What is one skill that you see as an area for improvement in employees?
To help you improve your skills or the skills of your employees, we asked business leaders and CEOs this question for their best insights. From enhancing teamwork and collaboration to gaining confidence sharing knowledge, there are several skills that were identified as opportunities for growth.
I find that teamwork and collaboration require the most effort to develop and maintain. This is especially so when onboarding new hires. It can take time to integrate new employees into a team and turn them into a cohesive unit. The grind can also wear down teamwork and erode enthusiasm about collaboration, so do what you can to make sure your employees recognize and embody the values of the organization and its culture. Agile methodologies can help to enhance teamwork and collaboration on any team, not just software development teams.
- Debra Hildebrand, Hildebrand Solutions, LLC
One skill that always has a scope for improvement in conflict resolution. This skill is crucial when employees work in a team. When people of different mindsets and thought processes work together, conflicts are bound to happen. You can ignore them. But, as an employee or employer, you must learn the skill to resolve them quickly so that workflow isn’t hampered much. Attaining perfection becomes a bit more tedious when team members shift or alter quickly. So, there is always some scope for improvement in this skill. As an employer, you need to make sure that your team members are able to cope-up with the stress that follows.
- Caroline Lee, CocoSign
Effective communication is critical for employees at all levels. Great communicators inject clarity into everything from day to day tasks to a company's strategic vision. Communication is also a skill that can be deliberately honed and refined. If you are serious about improving this skill set, you have plenty of options. First, you can get feedback about your communications skills from your colleagues at work. Then, you can seek to address weaknesses in your ability to communicate. Finally, you can join a group like Toastmasters to deliberately practice your skills in a structured environment.
- Wesley Jacobs, Apollo Medical Travel
Most employees are so afraid of data. Not many people are naturally inclined to numbers, but the lack of data literacy in most employees nowadays is striking. So much of business is data-driven and data collection has never been more robust as it is now. Employees need to have a better grasp of data and how to interpret it to make projections and inform their work as a whole.
- Bill Mann, Restore Privacy
Every company needs to develop their marketing skills to increase both visibility and relevance when attracting potential employees. Rely on tools and apps that can help with automations, and lean heavily on dashboards and data reports. Once you have a complete picture, it’s much easier to develop creative new strategies, or decide when it’s time to make a big pivot.
- Ryan Rottman, OSDB Sports
One of the main issues I have seen in my career is that a lot of the employee issues relate to lack of understanding of the cultural differences we all bring to a workplace. Often a situation is taken out of context, which then necessitates a lot of time and effort to look at the situation and determine the root cause. However, when these situations take place, it is great when you are able to use what happened as a learning session for those involved, whereby you explain where each person is coming from. This helps in the future with them understanding each other better, to try to understand first, ask for clarification, and in some cases for one of the employees to modify their behavior or communication as what may be acceptable in his/her culture, may not be acceptable where they are now.
- Patty Hickok, NANA Regional Corporation
Employees must avoid multitasking to achieve an expected professional outcome. Projects due in a week should be prioritized over projects due in the next few months. Even if the projects do not have a time limit, encourage your employees to set one for themselves, so that project deadlines do not conflict with later commitments. Multitasking reduces productivity by 40% by diverting employees' attention and energy. Instead, please encourage them to use time tracking apps to prioritize tasks, establish timelines, and set project milestones.
- Axel Hernborg, Tripplo.com
As employees move forward, post 2020, I am suggesting candid conversations with managers; with employees asking, what are my skill gaps as our organization moves forward? Companies are making shifts in their focus post 2020 and this is a perfect time for employees to position themselves for their "next" within an organization. Do not rely on your Rear View Mirror as this is not the best compass for what will be next. Before this conversation, do some homework and give important forethought as to where you perceive your gaps to be in the new order of your organization. This reflection will shed important insights as you map your "next" with your current organization. Be open and responsive to hearing these ideas for the ultimate success.
- Diane Fennig, The Gallagher Group
As a team focused workforce, we value strong active listening skills. Being able to retain information is a great quality to have. However, when an employee is able to retain that information and apply it to their efforts, momentum picks up for not only that individual's workflow, but also for the team at large. Where there is a lack in any part of our team, we all experience the effects of holes in our system. But when we are all on our A game, bringing the greatest awareness of how each individual supports the team as a whole, we surpass even our highest expectations.
- Joshua Chin, Chronos
Active listening is one skill that employees, as well as leadership, can always improve on. Showing that you are listening by using nonverbal cues, such as head nodding and smiling, indicate that you are present in the conversation. Secondly, it is essential to refrain from interrupting the speaker, or objecting, until they have finished speaking. Finally, providing feedback in a respectful way, while summarizing the point that they have made, indicates that you have understood the point the speaker has made. Oftentimes by being too eager to speak, we fail to accurately absorb what is being said to us. Therefore, active listening is a good practice for everyone, both professionally and personally.
- Jorge Vivar, Mode
The ability to change our minds. I often see employees get very myopic on certain ideas they have simply because they haven't taken the time to step outside of their tunnels and ask themselves how this idea could go wrong. I think this is rooted in the human tendency for confirmation bias, which is where we only seek out information that confirms our beliefs rather than those that rebut it. This makes it harder for us to change our minds on poor ideas when presented with better ones.
- Tim White, milepro
Employees should ask more questions to further their understanding. It is always better for the business and your performance to fully understand what is expected of you before you try to work on partial information. Employees who ask lots of questions inevitably have more developed relationships with their supervisors and leadership. It shows initiative and the will to understand a process or problem that is crucial to the successful functioning of the company. Being inquisitive makes for better overall performance. Sometimes, things need to be clarified, validated, or approved before any of us know for a fact that our instinct is the right approach to a situation.
- Brad Neathery, Oak & Eden
Every position requires a certain degree of creativity. Creativity helps not only broaden perspectives within your department, but it can also be an effective tool for problem-solving. Employees should feel like there’s an open space to share their ideas. Brainstorming sessions can be mutually inspiring and lead to new approaches that employees would have otherwise overlooked.
- Nicole Ostrowska, Zety
Time management skills are crucial to a productive office. Many employees face roadblocks or distractions when working throughout the day, and are usually more productive when they first enter the remote office. The difficult projects that require the majority of your attention can be completed during prime hours of the day with little interruption, while phone calls and messages can be handled with minimal focus.
- Jodi Neuhauser, Ovaterra
Knowledge sharing is an essential skill that turns personal knowledge into company know-how. Unfortunately, many employees are not willing to share their expertise out of fear of judgment, to keep a competitive advantage, or because they're not aware of the value it can bring to their team. To encourage my team to effectively share their knowledge I like to split it into smaller teams and pair up different people for diverse projects. In this way, everyone can interact with others on a more personal level and feel more at ease about sharing.
- Georgi Todorov, ThriveMyWay
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