Five 'must-have' skills to succeed at the workplace

Pallavi Jha        Last Updated: March 12, 2015  | 08:33 IST

Pallavi Jha
In recent years, a hiring trend we have seen gain popularity among employers is the increased focus on the soft skills of an individual.

In today's corporate world, it is these skills that differentiate one job seeker from another. Employers believe that to hire the right talent, they need to seek individuals with not only the required technical skills, but with strong soft skills to supplement them.

In today's competitive world, mere technical analytical brilliance is not enough. One needs emotional intelligence and people-management skills - the absence of either makes it more difficult to succeed at the workplace.

Dale Carnegie Training has put together a short list of the five most coveted skills in the workplace today.

Leadership Excellence

According to the Dale Carnegie India Employee Engagement Report 2014, companies in India are facing an impending senior leadership crisis with under a third (31 per cent) of employees expressing satisfaction with their top management.

In our globalised world, organisations are increasingly facing a leadership crisis where the skills for critical thinking, engaging others and visioning are in short supply.

Senior leaders set the tone for the organisation and define its goals. These behaviours and goals need to be realistic, clearly defined and should be communicated throughout the organisation.

This will create a shared sense of responsibility for the success of the organisation.

Effective Communication

Being able to communicate effectively is the most important of all life skills and should never be ignored. Communication skills are usually and correctly perceived as your verbal skills including your ability to speak clearly, your vocabulary and tone of voice. However, communication is a much broader term that also includes body language, hand gestures, maintaining eye contact and listening effectively.

Not only will mastering these skills take you far in your professional life, they will also have a significant positive impact on your personal relationships. Good interpersonal skills enable us to lead a team and work effectively in groups. Mastering this skill will enhance your ability to master all the other skills we talk about here.  

Public Speaking Mastery and Powerful Presentations

It is common to feel intimidated by the idea of having to present in front of a group of people. It is also common to face this situation at the workplace - if not often, then at least at some point in your career. The secret lies in planning ahead and practising regularly.

This will not only provide a boost to your confidence but will also ensure your presentation is clear and effective. This year, taking a decision to hone your public speaking and presentation skills will not only contribute to your individual success but also lead to significant business success.

Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution

Middle managers require proficiency in this skill as they deal with "egos" both above and below their management level. They have to ensure that the goals set by their seniors are achieved while getting the most out of their teams. This requires that they exercise both creative and analytical solutions.

Employees who can do this will discover that it is much easier to rise in the ranks without stirring up resentment and, in fact, have people rooting for your success. Organisations find these employees invaluable in many different types of situations as they can turn challenges into opportunity - right from driving customer satisfaction to giving constructive feedback to mergers and acquisitions. The real skill when it comes to problem solving lies in the ability to come up with long-term solutions to a problem.  

Art of Negotiation

While we may know that negotiation is a regular component of personal and professional lives, it is a tool that has either limited or insurmountable impact depending directly on how skilfully it is used.

The art of negotiation lies in the  ability to walk away from a discussion with an agreement that leaves both parties satisfied, with no one feeling at a loss.

The fact that a conflict or disagreement will arise at the workplace is inescapable. It is an environment in which individuals with different backgrounds, beliefs come together and inevitably share a difference of opinion from time to time. Negotiation plays a critical role in preventing such situations from leading to arguments. Acquiring the art of tactfully handling sensitive situations through effective communication and useful negotiation tactics will take you a long way in your professional career.

Although these skills are absolute must-haves in 2015, they are also lifelong assets that will get you noticed, make you memorable and are transferrable between industries, functions and positions. But please remember, a "must-have" is of little informative knowledge and value unless one learns and executes the above. The proof of the pudding is in its delivery.

(The author is CMD, Dale Carnegie Training India)

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