Concept 51: Workplace Skills
Successful professionals in any career or job tend to exhibit several specific behaviors that we will refer to as workplace skills. Some of these slightly overlap with what are known in the business world as soft skills or power skills, which we will discuss in the next section. The basic workplace skills anyone looking for nearly any kind of job needs are:
Work ethic: how seriously one pursues the expectations and tasks associated with their job
Punctuality: arriving on time and ready to work, as well as meeting deadlines
Time management: since most workers divide their work time among many different tasks and responsibilities, workers with good time management skills efficiently organize their work hours to accomplish all the requirements of their job
Teamwork: working well with and supporting other employees to achieve objectives
Communication skills: verbal and written skills help workers perform their jobs by getting ideas across to colleagues, supervisors and customers, using appropriate language, grammar and spelling
Good character: acting within expected ethical, legal and professional guidelines, even when these may not be specifically stated
In addition to the universal skills described in the beginner reading, there are a few other skills – sometimes referred to as soft skills or power skills – that employers have begun to value highly in the last decade. These are:
Creativity: Given the rapidly changing world we inhabit and the constant pressure to improve and bring something new to market, employers are increasingly looking for creativity among all levels of employees. While creativity has always been a valuable asset for things like marketing, design and entrepreneurship, some employers are encouraging creativity in places like packaging, assembly line improvement, and even mundane tasks like clocking in. One manufacturing firm in Georgia, for example, holds a monthly meeting with the board of directors where any employee in the company can make a presentation about how to improve the company. If their idea is adopted, the employee gets a bonus and an extra week of vacation. Research has also shown that when people get to use creativity in their jobs, their job satisfaction increases.
Critical thinking and problem solving: Weighing pros and cons, finding patterns in large data sets and pre-emptively solving problems are hallmarks of the types of employees businesses are constantly seeking. This is largely driven by the fact that most companies do not know what the problems of tomorrow will be. Very few people could have predicted how the 2020 pandemic would have changed things like how restaurants operated, schools functioned and industries like live entertainment re-tooled. For many companies, it was the critical thinkers that kept them afloat.
Flexibility and adaptability: With technology constantly changing, businesses relocating at a record pace and workplace arrangements becoming less rigid, employees who can maintain efficient work rates while “going with the flow” are increasingly valuable.
These are sometimes referred to as soft skills or power skills because they are not specifically related to any subject-specific content. Like most other skills, everything here can be developed through on-the-job experience, learning new technologies or processes, being willing to say yes and take risks, and embracing change when appropriate.
Another workplace skill that is likely to increase in importance over time is diversity and cultural sensitivity. As workplaces become more diverse, open and global, employees who can respect and adapt to the way others see the world will be increasingly valuable. In addition, the customer base is becoming more diverse, so it’s critical to understand the needs of people who are different from you. Not only does this improve how employees act with each other internally, but in the age of social media, companies want to portray this image outwardly as well.
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Identify skills that are required to be successful in the workplace, including positive work ethics, punctuality, time management, teamwork, communication skills, and good character.