With there being an increasing amount of talk about school and even university not preparing people for the real world, are there a set of essential skills that everybody should have? If so, where would you get the skills?
In conversation with many professionals about the essential needs of people in business, there are a number of things that are consistently mentioned. Here is a look at each of them:
1. Time Management
Whether you are a sales rep on the road or an office administrator, there is a need for you to be able to manage your own time properly. Now, while the tricks that the sales rep would use are different to the office administrator, are there general principles that should help, regardless of exact details?
The answer is yes. Although the rep might be trying to work out how to reach and visit as many people as possible, with the office administrator looking at planning any number of things, they would both still be able to use things like a prioritisation grid. They must also learn how to batch things to get as much as possible done in the time allowed. All that would really differ is how they applied the knowledge. I personally found that learning how to batch similar tasks saved me a massive amount of time.
Too often these days we hear of young people that join a company who are still wanting to communicate in what can be described as ‘text speak'. Unfortunately, with the increase in use of formats that want you to reduce wording, such as Twitter, or texts that allow only so many characters, it is easy to get into the habit of doing it all the time. While that may be acceptable in a social environment, many people would not want their new staff communicating with their clients that way or, perhaps, even with other colleagues. This is not as all inclusive as time management because some people that are in certain roles never have to put anything in writing.
3. Communication Skills
In addition to actual business writing skills, everybody should have decent communication skills. Regardless of whether you deal with clients or just other staff internally, you should have the essential skills to communicate with people properly. So, even if you are in a role that does not require you, so to speak, to put pen to paper you will generally need to communicate verbally. Almost without exception, this would be required of everybody.
Why? It's simple. Poor communication leads to errors, and errors are costly. They make prove costly financially, or in time, having to fix what went wrong. Either way, it's costing you money, because as they say, "Time is Money!"
4. Customer Service
Whether your clients are external or internal, the chances are that you should be able to provide them with the quality of customer service that would resolve their issues. Do you look or sound like you are going to want to help them? Or do your own colleagues hate having to approach you with something because they know how you will respond which is not usually in a positive manner?
Now, have you noticed how interlinked these are? Poor communication can cause mistakes, which then means that you're losing time (which maybe already stretched to the max as it is) fixing things, dealing with customer service issues!
That's why you need all of them! Having just one of these skills will not make you efficient, because not having a skill in any of the others is still likely to cause you problems. But if you DO have all of these skills, you'll be an efficient machine that almost anybody would be happy to work with!
So, having identified skills that almost everybody would need in a work environment, where would you get them? The most straightforward answer is to do a course of some sort. However, even though this will only provide you with the tools, you will still need to put the skills you've learnt into practice. A follow up to the training is required as you actively practice your new skills and is similar to how you would practice a new sport after taking one up. Therefore, you should attend a course that will provide you with a follow up action on how to practice those skills. That way, you know that you can implement them.
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