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10 skills every employee must develop

By Ajay Mohan Goel
Last updated on: September 15, 2015 20:58 IST
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The more you educate yourself, the faster you will move, says Ajay Mohan Goel.

Skills every employee must develop

Over the last fifty years, average life expectancy of a human being in most developed and emerging economies has increased by about 20 to 25 years to become 70 to 80 years.

This also means that the work-life span ranges from 35 to 50 years.

Fast technological changes are also causing likelihood of work profiles spanning across at least 2 to 4 different industries.

This necessitates each employee to manage and develop themselves into better professionals and adapt to ever changing demands of new age jobs.

Here is a set of ten soft skills, essential for work-life effectiveness and professional growth.

1. Teamwork 

Being able to operate efficiently and effectively in a group draws on a number of other skills; the ability to encourage and inspire other team members to perform better; being able to compromise and ignore one's own ego; communication and other interpersonal skills such as negotiation, influencing, advising and interpreting.

2. Build networks 

Connecting with people possessing common professional and personal interests can help enrich each other with ideas, explore new business opportunities, collaborate, understand diverse perspectives and make better decisions.

Attending seminars, conferences, networking dinners, and using social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can be effective methods for building extensive network of contacts.

It is also important to build internal cross-functional networks within your own organisation.

3. Play on your strengths 

The famous management guru Peter Drucker opined that a person could perform only as per his/her strengths.

One cannot build upon weaknesses.

It is important to know your strengths and concentrate on them instead.

4. Focus on etiquette 

It is the law of physics that any two moving objects in contact with each other create friction. This is also true for all human beings.

Paying authentic compliments to others by using simple words like 'Please' and 'Thank you' go a long way towards building lasting relationships.

Listening to others speaking and not interrupting them, avoiding cross talks, promptly responding to emails or SMS also demonstrates respect for others.

5. Clear communication 

This includes verbal, written, telephonic, email, letter, meetings or while making a presentation.

It is vital to be clear about what you want to communicate, choosing the appropriate medium, words, correct language, infographics, imagery, structured flow, and attention to details.

Ability to listen to others and seek to understand their point of view is valuable in the long run.

6. Ability to work in a boundary-less organisation 

Organisations have become flatter and distributed.

Often managers have to work together with customers and suppliers across functions and geographies.

In this networked and extended organisation, it is critical to get consensus across functions and get the work done.

Ability to design and manage as well as participate in such processes is a critical success factor.

7. Think like an owner 

Thinking beyond your current role is a key differentiator.

Apply a leadership or an owner mind-set to your role and it will enlarge your perspective, enable your solutions to fit in with the larger team goal, and help you weigh the interests of other stakeholders in the decisions being made.

This will ultimately help you garner bigger responsibilities.

8. Create a global mind-set 

The first dimension of this is the ability to adapt with people from diverse cultures and their cultural norms, without violating your own sense of self.

Check out the range of acceptable behaviours and comfort zones; and how will you tailor your response to particular situations?

This will give you a global perspective.

The second dimension is the ability to organise your work in line with the 24X7 time zones, when you work with colleagues, customers and suppliers distributed across the globe.

9. Work ethics 

Ethics refer to values and behaviours which people feel are moral.

A positive work ethic is the collection of all the values and actions that people feel are appropriate in the work place.

Individual attributes that can significantly impact your work performance are habits such as honesty, integrity, positive attitude, cooperation, respect, compassion and taking ownership.

10. Keep learning and teaching 

Aristotle had said, 'Teaching is the highest form of understanding.'

The more you educate yourself, the faster you will move.

By teaching others what you have learned, will urge you to keep learning.

It is also important for you to know what is the best way to learn.

One of the biggest hindrances to learning can be your own ego.

Analysing your mistakes and successes is also a great way to learn.

So display a commitment to learn and develop yourself, as well as invest in developing other people.

This may not be a comprehensive list, nor very original.

Yet this compilation of powerful skills required at the work place will enable you to stand out amongst your peers and define your growth prospects.

The author Ajay Mohan Goel is executive vice president, Wadhwani Foundations.

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Gangplank HQ/Creative Commons

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