Have you ever had the “What I suck at” conversation with your boss/employer/significant other?
I’m damn near 50, so I know what I suck at. I suck at math, and metrics. I suck at writing documents and I hate presentations. I have a large list of what I suck at or just hate doing (which means I will suck at it) – and in the last 5-10 years or so, I haven’t been afraid or ashamed of sharing that with my bosses. My future employers, employees, significant others, etc.
Setting expectations is important. Before I joined my current company I told them exactly why they shouldn’t hire me – the stuff I sucked at. They still hired me. They liked that I knew what I sucked at, and they liked what I thought I was good at.
I hate rules that make no sense anymore, but are still enforced. I don’t do meetings well. I work better when I want to work then when people normally work. I work VERY well at home.
I’ve had a number of bosses since I joined my current employer – and the first conversation I have had with most of them is about what I suck at.
Once we get past that, we can focus on what I do well. And that lets us focus on how to help me do that even better. And if my company knows how to help me get better at what I love, and what I am naturally good at – well, that helps us all take best advantage of my unique contributions.
If you are in finance, I don’t recommend you tell your boss you suck at math. Don’t be suicidal, unless you want a drastic change in your employment future. But do be honest with yourself, and if what you do falls into the “I suck at this” category, find something else to do. Usually you know this better than your bosses do. You’ve probably known it for some time.
But I am a people person – my employer wins (so do I because it is what I love) when I talk to people. So we found a way to make that happen. Sure – there is accountability – but not overbearing rules that slow me down, or make me start to feel that my employer is asking me to do what I don’t like doing. Or what I suck at doing.
We worked together to find a way that we are both rewarded for doing what makes sense – putting me in a role that is targeted at my natural strengths, and minimizes the “I suck at this” parts.
Don’t be afraid to tell the world what you suck at – but know what you are naturally good at. And make sure the good is good enough. Actually – make the good great.
Then magic happens.