O is for… Organisation

What are Organisational Skills?

Organisational Skills are the ability to manage yourself (and/or others) and resources to reach a specific goal. The skill is a combination of planning and prioritisation (time management).

Why is this skill important to employers?

Individuals who are organised are usually more productive and more efficient at their job. Employers love organised and productive workers. Whether you are interviewing for a new job or hoping to impress your boss being organised is essential for progression, trust and confidence as well as your day to day job.

How can you show you have this skill?

If you are already in the job your organisation skills can be shown through your working practices: such as organising yourself or your colleagues to meet deadlines, prioritising (and reprioritising) your workload, and dealing with pressure. Even a simple thing like having a clean and organised desk can make a great impression.

At interview a few organisational skills questions nearly always come up. This could be straight-to-the-point questions like “How do you prioritise your time?” It would then be open to you to describe the levels of prioritisation that you use in your industry and why. Alternatively you may get a scenario questions which would start “tell me about a time…” or even a question about what tools you use to organise your time. The easiest way to answer this question is to have a system in place and use it.

Skill Development Plan – Get more organised (and deal with Pressure)

By being more organised you can remove a lot of bad unwanted pressure and stress from your job and the workplace environment.

DIY Action Points:

Here are two things you can do straight away to do this:

  • Declutter your desk (and create a filing system if you don’t already have one). Hours can potentially be lost looking for things or overlooking things that should have been readily available or accessible. Decluttering your desk and/or filing system can improve efficiency, save time and reduce stress.
  • Use one planner (ideally a calendar and to do list) for EVERYTHING work related so that information does not go missing, if you are given a job to do verbally make sure you write it down on your to-do list. If you already have an increasing workload, don’t be afraid of asking when work needs to be done by or asking about prioritisation. Again, monitoring and adjusting your priorities and workload you can develop great organisational skills, and feel less pressured/stressed because you are much more in control.

 

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N is for… Networking

What is Networking?

Basically networking is meeting new people.

Networking is the interaction with others for the purpose of exchanging information, and developing professional or social contacts.

Nothing so scary about that!

Why is Networking important?

Most professionals will be required to do some business development and attract and retain clients or customers. Your employer (or prospective employer) wants to know that you are making the business money. Networking is one of the ways that this can be done.

Attending (and excelling at) networking events can be a great way to meet people and connect. However, you also need to be someone that follows through on the connections made and meets the right people with whom you will have a beneficial relationship – for example: who will give work or make referrals. This ability to do this is the skill.

How can you excel at making connections by networking?

Some people just have that natural personality that means they are like a fish to water at networking events – they are fun and likeable so people naturally follow up with them because they enjoyed their company and want to get to know them better.

However, for the rest of us who don’t naturally have that flow (myself included) we should not despair – there are plenty of opportunities for us to be helpful, likeable and master the skill of networking.

We must start by scrapping the old-school mentality of networking, sales pitches and business cards. More and more networking events are embracing technology and  promoting a ‘generosity’  approach.

Excelling at networking in part comes down to preparation such as knowing who is attending the event and understanding what you can give or offer them, how to can provide value and how you can make a genuine connection.

Skill Development Plan

Your Skill Development Plan should be simple – prepare well and network as much as you can.

Regular readers will know that I have a Filofax dedicated to Networking. There is also a Networking Notebook that forms part of the Printed Portal Organisational Notebooks Range which will help you prepare for networking events.  Additionally, don’t forget to check out our Career Development Prompt series for more networking goodies.

M is for… Meeting Management

Meetings are a large part of corporate life, there may be some days where you feel your entire day is made up of meetings. For everyone’s benefit meetings should be productive and effective.

The ability to run and manage meetings is a skill. Properly run meetings can save time, increase motivation, productivity, and solve problems. However, a badly run meeting can do the exact opposite. 

What makes a good meeting?

A good meeting has a purpose, a set agenda, only has the necessary attendees, and is run efficiently. As an employee you want to be able to show that you can run efficient meetings and obtain the necessary outcomes.

Well run meetings can save time and money by getting everyone in one room and getting the job done – but this will also need you to call on your other skills such as presenting, problem-solving and decision making.

The easiest way to demonstrate and develop this skill is to practice. Run meetings, set and control the agenda, take the weight and responsibility off your boss and you will soon be showing that you are a capable individual.

L is for… leadership

What is Leadership?

The definition of leadership and what it means in the workplace varies between companies and between individuals. The dictionary definition is

“the action of leading a group of people or the ability to do this”

If you haven’t already – read this great article from Forbes – what is leadership?

 

I am not an expert on Leadership and I am not in an obvious ‘leadership role’, but I have come to realise that there is plenty that you can do to help demonstrate and develop leadership skills even if you are not in a leadership role so today I am simply going to share my skill development plan:

  1. Take on a Leadership Role Outside of Work – I currently do volunteering activities and participate in a number of clubcs etc. I used to take on leadership roles when I was at school and university and this year I am taking on a commitee role to help boost skills outside of work.
  2. Do Leadership Training Where I Can – I always try to boost skills by signing up for various training courses when they become available and by reading books. This year I have doing confidence, public speaking, coaching training to name a few in 2014 I hope to find some more leadership orientated courses to sign up to whether they are through work or otherwise.
  3. Write an Action Plan for the Workplace – I have started to write a personalised plan on how to become a leader in my own workplace. This involes learning more about the workplace culture, getting to know people and their style of working, identifying what I can contribute to the workplace.
  4. Volunteer to help – In 2014 I am going to be a ‘yes’ person. I am going to say ‘YES I am here to help’ to every opportunity to take on extra-credit assignments, contrbute to key projects and organise.
  5. Be good at my job (yes it sounds simple – but you are never going to be considered a leader if I can’t do my own job and meet my own deadlines).
  6. Communicate, make friends and make time for people – I previously worked in an open plan office, but in my current workplace everyone has their own office and the secretaries make the tea so it can be hard to mix and get to know people. So I try to make every effort to do so and though this I am also trying to establish relationships with more senior members of staff as well as my peer and colleagues.

 

K is for… Knowledge Management & Sharing

After a short break we are kicking off again with the A to Z of Skills.

This week we are picking up at the letter ‘K’.

K is for knowledge Management.

What is Knowledge Management?

There are numerous opinions on what is defined as Knowledge Management. In simple terms it is intellectual assets –  knowledge, information and data.

Knowledge Management strategies are implemented in the workplace to identify, capture, structure and share an organisations intellectual assets to enhance the performance of both its employees and the organisation. By enhancing performance, it can also make the organisation more efficient, more profitable, and more competitive.

There are 3 key reasons why actively managing knowledge is important:

  1. It can help to make decisions. Key decisions.
  2. It builds a learning and sharing routine. Sharing knowledge can ensure that employees learn from experience and use and combine knowledge to improve and enhance performance.
  3. It stimulates change and innovation.

Simply put: Knowledge can get you ahead!

Why is Knowledge Management and Knowledge Sharing important to employers?

Employers place value on intellectual assets, not just their physical assets. After all they have invested in their people, their employees. The employ and retain individuals for their knowledge and the ability to utilise and share that knowledge.

Knowledge within a company should be managed and shared – key individuals can help with that but it is usually a case of the Employer and the Employees working together to put a system in place to allow for faster innovation by improving R&D resources and allowing others to build upon the ideas and work of others.

Knowledge management is not strictly an individual skill  However, as an individual you should be expected to manage your own knowledge, share your knowledge and contribute.

A perfect example of what you can do as an individual is to create and use Knowledge Files.

Skill Development Plan

  1. Work on your individual Learning and Knowledge (this should always be building and growing).
  2. Share your knowledge and participate in your organisation’s KM system. Help it build, help it grow and maximise your own learning.
  3. If there is not one in place suggest they set up a knowledge management system or if you are an SME or have not got a budget for it – Do it yourself!!

Action Point: Write a Knowledge Management Strategy.

 

 

 

J is for… Judgement

atozofskills

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.

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.