Recently the Wall Street Journal published and article on skills needed in the workplace for 2013. They were described as must have skills. To be successful in today’s work environment requires you to be constantly aware of what is going on around you. The work place will always be challenging and competitive. So any help one can get on that will assist them should be sound and workable. The author cited four skills she postulated that would be in demand by employers, they where; clear communications, personal branding, flexibility and productivity improvement. So let’s take a moment and examine these must have skills

First of the four mentioned is; clear communications. Who can argue about the need to be able to communicate effectively? One could say it’s a no brainer, but poor communication is often at the center of organizational problems. Clear communications according to management consultant Alan Weiss means “to read with comprehension, write with expression, speak with influence, and listen with discernment.” It would seem that developing clear communication skills isn’t just for 2013 but throughout one’s career if they hope to be successful.

The second must have skills focused on personal branding. The author equated a brand to how a person represents themselves in the world of social media. However, a brand is much more than your persona on social media. It’s what sets you apart from others, it’s what makes you a sought after individual. Development of a strong brand puts you on a potential pathway of becoming a thought leader. But, it must be carefully cultivated. As the author correctly points out, if you post things that puts you in unflattering situations you do risk tarnishing your brand. It would be much better for you to be known as a networking expert, than networking clown.

Must have skills three and four deal with flexibility and productivity improvement. It’s interesting how the author describes these skills. Flexibility is another way of describing adaptability or adapting to changes that take place in the work setting. Having to do with understanding that change takes place and nothing is ever the same. Actually, with some managers, they make sudden changes, not because they’re needed, but mainly because of their own neuroses.

While the article author attributes flexibility as getting out of one’s comfort zone, it’s much more. Having flexibility or adaptability requires you to be aware of written as well as unwritten rules. It’s the unwritten rules that require you highest level of flexibility as they can put in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations and you will have to make it up as you go because there are no rules for you to follow.

This brings us to productivity improvement skill. It’s finding ways to work smarter in your environment. The article suggests you volunteer for projects as a method of increasing your productivity. The underlying idea behind this suggestion is that employers are looking for a 20% improvement in employee performance. This is just the employer’s way of saying they want an additional eight hours from their employees under the guise of saying this is showing initiative. There is indeed merit in finding ways you can improve productivity and it will help if you volunteer for the boss’s pet projects, but you have to weigh this with couple of factors. The first, do you have the skills, knowledge, time, and temperament to take on additional work.

Not all projects are equal. Special projects are considered special for a reason. Usually they are time consuming, ill defined, and laden with traps and pitfalls that will deter the stoutest of heart.

Second, you must assess the risk that you will be undertaking. Is this a high risk assignment where the reward will be high if you succeed, but your chances of success are narrow? You need the skill to assess these types of projects, a skill that you cultivate by taking on projects of moderate risk and will be seen as productivity improvement and you have a much better chance of succeeding.

Clear communications, personal branding, flexibility and productivity improvement are good skills to have, but they’re not the only ones you’ll need to be successful at work. But they’re a good start and its best you start mastering them now and build on them as you move forward.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2012. All Rights Reserved