Do you know what makes you special? And can you articulate it?
As a person, do you know your strengths? Not only the things that you believe you do really well, but what about what others say you do really well? If you don’t, consider an exercise to figure it out. On a personal level, find a time with no distractions where you can create a list. Struggling to start? Call it a list of “The 5 Reasons Any Company Should Hire Me”.
If your organization offers 360 or multi-rater reviews, take one to learn what others feel are your strengths. Keep in mind, you’ll also learn your weaknesses, but that’s okay. We all have areas we need to improve. Or just ask your manager. Maybe during your next 1:1 meeting, tell them what you’re trying to do and give them some time to think about it.
From a team perspective, do you know why you’re asked to participate on teams? And when you ask others to work on a project with you, do you share why you’re asking? While sometimes our job title drives participation on a work team or project team, in many cases it’s our knowledge and skills. When your boss asks you to join a meeting or buy-into a special project, listen for the reason why. And if they don’t tell you, maybe you should ask.
The same goes for when we ask others to work with us. We should tell them. For example, if you’re a high-level, strategic thinker and need a detail-oriented, execution person to offer the counter-point, tell them. Or if as much as you try, your meetings tend to get off track and you want someone to come in and gently get things focused every once in a while…tell them. They (and you) can do a better job when they know the reason for their participation.
Finally, when it comes to the company, do you know why customers buy your product or service? I mean really know. I’ve seen organizations be surprised by the answer. They thought it was service and it ends up being cost. Or they think it’s cost and it ends up being response time. Once you discover what makes the organization unique and special, the question becomes how and when are you promoting it?
This also applies to recruiting. Does human resources know why candidates apply with the company? Do they know why employees stay? And if so, when and how is HR sharing that information with candidates and employees? Organizations could include the information on the company’s career portal. They could talk about it during interviews. Mention it during orientation. Let employees know during town hall meetings.
“What makes you special?” sounds like such a simple question. But it’s hard to get good, accurate information. Once you do, use it to your fullest advantage. It can help you as a person in your professional development. It can help teams bring together the right people. And it can help organizations find and keep the best talent.11