Areas for improvement...
I remember preparing the employee reviews and spending much time digging for the area’s of improvement. Most of the review process does seem focused on things to improve – the time spent on “the stuff you kick butt on” was short. Same with the reviews I receive. Maybe we do them backwards, or at least not “level” enough.
There are things I do poorly, things I do well and things I’m really pretty good at. Unintentionally – I focus on the things I’m really good at and let the things I do poorly atrophy. It makes it so that the things I’m good at get better.
However – looking back, if I hadn’t been pushed into speaking in front of groups, I would not do anything remotely similar to what I do today. When I joined Oracle – my manager made us submit abstracts to speak at conferences, especially Oracle World/IOUG events. I lived in fear of getting accepted (but always did get accepted). It was not my strong point – getting up in front of people and talking. It took a long time to become competent at it.
Had not my manager (and the fact my job in general) forced me to do the speaking engagements – an event like I did yesterday for the ILOUG (Israel Oracle User Group) would never have happened. I spoke from 9am to 6pm (they are gluttons for punishment I guess) all about Oracle, technology. And people actually stayed all day long (which constantly, but pleasantly, surprises me).
So, I agree with the premise of Kathy’s posting today, for me. However, for “newbies” in a field (any field, anything) – I’m not sure I agree. We don’t know what are strengths are straight away. Had you told me in high school that I would major in math in college – I would have laughed. In college – had you told me I’d write a book that people actually seem to enjoy to read – I would have assumed you were a bit touched in the head. Had you told me as a programmer starting out that I’d be doing what I ended up doing for a career – I would have said “no way”.
In retrospect – maybe even today, for me – it does not apply. I have no idea what I’ll be doing 5 or 10 years from now. I have a feeling it will be different, perhaps radically different. I’m reading a book now that makes me pretty sure it will be very different to radically different in any case (The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century)
So, I agree, we should spend more time in the review process showcasing what we “kick butt” at – but pushing people into “areas of improvement” still makes sense. Some of us need to be pushed to do things we don’t want to (at first), in order to discover we actually like it.