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Blind Spots: How They Hold Us Back in Our Careers

by Joan Tabb in Blog

A current client of mine is in a very uncomfortable situation in her career. She just received her performance review and it wasn’t what she was expecting. Not at all. She’d been at the company for over two years and had had stellar reviews from her past two managers. And she thought her performance, this time, was at the same level. And the self-assessment she wrote up for her manager was equivalent to the ones she had submitted to her first two managers.

Yet the outcome was entirely different. And the review, though reflective of the work she did, put emphasis on what she considers the small areas of challenges that she faces yet some of her most important accomplishments were missing or given passing notice.

Right from the start, this new manager and she were not communicating well and she was often disappointed in his lack of attention, meandering on in their 1:1s and lack of interest when she invited him to what she considered relevant meetings.

Even though she mentioned her disappointments with him and tried to work on a better relationship, she kept insisting she would and could make the relationship work and she commented several times that she was certain she could find ways to complement his style.

That was not to be. And as her coach I kept pointing out that this was not a good match; that sometimes two human beings are like water and oil and are just not meant to work well together.

But her blind spot, her unwillingness or inability to see the truth of the situation, held her back, at least for a while.

Her blind spot was an irrepressible confidence in the ability to make ALL relationships work; despite evidence to the contrary.

She had had other malfitting managers in her career before but always told herself a story about why it didn’t work out and how, had she just worked a little harder, it could have worked out.

Fortunately, she is finally opening her eyes to the reality and is in the midst of a serious job search process both within and outside the company. And she now knows what works for her best with a manager and how to probe and ask high gain questions during an interview and with some of the folks who they’ve managed before (if possible) to anticipate whether it would likely be a good fit.

Opening our eyes to see our self-limiting ways to processing and interpreting our career situations is a necessary and very productive ongoing exercise for career development and advancement.