J is for… Judgement


Good Judgement Skills are part of your decision-making skills and can be defined as:

the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions

Good judgement is important if you are applying for a managerial or executive role (or if you want to show that you can take on / be promoted into this sort of role). From an employers perspective corporate values and considerations will need to be included in your decisions. (See also Decision Making Skills)

How do you show you have good judgement skills?

You will need to be able to demonstrate and display your decision-making and good judgement when making decisions in your day-to-day job. Where possible show that you have gathered in all relevant information before making a judgement and remain unbiased when making that decision. Judgements should be made on facts and objective data not the opinions of those around you and it is important to show you have sound judgement – without being influenced.

Skill Development Plan

1. Learn to make better decisions with practice and training.

When making decisions based on judgement you should:

  • consider all aspects in the complexity of issues
  • consider the known outcomes
  • consider your previous experience and knowledge of the issues
  • learn from your own mistakes (and the mistakes of others)
  • Think “outside the box”

Action Point:  make a written note in your career journal of key learning points of all decisions you make (or observe).

2. Reduce Bias

Bias can influence judgement – to show good judgement you should try to show that you are not influenced and try to eliminate or reduce the impact of bias. You can do this  by being aware of the possibility that you might be biased and identifying the source and taking it out of the equation.

Finding Time for… Career Development

Part of this blog, DIY Career Development, is about advancing your career, but when you are so busy just doing your job – how do you find the time to actually work on your career development? As a professional you need to find time to do your job well, develop a career development plan and carry out the actions required to develop it.

So how do you make time for this worthwhile endeavour?

1. Assess the gaps in your current schedule

I approach it the same way as I approach anything: make time by filling in gaps and scheduling it in. Personally I tend to use my lunch break as and when I need to and I have scheduled in a larger slot on a friday evenings for writing up my Career Journal.

2. Make your Scheduled ‘Career Development Time’ a habit

Once you have scheduled your time for career development – try to make it a routine so that you can make it into a habit. Use the time for Progressing and reviewing your career development so that you get to the point that you naturally do it.

3. Break your Career Development Goals into bite-sized chunks

Think about your allocated slots (whether they are 5 minutes, 15 minutes or an hour) and break down your actions or next steps for each of your goals into actions that will fit those time slots. I use my Career Development Goals Notebook as my to-do list, it makes it easy to break down my goals into simple action points. All I got to remember is to break down into a step that will fit nicely into my allocated time slots.

4. Review your Progress

Finally, reviewing your progress is essential on many levels such as making sure that you are actually making progress, keeping yourself on track and making sure you are managing your time correctly. Try and Schedule in a Monthly Review.

How do you find time for yours?

I is for… Interpersonal Skills

atozofskills“Good Interpersonal Skills” are often listed as a requirement on job descriptions. We have all heard the term – but what exactly are interpersonal skills? Interpersonal skills are essentially good social skills, the phase interpersonal skills incorporates those skills that we need to get on well with others and are predominately, but not limited to, Communication Skills.

Interpersonal Skills include:

Some of which have already been dealt with separately in this series.

Why are these skills important to your employer?

For professional jobs being a good communicator (and having good interpersonal skills) is vital. Your ability to communicate with your peers, your boss, your clients and/or customers gets your job done. You are also a face of the Company. Bad Communication Skills reflect badly on your Employer. So those are two reasons not to employ a bad communicator.

That said you will also need the other skills and qualifications to get the job.

How can you show that you have good Interpersonal Skills?

For most excelling in Interview will show good interpersonal skills, but if you are in a client facing role for example, you may need a few extra statement and example regarding your excellent interpersonal skills to go above and beyond the standard interview skills.

Quite often we take interpersonal skills for granted and assume that an interviewer will just know that your communications skills are outstanding. Don’t forget , nerves can often get the better of you in interview so it is important to have a few key examples that you can draw on if you feel that you are not performing at your best and want to address the point.

Skill Development Plan

In order to develop the skill, you need to first assess the current status of your interpersonal skills and identify what can be improved.

1. be more aware of how you interact with others to help you identify areas that you might need to develop. For Example: do you need to learn to listen more? or do you need to work on your clarity in verbal communication?

2. Once you weaknesses have been identified you should observe others and find a style you want to take on. For example of you get tongue-tied explaining a particular process to a client, observe you colleagues or boss, note down the good points or ask them for tips.

3. Once you have established your weaknesses and how you might improve them all you can do is practice.

How to really save time when you delegate?

Delegation is a great time management technique. It can free up your time for more important things.

Or does it.

How do you ensure you are actually saving and managing time effectively?

1. Work Well as a Team (and respect your team-members)

Delegation works best when you have a streamlined team to support you.

So start by delegating to the right person. There are some jobs that should automatically be delegated simply because someone else knows how to do it easier and better than you do. Or you employ them to do it. Have a system in place. If there is certain work that you delegate time and time again it will because routine (for both of you).

However, you should not delegate where you can eliminate. And don’t forget to respect the time and abilities of your staff – if you simply dump the garbage jobs, you won’t have a good working relationship and your staff won’t go out of their way to help when you need it.

2. Make sure you are helpful from the outset

If you are delegating make sure YOU are helpful and consider what the other person needs to do the job efficiently. There is no point in delegating if it will take them all day to find the relevant information or they keep coming back to ask more questions when you could have outlined everything they need quickly in an email, dictation or memo.

Think long-term – Consult with your staff or team first. Select people you think are both capable of doing the job and would like to do the job, and if they don’t already know how to do that particular job then train them.

3. Set aside time to talk (or check in)

If it is the type of task where your assistance may be required book in a slot to discuss or review the work that suits everyone so you don’t have numerous and unnecessary interruptions. For example explain that you are doing a lot of work but you will check in at 4.00pm if they could have everything ready with a list of queries if any at that time.

4. Delegate the whole

Other people can get more involved when working on something as a whole rather than being micro managed through every step. If appropriate delegate a full task and let the individual work on everything building up their experience as a whole. Next time round you will save time as they can take the initiative and get stuck in.

5. Delegate to a variety of people

Delegation is a good way to teach and train your team. Don’t always give the work to the stronger team member or the most efficient team member. Again, think long-term – you should try to train up you staff equally and do not play favourites.

Any tips to add? Share them in the comments.

H is for… Humour


The ability to use humour in the workplace is a skill. Yes it is.

Individuals are often put off using humour in the workplace and reserve it for more relaxed circumstances with family and friends.

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Why is this important to your employer?

Humour is not a job requirement. However, the ability to build a rapport with your colleagues, boss, clients and customers will be. Having a sense of humour and engaging in some mild and appropriate banter can help build and cement these relationships. Everyone is human and allowing your personality to show through can remind others of this.

Don’t forget, humour can also be used in interviews to allow your personality to shine through.

Why is this important to you too?

Used properly there are plenty of applications for humour in the workplace:

  • building rapport and relationships with others
  • conflict resolution or negotiation strategy
  • putting people at ease
  • harnessing the power of persuasion
  • stress management / stress relief
  • boosting public speaking and/or presentations
  • boosting sales
  • networking
  • helping with team building
  • creates a positive atmosphere

How can you show you have this skill?

The main way to show this skill is to use it. Use your sense of humour and laugh relax and enjoy other people’s jokes. You can then tell your own (bearing in mind context, timing, place and audience).

Skill Development Plan

It is hard to come up with a plan for this skill as it requires you to a) relax and b) understand humour (and the sense of humour of those around you). Learn by observing others, and try to achieve a natural humour. Try and take the time to get to know people better first so it is not forced and you can tailor your humour more effectively.

How to have more Productive Meetings (as an attendee)

Meetings are an important aspect of professional jobs and quite frequently regular meetings are scheduled with a particular client, customer or team. However, when meetings are regularly held it is all too easy to have boring and unproductive meetings. It is important to set an agenda, stick to the agenda and do the necessary follow-up work.

So how do you have more productive meetings when you are not the one in control?

1. Prepare for the meeting

Prepare for the meeting by reviewing the agenda beforehand. Usually an agenda will be circulated to the attendees in advance of the meeting. If this is not done on a regular basis mention this to the person calling the meeting (or their PA) and see if you can get a ;send agenda 24 hours in advance’ routine in place. This benefits all attendees, allows up to do any necessary prep work and gives you time to consider any other business that could be appropriately dealt with at the meeting.

The monthly meetings notebook from Printed Portal has space for 10 agenda items with space for notes or annotations and a larger space at the bottom of the page for A.O.B items. When I receive and review an agenda in advance of the meeting I quickly copy the points across from the agenda into the notebook. Mentally as I am copying these I consider each point and evaluation any comments, questions I might wish to raise and prepare any necessary contributions.

2. Arrive on time and Stick to the Agenda

Meetings should start on time to not waste time. As an attendee try to arrive promptly and actively contribute where possible to keep the flow of meeting progressing.

3. Take Notes

This is part of actively contributing. Be alert and make concise and relevant notes.

4. Confirm action points

Confirm action points during the meeting. On the action points page of the monthly meetings notebook from printed portal I keep track of follow-up actions that are prompted by the meeting. If there is a deadline or a prerequisite action these should be noted as well and checked off when completed. I use this in conjunction with the calendar pages to plan my time.  Be clear about your role and your objectives.

5. Only ask questions that need to be dealt with at the meeting

(and are a good use of everyone’s time).