore must be done properly. This means using effective reflection tools to ensure the time is used most effectively and in a structured way. End of projects, performance management reviews, year-ends are all ideal times to undertake this analysis. 

#2 - Encourage feedback at every level
Organisations that foster open and transparent communication are also likely to encourage a culture of feedback. If you do not feel that your team is feedbacking enough, first and foremost open yourself up to feedback. Once the team sees the you are willing to accept it as well as to give it, feedback will become accepted as a 'modus operandi' and will be used for many purposes at individual and team level. Please remember that feedback is a 360 degree activity and you can choose to gain insights into your own strengths and shortcomings through junior as well as peer or senior colleagues, but also suppliers, customers and partners.

#3 - Strech yourself out of your comfort zone
Trying new things is a sure way to find out what you are good at and how you react and feel to new situations. For that to happen, you have to be willing to embrace a certain amount of risk, but it is worthwhile in order to learn new skills. Organisations can encourage or hinder the process - you as a leader of people should certainly try to encourage it as it will benefit yourself and-  by role modelling - your team.

#4 - Undertake regular, personal SWOT analysis
Many of us are likely to be familiar with SWOT analysis applied to products and markets. We are much less likely to have carried out this analysis on a personal level, highlighting personal strengths and weaknesses. It is a very helpful exercise that we should undertake on a regular basis to ensure we keep on recording progressing and filling gaps. Feedback can be used to cross check our thinking with colleagues but also friends. They will hopefully point out to us many additional qualities we did not think we have!

However good you think you are as manager and leader, however well rated by your colleagues, think about whether your self-awareness can be improved and whether you are doing enough to support your team through a similar process. Which tools do you use for this purpose and which results have you enjoyed? Please share in the comments as I would love to hear! 

lessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.  

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