Work it like a Boss: 7 Professional Skills to Develop Today
Do you ever wonder what professional skills you could develop to get ahead at work?
Not only do you NOT know where to start, but you’re also short on time AND money.
You feel stuck in a catch-22; you have to spend to get ahead and can’t get ahead without spending.
But what if we told you there is a way to get ahead at work, and it won’t cost you a dime?
Professional skills- or soft skills don’t require fancy certifications.
They are not readily taught in college but can mean the difference between getting a second job or beating out your peers for the next promotion.
With a lot of intentionality, you, too, can develop these skills and build the career you have always wanted.
What are professional skills?
Soft skills are habits or personality traits that can positively influence how you do your work.
They also describe how you relate to your work environment and the people around you- meaning if you have developed these skills, you can be a more productive employee and a motivation to others.
Compared to hard skills that are more technical and job-specific- soft skills are easily transferable from job to job and across industries, making them an invaluable asset.
How do you develop these skills?
Some of these skills will result from schooling or life experience but are often taught through professional development programs- while others that are personal habits will require discipline and commitment to build.
Here is how to start building new habits from the Harvard Business Review:
- Understand why you are creating a new habit, like being on time; this will help you keep motivated when things get in your way.
- Reflect on why you haven’t established the habit. Is the line at the coffee shop too long by the time you get there? Or is traffic already a beast by the time you hit the highway? Getting up just 15 minutes earlier can make all the difference.
- Nudge yourself into your new habit. Create a schedule or start with microhabits. These are little wins that, over time, can become a full-fledged habit.
- And lastly, treat yourself with grace. Forming habits is hard! And despite what you might read, changing your ways may take you longer than 21 days. But every step you take forward is a win.
Now, let’s look at each and any skills that complement them.
7 Professional Skills to Develop Today
Without communication, we could not get anything done. Communicating efficiently is paramount to productivity, whether via email, phone, or instant messenger.
People who are skilled communicators understand the importance of delivering information, can exchange ideas quickly, and can listen to the responses of others.
They can also interpret body language, making them wizzes at handling social situations, negotiations, and finding compromises.
Some of the skills associated with communication include:
- Conflict resolution
- Business writing
- Customer service
- Explaining the thought process behind decisions or actions
- Active listening
- Concision, or using words efficiently
- Asking for help or advice
- Building buy-in to an idea
- Dealing with difficult people
- Handling office politics
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
- Managing a positive relationship with an employer
- Resume writing
- Small talk
- Social skills
- Verbal communication
- Written communication
Having a job often means working with others in a group setting. This skill can be challenging for introverts or people needing more conflict resolution capacity.
But mastering teamwork can be a boon for you at work.
People who work well in teams know how to collaborate effectively. They can navigate the different personalities within their team to get the job done and defuse conflicts as they arise.
To accomplish this, you will need the following skills:
- Willingness to help others
- Ability to persuade or convince others
- Working towards a common goal
- Conflict management
- Conflict resolution
- Relationship building
- Team building
- Team management
3. Time management
Time management is the ability to manage your time wisely.
While you are only one person, there is always more than one task that needs your attention- knowing how much time to allot to each to get through your workday is invaluable.
Unfortunately, this skill may not come naturally and requires some intentionality to develop.
People who are good time managers have these skills:
- Stress management
- Attention to detail
- Intrinsic motivation
- Meeting deadlines
- Project management
4. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, or EI, has been a recent addition to the workplace within the last 20 years.
EI refers to how we express feelings, relate to others, and interpret their behavior. In today’s climate, the ability to gauge your co-worker’s actions, speech, and behaviors is vital.
While it may be natural for some to pick up on social cues, it’s a real challenge to others and may require additional coaching and effort.
Some skills to help you do that are:
- Conscientiousness, or the desire and ability to treat others well
Leadership is a trait that some people are born with, but one that can also be cultivated and harnessed through training.
Good leaders can instruct and guide people while motivating them by leading by example. Great leaders also know how to mentor and instill those same principles in their subordinates and peers.
Some of the skills that show your leadership abilities are:
- People management
- Motivational skills
- Project management
- Analytical skills
- Goal setting
- Stress management
- Calm under pressure
- Coordinating resources
- Decision making
- Growth mindset
- Information gathering
- Meeting management
The world can never have too many problem solvers- it’s as true in the real world as in the workplace.
Employers actively look for employees who can demonstrate the ability to respond to a situation proactively and find creative solutions.
The capacity to view a circumstance from different angles to resolve an issue shows critical thinking and can be applied to many scenarios.
Problem solvers are good at:
- Research abilities
- Understanding of data
- Risk management, or the ability to evaluate potential hazards of various plans
- Remaining calm during stressful situations
A flexible employee can be worth their weight in goal, especially in fast-paced industries.
These employees are cool under pressure and can pivot their work to whatever situation presents itself- willing to evolve past pre-established workflows to get the job done.
Flexibility is like a muscle that requires strength training to build.
Flexible people have a firm handle on these skills:
- Remaining calm in stressful situations
- Approaching challenges with a positive mindset
- Critical thinking
- Willingness to consider additional information or change your opinion
- Able to change your mind
- Anger management
Why Soft Skills Matter
We know how hard it can be to stay competitive, but fancy degrees and certifications are only part of the bigger picture.
Soft skills are not just good for you professionally, but they also greatly benefit your company!
According to Indeed, building these capabilities can help you keep organized, grow your network, prove that you can build leadership skills, and take initiative.
For companies, employees with these skills are more likely to stay longer and help maintain relationships, creating a positive work environment.
The best news is that you can develop these skills by making a conscious effort to change- and while that is free, the dividends from that investment will pay off for the rest of your career.
Time to Work It
Now it’s decision time.
Will you stay stuck in your job, longing for a future you may never have?
Or will you take charge of what’s ahead by embracing a new you?
An improved version of the face in the mirror that takes the initiative, actively listens, provides feedback, and can step up when things are tough.
By taking small steps daily, you can evolve into the professional that shapes your hereafter into a smashing success.
So pick one skill, or pick them all, and work them like a boss.