Three Key Job Skills Everyone Needs, But Not Everyone Has

Generally, when one thinks about essential job skills, the first thing that comes to mind are the technical skills for a position. While individuals are typically hired for the technical (“what”) skills they bring to a position, these skills alone are often insufficient in helping them realize their true potential in a role. In general, to accompany these “what” skills in one’s area of expertise, it is important to develop skills in relation to “how” we perform our work.

While not an exhaustive list by any means, there are three “how” skills that are crucial for practically any successful employee. 

Effective communication. This may sound like a no-brainer, but effective communication is paramount for any work engagement. Typically individuals may fall into two general camps—those who shut down and stay silent in the face of disagreement and those who become combative in such situations. In being an effective communicator, it is important to know when you should speak up (in a respectful manner, of course) and when you should listen and accept feedback. For example, it is important to speak your mind and share your ideas as diversity of thought is linked to high performance. However, if your idea is not accepted, seek to understand why, accept the feedback, and keep pressing forward with your work.

Flexibility over complaining. Complaining is an unfortunate reality of most organizations. While complaining may serve as a temporary coping mechanism for overcoming frustration, its benefit largely stops there. Instead of viewing problems as negative stressors to complain about, try to shift your thinking into one of flexible problem-solving. That is, view problems as solvable challenges. While this is of course easier said than done, when you feel stuck, one strategy is to simply ask others for their feedback and advice. Such flexing is surely to result in increased knowledge, higher confidence, and greater overall effectiveness. 

Asking for help. Related to the above point is the skill of knowing how and when to ask for help. So often, we may feel reluctant to seek out help due to potentially being viewed as incompetent in our roles. However, asking for help has many benefits, including but not limited to learning new skills, developing stronger relationships, and improving productivity. To ask for help, consider approaching a trusted colleague, share a list of approaches you have tried, and be specific in your requested ask. One research-backed and effective form of help is of coaching, which helps employees reach their full potential.