How can I find my unique skill to get noticed at work?

BY THE OFFICE COACH - JUNE 3, 2016

The world’s most effective organisations know how to identify, grow and use talent. This is often not the case here in South Africa, especially in SMEs where lack of resources and below average people management skills mean they struggle to effectively identify, attract and retain talent.

You need to take it upon yourself to identify your own unique skills and to find ways to showcase them in order to progress your role and career.

It is not always easy to list what we are good at; many people do not spend time looking honestly and objectively at themselves; others may feel shy about openly stating what they think they are good at.

If you do not know what skills differentiate you from the rest of the world, then you may be “playing small”, just getting by every day by following your job description, operating an at a level that won’t get you fired but won’t get you fired up either. Identify your unique skills or talents by taking time to reflect on and answer the questions below:

What do you instinctively do well?

Marcus Buckingham, the author of Now — Discover Your Strengths, puts it well: “Our strengths…clamour for attention in the most basic way: Using them makes you feel strong. Take note of the times when you feel invigorated, inquisitive, successful…These moments are clues to what your strengths are.”

Conversely, think about what frustrates or exasperates you. The frustration may born from believing that what is easy for you should be easy for others. In a round-about way, this may show you what comes easily or naturally to you.

What are you complimented on?

Listen carefully to what others say about you; they may see talent where you do not. They may also be impressed by what you see as normal, as anything but extraordinary.

The latter is especially true if you set high standards for yourself. Look back on performance reviews, ask your peers for constructive feedback, as your manager what you do that makes a positive impact on the workplace.Keep an eye out for compliments you habitually dismiss.

It’s possible that you’re discounting a strength that others value. For example, when people compliment me on my interpersonal skills, I tend to deflect the compliment; in my mind it’s just who I am.

Do you have a mix of skills?

As you begin to dig for your unique abilities, you may discover that your unique skill may not be one but rather a mix of proficiencies.

Looking at an IT client of mine; it is hard for him to claim to be the world’s best PHP programmers, Unix guru, or e-commerce expert. But there may not be many excellent PHP programmers who are also Unix and e-commerce experts. For the right employer, that combination is your unique skill.

Identifying our talents is difficult in itself and many of us lack the confidence to speak out about them or act on them. You need to acknowledge your gifts and use them with humility.

The best way to do this is through service to others. Start by using them to serve your organisation; if you can show a direct correlation between your actions and the successes of the business you operate in, then you stand a better chance of recognition.

Identifying and deploying your best skills can be a game-changer for your career. Not necessarily because you employer will suddenly decide to pay you more but because accurately identifying your value helps you work towards applying this to your work. The inevitable result is improved performance and an improvement in others’ perceptions of you worth.

If you would like to discuss identifying employees’ unique skills and making the most of them, email [email protected] .