Project Practitioners > Knowing Your Limitations

Knowing Your Limitations

By Patti Gilchrist

According to fictional San Francisco police detective, Inspector Harry Callahan, in Magnum
of the Dirty Harry film series, “A man's GOT to know his limitations.”

While it is true that there comes a point where every individual eventually reaches their limitation and thus you must know your boundaries, how can organizations encourage growth for people to realize their full potential without driving them over the border? And what is the responsibility of the individual to strive to attain their full potential without overstepping the boundaries of their limitations?

Below are some tips for individuals and hiring managers to aid in addressing this:

Tips for Individuals

  • Be honest and fair in evaluation of your skills and capabilities.
  • Ask for input and feedback from peers, mentors, managers, and others in your trusted network.
  • Ask to understand expectations of the new role and what would make someone successful in the role.
  • When taking on a new stretch role, be sure to schedule checkpoints to monitor your progress and ask for candid feedback.

Tips for Hiring Managers

  • Coach and mentor to ensure that the resource is getting the support needed to be successful in the role.
  • Ensure the resource has the tools necessary to perform the role.
  • Provide adequate training to close the gap on any required skills.
  • Empower the resource to be successful.
  • Consider offering rotational assignment opportunities other exploration paths so internal resources can test drive the position before making it permanent.
  • Terminate only as last resort. This option should primarily be used if there was evidence of an integrity issue (i.e., the individual misrepresented his/her skill set).

Individuals have the responsibility to act with integrity and not mislead or misrepresent their skills. They also have the responsibility to ask questions and clarify to ensure understanding of the role and expectations.

Hiring managers have the responsibility to the candidate to set the resource up to be successful by setting clear expectations of the role and to empower the individual with the tools, coaching, training, and authority to be successful in the role.  

Additionally, hiring managers must always remember the impact that they have on the candidate’s life for a potential misfit or bad hire. LinkedIn offers tips to aid in making an objective hiring decision:

Whether you are a hiring manager or an individual applying to a new role, will you follow the simple advice offered here?

Well, “go ahead - make my day.”

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