By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. I have a highly detailed job and believe I am more of a big picture kind of guy. I consistently make errors in detailed projects even when I try hard to be perfect. My boss thinks I am being sloppy, but I just can't seem to spot these mistakes. Can you give me guidance about how to do better in my work?
A. Yes, right now you are a big picture square peg trying mightily to fit into a detailed round hole. People really do have inherent strengths and weaknesses. A good career plays to our strengths rather than requiring our weaknesses to change.
My favorite personality inventory is the Myers-Briggs Type indicator. On the test there is one dimension that measures whether you excel at seeing the forest or counting the trees. You, clearly, are the kind of guy that immediately spots the whole forest.
An excellent quick way to discover whether you focus on big picture or small details is to ask yourself to describe your home. If you get down to furniture, wall color or number of rooms, you're a detail individual. If, instead, you focus on the feeling, theme of decoration or mood, your orientation is the overview.
Both strengths are equally useful. Unfortunately, each strength is not useful in every job. Obviously administrative work, accounting, and computer coding require detail. Negotiation, management of people and strategy or corporate vision demand an overview.
Ask yourself honestly if your current job is playing to your strengths or repeatedly exposing your weaknesses. Ask yourself what part of your job you like best and what part you like least. Notice whether what you like and do best is detail or big picture.
If you find you are climbing a career ladder against the wrong wall for your strengths you are best off considering a career transition. Even detailed careers have job niches where that industry needs a big picture thinker. Many of my most successful technology professionals are big picture thinkers. They can think outside the box and get breakthrough results that their detailed peers wouldn't ever see.
Equally true is that overview careers like my field (mental health and executive consulting), running companies, and corporate strategy rely on detailed people to make sure we show up on time, on the right date, and get on the right plane.
I know it is difficult to admit there are just some things you are never going to be easily good at doing. I have to admit that even with mind-numbing scrutiny, "teh" ends up looking like the word "the" to me. Notice I still write this column but I am eternally grateful to watchful editors and spell check programs.
As a human being you just can't expect yourself to be able to do absolutely everything perfectly. My therapy clients think it's funny that when they walked in my office they thought I was going to hit them with my magic wand and change them. They realize later that the magic is learning the tools to excel as they are rather than by trying to change their essential selves.
The last word(s)
Q. I have a customer who loves to entertain me with monologues. The problem is I need him to get to the point. Is there a way to cut him off without alienating the guy?
A. Yes, concisely paraphrase the whole point he is making and quickly ask a pointed question. He will feel understand and you will get your work done!
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This article was printed in the January 24, 2016 - February 6, 2016 edition.