My title was just recently changed from Training and Documentation Specialist to People Development Specialist. I believe it is more impactful now and I'm scared that I'm not able to fulfill the role in the truest sense of the title. What if People will not develop? That is the challenge - to keep the employees engaged, aligned to the business goals, and have the desire to develop themselves.
Now do I want to worry about other people? I will just think about what I need to develop in myself first and we'll figure out if that will be applicable to others. Let us consider these soft skills that can be learned and applied early on.
Here are some of the essential skills that I can share based on the learnings in my leadership course at U of T and my training in UK last year:
Time and Cost are 2 of the 3 constraints of a project and definitely managing these 2 are your top priorities in order for you to become successful in whatever project or career you are developing.
1. Money Management - knowing how to create budget, living within means and not accruing credit card debt is crucial. In the past, financial literacy was rarely discussed except for those interested with studying commerce and business. Today, no matter where your income is coming from, you need to become good in your bookkeeping and balancing the debit and credit. If you are good with managing your own money, then you'll be good at doing it for your organization. Companies are now focusing on projects and initiatives that save money. This skill is a must.
2. Time Management - With so many social media apps and other distractions, we sometimes lose focus on important things. We don't want to miss an appointment, or be late in a meeting or submitting a school work or perform a task. The skill to balance time is as equally important as in balancing the books. There are so many things to do now - household chores, getting physically fit, meeting friends, attending class, aside from spending the bulk of your time at work. The key is to learn how to balance the time, identify which are priority, which can be done at the same time with another (multi-tasking) without decreasing the value of the outcome or which can be transferred or shared with another. Learning how to self-manage your stress-level and your time is an indispensable skill that everyone needs to be confident with. Success is based on you and you alone.
3. Conflict Resolution - Employers are now adding this as a skill that they will look for in a candidate. Being in L&D, I have opportunities to attend free training. I have attended numerous sessions about personality traits, finding out your temperaments and handling difficult people. The sessions on influencing and conflict management are my favorites. All these are good sessions except that the success depends on the application and experience. I hope that we will have opportunities to handle situations that call for preventing or resolving conflicts. I only remember WIN -WIN as my keywords and it meant to always choose the positive outcome and whatever is best for everyone.
4. The Ability to Stay Positive - Have you watched or listened to the news lately? All you see is violence, terrorism, war, poverty, people losing jobs - all negative. Maintaining a healthy outlook on life has been a skill that many people encourage. Today, since the workplace is stressful, it is essential. Having the inner resource of being able to see things in a realistic way can help with anxiety, nervous tension and constant worry. If you haven't figure it out yet, the Divine intervention is foundational. You can't do it on your own. God is your inner strength. For example, understanding that a negative feedback from your direct manager is never going to make or break you. No one needs to be perfect to succeed. It is the person with the ability to accept constructive criticism and the maturity to accept imperfection, that truly succeed.
5. Emotional Intelligence - EQ is better than IQ. Employers are increasingly focused on how well employees fit in with their company culture. Thus, people with more highly developed emotional intelligence will have a greater chance of making it. Possessing technical and social media skills is not enough. Being able to build business relationships in person using emotional intelligence and cultural awareness is more vital.
If you are a new graduate or just starting out in your career, or seeking a new career or niche in the field, you need to do a self-assessment first to check where you are in these skill sets. If you want to develop into something, you have to remember that times are changing and you need to adapt to the emerging trends in the workplace. School might help in developing these in you. If you expose yourself in activities where you can exercise these and learn from other people, then you have the chance to improve and apply these skills in your career. If not, you have to start somewhere, read, learn from others. Find a mentor or someone you can trust to help you. Keep an open mind and open your eyes to these opportunities. Good luck!