We all want to progress in our careers. But it can be hard to pinpoint exactly how we can progress, especially when we get so bogged down with busy schedules and deadlines.
Outlining your soft skills is one of the easiest ways to self-develop and to track your career progression.
As Director of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab, I’ve always strived to build a business that is innovative and forward-thinking. Take one of our latest ideas on work-life balance we’ve put into action and are leading the way in – our ‘hangover days’.
Another direction we have taken is to really focus on our employees’ personal development by recently implementing a new 360 review process that all staff members go through. It’s a really useful tool to get all other employees to give their rating on a list of soft skills for every other employee (done anonymously, of course).
If you don’t have this kind of feedback system, it can be difficult to know which soft skills are the ones you should be focusing on. But don’t worry, here are four are well worth your time.
It goes without saying that being a good listener gets you far in life but when it comes to your career, it’s one of the most important soft skills. If you feel you could improve on this, paying more attention and listening is a good start. Sounds easy right? Well, you’d be surprised how many people think they’re listening but are actually zoning out mid-conversation.
This may be something personal to work on but your career progression will benefit tenfold as people will come to you more easily with problems for you to help with. The more evidence you can show of helping teammates with their problems and tasks, the more you will be noticed and relied upon. Don’t be that person who is always the last to get back to others on emails! If you have to be asked a few times to finish something, it’s time to put this soft skill high on your improvements list.
When have you ever heard someone saying ‘I love not knowing the answer’?… Chances are never! If this is one of your top skills, you’re a highly valuable asset for any team. Some might think this doesn’t apply to their role but there are obstacles that appear in every job, whether big or small, that we are constantly problem solving without even realising sometimes.
Getting into the habit of going straight to the facts whenever a problem arises will improve your solving skills in no time. Remembering this process will put you in great stead on how to be the problem solver of the group:
- Problem occurs
- Find out what caused it, without focusing on blame
- Identify all resources to hand
- Is there a deadline that the problem needs to be solved by?
- If so, recommend and communicate who needs to work on what and when
- Assign yourself a task you’re best suited for or offer your services
A big part of being a problem solver is knowing when to ask for help and where to turn to for expert advice; asking for help is a skill in itself!
Always looking out for number one in work and in life isn’t a very favourable trait and you don’t want to have a reputation of being selfish. Nobody likes a coworker who isn’t as willing to help out or is very unresponsive. If you’re not being an active team player, chances are it will affect your progression.
In order to be good at teamwork, you have to empathise. Knowing everyone’s roles along with their strengths, weaknesses and barriers will help you in your approach and communication. If people are needing your help in order for them to get on with their role, try to give them that help. You’re all working towards the same goal, after all.
If you think you’ve been a little self-focused, offer a helping hand to make up for it. That’s what it takes to be a good team player.
Being approachable shouldn’t be taken for granted. This skill is a particularly hard one for people in senior roles as often colleagues can find managers unapproachable due to the working dynamic. No matter the role, if you’re not seen as approachable, this can have a causal effect on communication, meaning if you don’t have this soft skill right, you’re going to suffer with the rest.
Ways to improve approachability is showing willingness when people need help, paying attention in meetings and whenever anyone else is speaking, and not being overly assertive. It’s important not to shut yourself off too much as people might get the impression you don’t want to be approached as much, so just be mindful of your position and tone. If you put more effort into helping, people will pass this on.
About the author
Claire Crompton is the Co Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab. Claire has a passion for communication, a strong commercial focus and appetite to deliver consistent results for all clients.