Being the driving force behind a business or individual, facing a multitude of responsibilities and adapting to situations to suit the needs of a business is a common element of most EA and PA roles.

Yet no two people are the same… it’s a crazy thought when you really begin to dissect the characteristics of colleagues, clients and suppliers. It got our office thinking, how can two people, that are polar opposites, fulfill the same role? When they have different strengths and weaknesses?

Think of a crisis you have recently had… what was your initial response? How many different reactions would there have been in your office? There’s not necessarily a wrong answer, moreover some very different approaches.

The reality is that however “well trained” for the job we are, there are a series of inbuilt, personal characteristics which determine how you deal with situations, how you plan, how you conduct tasks etc. But really, at what point do you ever focus in on this as part of your career development?

Once you get past your school days, it’s rare that you will have many stages in your life where you will stop, take stock and re-evaluate your characteristics, and balance them against your skills.

The likelihood is that your career path will veer off in many different directions, based on varying circumstances and opportunities coming your way. To keep your career on track you need to have an eye on the bigger picture, and be clear on where you stand. Pulling out your key strengths, areas for improvement, as well as areas you know are never really going to be your strong point, can really help focus the mind. This can also help open up paths that you might not have thought of.

When you think of your career in the same context as an actual business, which in many senses is true, it seems absurd that we are not prompted to run some SWOT analysis’ more often, other than the obligatory yearly review.

To put this in context, have a think about the following, and how many times a year you evaluate these areas:

Strengths: the fuel that keeps your career racing
Whilst some may like to shout their strengths from the roof tops, and others give a modest smirk when praise is given, the fact is that everyone has a number of strengths. You have no doubt already worked out yours for yourself, but how many times do you consider this strength and really think about how you could harness it in different areas of your role?

Weaknesses: the parts that occasionally need a bit of reinforcement
Now, whilst I would love to profess the “I’m perfect” card, the reality of being human is that there is no such thing as perfect. What’s more, having a few weaknesses is not a bad thing in relation to your career. In fact, depending upon how you acknowledge, showcase and manage them, weaknesses can actually be quite an endearing quality within an employee, especially when balanced against their strengths. There are also many training options available to help “fix” potentially weaker areas.

Opportunities: those modifications you’ve always wanted
Just how much have you been eyeing up the new International role? A change of title? Greater responsibility? Did you succeed? How far did you actually push yourself to bring these goals within your reach? Did you harness your strengths and go out of your way to grab hold of what was really at stake? Opportunities come in many formats, but how you view each stepping stone can determine whether you succeed.

Threats: the ability to see ahead of the fog lights
There are many character traits which, if not pre-empted, can result in some pretty catastrophic disasters, however if you can be very truthful about these potential “issues”, disaster can be averted.

Now, you might have guessed there’s a bit of a car theme running through this!

After thinking about how necessary it is to evaluate profile characteristics in your career, we decided it was about time to get our techy brains on, and develop an app that does just that!

Introducing: the Pitman Career MOT!
Our careers are like our cars. If we don’t look after them and give them a regular overhaul they can start to flag, not really perform too well and that’s when the trouble starts…

Our new, free app focuses on helping you make the most of your characteristics, in the style of an MOT – Similar to the SWOT analysis we just looked at, each of your key attributes are outlined in your results after some brief diagnostic profiling – based upon the theory of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

The beauty of seeing your personality on paper, is that you are actually empowering yourself way beyond the capabilities of most. Almost like a secret cheat sheet, you can begin a process of visualising your future, tailoring yourself to fit the role. You have the power to design your own turbo-charged career engine! You just need to get hold of all of the pieces.

Examining the framework
Whilst our app will reveal one of 16 different results, matching your personality to various careers and traits, there are varying degrees as to which end of each scale you will land… meaning that a bi-annual check-up is recommended, to ensure you stay on track and all development is taken into consideration.

Let’s take a look at the ENTJ (Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging) personality as an example.

Career relevant traits:
• Natural leaders
• Driven to turn ideas into plans
• No patience with incompetence and inefficiency
• Wants order and structure
• Highly developed verbal communication skills

Whilst this is just a snippet of the result, it is clear that there is a combination of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats… yet each point has room for a variety of implications depending upon the context.

Let’s take “Natural Leader” as an example, that’s a good thing, right? Yes, if you’re in the right role. What if you are in a position that gives you no ability to lead? Well, then it’s probably time for a change of job!

“No patience with incompetence or inefficiency” – now this could be seen in a variety of lights, depending upon your responsibilities within the workplace, and how you express this element of your personality. Do you fly off the handle when things don’t go your way? Can you see why something has been produced in an inefficient way? How do you handle this? This can also depend upon the environment you work in. There are definitely instances when this characteristic would help a business develop a strong and efficient team – which is definitely a strength, and could also be an opportunity to progress within your role as part of some strategic business development activity.

Making a Pit-Stop for your career
There are so many ways you can really ensure that you make the most of your career; for your development, your employer or business and for your overall satisfaction. It’s all about focusing and harnessing your existing capabilities and continuing to develop as a person, as well as from a role specific skillset.

Why not test our app for yourself? Visit: www.PitmanCareerMOT.com for full details, downloads and for the chance to “WIN the Ultimate Career Package”, worth up to £1500′.

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Claire Lister is the Owner/MD of Pitman Training Group (www.pitman-training.com). Pitman is a market leader in the PA and secretarial training industry, delivering exceptional results for tens of thousands of students each year. Pitman also provide ... (Read More)

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