Top 30 Professional Weaknesses and How to Counteract Them



Top 30 Professional Weaknesses and How to Counteract Them

What are professional weaknesses?

We might think we know exactly what our professional weaknesses are and how to describe them, but in actual fact we all tend to be notoriously bad at identifying them in ourselves. When asked this critical question at a job interview many of us will default to stock answers like, "I work too hard" or "I'm a perfectionist".

These are however very bad answers to give, they tell an interviewer nothing about you personally or how you've overcome personal challenges and are very much seen as cliche in today's modern jobs market.

To really be able to pin down your weaknesses requires a degree of self reflection and deep thought. Some people have a tendency to overlook their own weaknesses while others may only see the negative in themselves.

Being able to not only identify your weaknesses, but then take concrete steps to overcome them, is a skill that will help you in almost any work related situation.

Before we list the weaknesses though we want to remind you to be honest with yourself and stay positive! It can be hard looking at what we'd often see as the negative aspects of our personality, but view them as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Check out the list below and our advice to overcome your weaknesses. If you can apply them to your own situation you'll have plenty of examples of turning a weakness into a strength to really nail that next interview or appraisal.

Top 30 weaknesses

Avoids conflict

Conflict in one form or another is going to be inevitable in any workplace. Whether it's a disagreement between coworkers, a disgruntled customer or giving a difficult message to a senior manager.

How to overcome:

  • Asserting your opinion early.
  • Staying composed.
  • Understand others point of view.
  • Be open to compromise.

Poor communicator

Maybe you may excel in verbal communication but just can't organise your thoughts into writing, or you might be afraid to meet someone face to face so you hide behind your emails. Few of us are masters of all forms of communication and it can never hurt to make improvements.

How to overcome:

  • Show willingness to attend training courses to improve weak areas.
  • Switch to your strengths - If your email writing skills are poor, decide instead to pick up the phone or meet face to face and vice versa.
  • Ask for honest feedback on your communication style.
  • Start and end your communication with key points to make it more memorable.
  • Volunteer for projects that will test your communication weaknesses and help you improve.

Impulsive

Impulsive people often react without thinking as they believe they are in the right. This can sometimes be a positive when decisiveness is required, but this must be backed up with thoughtful experience. Impulsiveness in your early career can be disastrous.

How to overcome:

  • Slow down and talk yourself through a process/decision before acting.
  • Bounce your ideas off a colleague first.
  • Review the consequences of past impulsive actions, what lessons can be learned?
  • Organise your day around a checklist to reduce impulsive decisions.

Hesitant

The opposite of impulsiveness, and swinging too much the other way into hesitancy can lead to missed opportunities and work left incomplete. Interestingly, you can apply similar methods to impulsiveness to overcome hesitancy too:

How to overcome:

  • Ask colleagues what they would do in your place to build up ideas for lots of different situations making you more decisive in the future.
  • Set realistic goals and start with the small achievable ones to build up confidence.
  • Establish personal deadlines.
  • Focus on the present.

Overbearing

Often associated with the bullying manager type, this can in fact apply to anyone in the workplace. Many might not even realise others find them intimidating or overbearing which often leads to that person becoming excluded with others afraid to speak to them.

How to overcome:

  • Stop and listen to what other people have to say.
  • Ask coworkers about themselves.
  • Ask others why they feel intimidated by you.
  • Consider what you're going to say before you say it.

Controlling

Another trait that is often associated with certain managers, those who aren't able to fully trust others and have to control every aspect of their work or a project are often doing themselves more harm than good and can end up missing out on vital input others could have made.

How to overcome:

  • Review whether your efforts to control others have been effective. Are you directing people well or holding them back?
  • Stop having to be right.
  • Trust in others opinions and check in with them regularly.
  • Understand that giving up control can also be rewarding.

Inflexible

Once we're comfortable with a way of working we often have a tendency to stick with it. This leads to the old, "We've always done it this way" mentality that ultimately ends up stifling innovation and stalling your career.

How to overcome:

  • Ask others what they see as your rigid behaviours and how you can change.
  • Volunteer for new tasks and challenges, maybe you can learn something new to apply to your current job.
  • Be open to new ways of working, if you spot an area to improve then suggest it to your manager and coworkers.

Slow to learn new tasks

People are always going to learn at different paces. It can be frustrating to see people progress faster than you, especially when you think your skill levels are on par.

How to overcome:

  • Establish your learning style. What works best for you? Do you learn visually? Verbally? Or best through the written word? Let others know and your training can be adapted.
  • Recognise that people have strengths in different areas, find yours and you can compensate for slower learning in other areas.
  • Recognise that if you're determined to learn something then nothing can truly stop you.

Unable to see the bigger picture

This is especially common in organisations where silo working is in effect. People are isolated in their own team and don't understand how their work fits in with other departments and the wider vision. When this happens it can lead to negative and unmotivated employees.

How to overcome:

  • Show willingness to learn about other teams and functions.
  • Look for tasks and opportunities outside of your current position.
  • Study industry publications and look for trends in your profession you can apply to your role.

Defensive

For people who find they just cannot take criticism or feel they are doing no wrong, then a pervasive defensive attitude will creep in that will strangle any personal development.

How to overcome:

  • See criticism as a learning opportunity and ask for specific feedback.
  • Check yourself and think before you respond to feedback.
  • Remain calm and considered.
  • Most of all, don't take things personally and don't worry too much about what others think of you.

Possessive of work

A personality trait that means someone finds it incredibly difficult to let others help out or take on work, often known as the "I'll do it myself!" mentality believing only they have the skills to complete a certain task.

How to overcome:

  • Learn to trust others. Be open and communicate with people in your team, what are their own strengths and weaknesses? How can you complement each other rather than be in competition?
  • Allow colleagues to take on your work during personal busy periods, see that they too can be capable of excelling.

Judgemental

Related To being possessive of one's work, this is a more pervasive attitude of being more skilled generally than the people around you. If this continues to a manager stage we often find them being the type to apply harsh criticism to their team's work, often creating a negative atmosphere as a result.

How to overcome:

  • Understand the position others are in, if they're genuinely struggling maybe you can help out rather than harshly judging.
  • Being judgemental can often be a defensive mechanism for our own insecurities, look deeper into yourself for areas you can improve personally.

Poor under pressure

It's a given that we're going to face days where we have more on our plate than we can handle and we'll face some surprises. If we're not used to this then we can collapse under the pressure and get nothing productive done.

How to overcome:

  • Remain calm and parcel off large tasks into smaller, manageable goals. Focus on these one at a time and don't get panicked by the scale of the overall task.
  • Refer back to past successes under similar situations to inspire confidence.
  • Don't be afraid to share the pressure where possible.

Self-centred

Being focused on oneself might seem like a quick path to success, but those who are always on the lookout for what they can get for themselves are easy to spot and don't make themselves popular for it.

How to overcome:

  • Realise that in helping others you have an opportunity to learn something new and improve yourself at the same time.
  • Try to see things from other people's perspectives. They're probably just as keen to do well as you and could be a valuable coworker as opposed to competition.

Too invested in the job

The classic work-life balance problem. If you're responding to emails at 11pm on a Saturday then you've probably lost some perspective. This isn't good for your health and could actually be hurting your career in the long run.

How to overcome:

  • Stop and assess the impact your overworking is having on your family and personal life. It takes courage to admit mistakes and step back.
  • Assess your workload and be honest if it's realistic, understand where delegation is important and how you can best apply your own skills more efficiently, making you a better employee for it.

Dogmatic

Those who are convinced they are right and everyone else is wrong can be very frustrating to work with. Often intractable and unwilling to take feedback seriously this weakness can be a serious hindrance to your career.

How to overcome:

  • Be able to admit when you've made a mistake and recognise when past mistakes have had consequences.
  • Be willing to change your mind and apply learned experiences to future problems.

Takes on too much work

Often found in people who want to please others all of the time and just can't say no. While you might think you're being helpful, you're only hurting yourself in the long run as people's expectations continue to rise but you just don't have the resources to meet them.

How to overcome:

  • Know your limits and don't be afraid to say no to work.
  • Review past tasks, how long did they take to complete? Have you improved since then? Then realistically assess how much you can take on using this basis.

Unable to plan effectively

Not having a clear plan can mean missed deadlines, added stress and a reputation for being unreliable. Unfortunately it can also be a vicious circle once you start as deadlines start to pile on top of deadlines.

How to overcome:

  • Keep a daily checklist. Make a note of tasks you were unable to complete and why. Then note these as areas to improve on or request workload be allocated differently to tasks you can handle effectively.
  • Be realistic and set measurable and achievable goals.
  • Like with working under pressure, break intimidating tasks down into smaller sub goals.

Poor public speaker

You're definitely not alone in this one. Often voted the number one fear in the workplace many of us would love to crawl under a rock and hide rather than speak publicly. But not facing this fear can definitely stunt your career and personal growth.

How to overcome:

  • Start small. Volunteer to give presentations to a few team members first in a comfortable setting.
  • Know your audience. Thorough research beforehand can save a lot of embarrassment and really help reduce nerves.
  • Don't dwell on what the audience thinks of you, focus on your material.

Shy

Often passed over for promotions or sometimes ignored entirely, unfortunately for those with a crippling shyness, work can often be a miserable place to be. When people feel their voice isn't heard they can quickly start looking elsewhere for a new role or become even more withdrawn.

How to overcome:

  • Start by asking people you trust for advice on being more assertive and look for a mentor.
  • Put yourself forward for situations that put you outside of your comfort zone. The more people willingly face a fear the less power it has over them.

Pessimistic

A persistent negative attitude will really start to grate on people over time. Nobody wants to work with the person who is always complaining and it's a label that's hard to shift once you've got it.

How to overcome:

  • Take steps to improve your life outside of the workplace. Often when we bring about positive changes in one area, that positivity transfers into others. We see the world in a new way.
  • Find the root of your pessimism, if you're not satisfied in your current role, actively seek out new challenges at work. Put yourself forward for opportunities to change.

Cannot work independently

This weakness might mean you need more supervision than most or you're just frightened to take on responsibility on your own and often hide within a team.

How to overcome:

  • Start to take on smaller tasks by yourself and build up over time to larger projects. Keep track of your progress.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Often people are afraid of working independently because they're not comfortable with the tasks they're given. Simply asking for help can make all the difference and is all people need for a push to independence.

Cannot work well in a team

The opposite of the above and for those who are too independent (or just plain don't get along with their coworkers) and prefer to keep to themselves. This can also come into play when your ambition outweighs your ability to work well with others.

How to overcome:

  • Improve your listening skills. The more you listen, the more you realise others can have valuable input.
  • Make sure that clear expectations are set for each team member meaning misunderstandings become much less likely.

Sets unrealistic goals

It can be difficult to recognise your own limitations which often leads to unrealistic goal setting which in turn leads to a pile of unfinished goals and projects.

How to overcome:

  • Ask those who know you well what they think your limitations are and plan your goals accordingly around this.
  • Be precise in your goal setting, try not to have large, vague goals and keep things specific.

Conventional

It's very easy to get stuck in the routine of the same taks day in day out. Once you've mastered a task it just becomes another daily convention, you lose your innovative edge and stop learning, and once you stop learning, you quickly lose interest in work.

How to overcome:

  • If your current role doesn't allow for creativity then try and change up your daily routine which can open you up to be more creative.
  • Always be looking for new opportunities outside of your current role. Doing the same repetitive tasks is s sure fire creativity killer.
  • Review taks you've done previously, look for ways you could improve them or make them more efficient.

Procrastinator

You might naturally have a short attention span, or maybe your work just isn't engaging you enough to hold your interest, either way procrastination can be a big problem for you at work. It can make you miss deadlines and become overloaded with work.

How to overcome:

  • Try to identify the most difficult task you have each day and start with these. Ignoring the difficult problems only means they'll be back with a vengeance further down the line.
  • Remove distractions like your phone from the workplace and stay away from social media.
  • Ask your boss for a more engaging workload if possible.

Bluntness

What some people may see as straight talking, others see as a rude bluntness. Being blunt might get your message across quickly, but not always effectively. Once someone has taken a disliking to your attitude they're going to be very disinclined to do a good job for you or want to help you out.

How to overcome:

  • Instead be honest but helpful. Put aside your emotion for a situation and realise that the person you're talking too has an opinion they want respected as well.
  • Observe yourself and people's reactions. With practice you'll be able to gauge how you're presenting to people.

Cannot multitask

While sometimes a strength to be able to focus completely on one task, this fast becomes a weakness when work starts throwing multiple challenges at you at once.

How to overcome:

  • Try to group related tasks together to increase efficiency.
  • Learn to divide your time effectively between tasks. During the hours you've allocated, stay completely focused on the task at hand then switch to the next.
  • Eliminate distractions.

Can't delegate

This core weakness stems from not knowing your coworkers well enough to recognise what they can and can't do coupled with a lack of awareness of your own responsibilities. Delegation isn't just about being a good boss, it's about not taking on what you can't handle and knowing who can help.

How to overcome:

  • Get to know your coworkers properly. List the strengths and weaknesses of each. Workloads can then be easily accessed and assigned.
  • Where there are skills gaps, buddy up the less experienced people with the more experienced for ongoing learning.

Disorganised

Disorganised people can be a nightmare to work with. Often poor with timekeeping, unreliable and inconsistent they frustrate those around them.

How to overcome:

  • Make organising a habit. It helps to start small, just pick one small tasks you can do each day and start to do it consistently, for example, resolve to spend 10 minutes each morning clearing out and organising your inbox, soon it will become second nature. Then slowly add more and more complex tasks to your daily routine.
  • Plan your day properly and write everything down.


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