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I recently gave a project to a colleague. A week later when I checked the status, this colleague delivered the task, but the quality was not acceptable. When I asked if she was proud of this work, she stated several reasons that she couldn’t successfully complete the assignment. My frustration grew, not necessarily because of the lack of quality, but more because of the “can’t do” attitude of this person. I proceeded to give several simple solutions to overcoming her perceived challenges. A lack of initiative and problem-solving ability is frequently cited by HR professionals and corporate friends as their biggest frustration with employees and interns. Here is a quick test to see if you are a CAN DO or CAN’T DO performer.
1. When faced with a challenging assignment do you:
a. Quickly get overwhelmed and list (out loud or in your head) all of the problems you might face incompleting the task?
b. Get excited to show your strategic thinking and creative abilities?
2. The career search is overwhelming. To increase your chances of scoring a great job do you:
a. Post your resume on several career sites so a lot of employers will see your information.
b. Customize your resume and cover letter for every job you see, read industry publications to identify companies that are thriving, find the contact person for whom you wish to work and apply for informational interviews even if there isn’t a public job listing.
3. You have too many things on your to do list and your boss or professor gives you yet another assignment. Do you:
a. Get annoyed and just get it done so it is off your desk.
b. Consider this a way to show your great multitasking ability and complete the assignment flawlessly.
4. You are asked to do research about a competitor for a presentation. Do you:
a. Conduct a quick Google search and when you can’t find much ask your boss where you should go to find the information and then copy the company background from their web site.
b. Visit the company web site, press room and investor pages, review their annual reports, do a news article search and create a formal competitive analysis that includes a side-to-side comparison of not only this company, but their top three competitors.
5. You are asked to stay late for a big client meeting. Do you:
a. Tell your boss you can’t because you made dinner plans and you have a long commute. Besides, you are exhausted and don’t get paid nearly enough to work such ridiculous hours.
b. View this as an amazing opportunity to grow professionally as a valuable member of the team.
6. In school when you got a lower grade than you expected did you:
a. Blame the unfair teacher whose assignment was unclear to begin with and warn your classmates not to take that course.
b. Review your work and think about how you can tweak your study habits to make sure you get a better grade on the next assignment.
If you answered mostly “a,” you should stop making excuses and start taking more responsibility for your professional success. You truly have control over the choices you make and your work-ethic. Do an honest assessment of your skills and abilities here and fix any issues with a personal SWOT.
If you answered mostly “b,” well done! You have a passion for your work and are likely resourceful in how you navigate personal and professional challenges. You don’t wait for others to drag you along, you illustrate a positive outlook and make success happen for yourself. Create a personal PR plan to increase your chances for success.
Be confident and take initiative. Make challenges synonymous with opportunities. This outlook change ensures you will lead a happier and more productive personal and professional life.