from Solutions Counseling & EAP
by Keri Forbess-McCorquodale, MS, LPC, LMFT, CEAP
Increasing Your Success at Work
A large part of my practice is helping people with their work life. I work with supervisors on how to be a better supervisor. I work with employees to increase their satisfaction at work and help them find better balance between work and home. And sometimes I help people decide if it is time to move on from a work position. Regardless, I want my clients to be successful and be able to stay in a job, move up or move on because it was their choice, not a decision that was made for them.
So, what we are actually talking about this month is job security. What increases the likelihood that you will be viewed as a great employee and will get to stay or go on your own terms? Soft skills.
Believe it or not, technical skills will get you only so far. No matter how great you are at your job duties, if you lack soft skills you will not be viewed as valuable as those employees who do have those skills. 89% of recruiters say when a hire doesn’t work out, it usually is because of a lack of soft skills.
Soft skills are behaviors and personality traits that help people prosper at work. You may “wow” people with your work product, but if you regularly miss deadlines or don’t listen to feedback (which leads to costly delays and upset customers), then you are not as valuable to the organization. At some point, your technical skill will be overshadowed by your lack of soft skills.
While there are many soft skills, here are the top skills polled employers look for:
Dependability: How dependable are you at work? When you are at work, are you on time and fully present? Do you meet deadlines? When someone gives you a task, can they forget about it because they know it is in your capable hands? Being dependable means being trustworthy and reliable. Aren’t those qualities you look for in others? Imagine how appealing they are to a supervisor.
Teamwork/Collaboration: Being a good team player is key to being viewed as valuable in an organization. Your ability to get along with your co-workers and being likable will determine if your co-workers want to work with you. Listening to others’ ideas, and valuing opinions other than your own is extremely important. Understanding that the team’s success is your success and rolling up your sleeves to solve problems with your colleagues when challenges arise will help others see you as a great team member.
Problem-solving: Good managers look for people who can think for themselves. Good managers also value their employees’ ideas. Bad managers micro-manage and have everyone doubting their own abilities. If you are in a supervisory role, take a look at yourself. Many supervisors are insecure, which makes them tend to feel threatened by outside ideas. This teaches employees not to make a move without getting prior approval. Not being allowed any autonomy will ensure their exit.
As an employee, anytime you have a problem, you need to also have a solution. Maybe your solutions will not be used, but at least your manager knows you put some thought into the situation. Once you feel your supervisor trusts you, you should be able to move into a “Keep me posted” instead of “Ask my permission” space.
Flexibility: How are you with the concept of change? Most people don’t love it, and many people hate it. If you hate it, you will avoid it and be angered when it is forced upon you. The ability to see change on the horizon and shift accordingly is extremely important. Dealing with change without griping or shutting down is imperative. Understanding that changing, developing and evolving is the only way any organization is going to maintain its existence is key.
If any of these have “hit home” with you, congratulations! Awareness is the first step to making anything better. There are many books on this topic, or you might find counseling/coaching helpful. Technical skills will get you the job, but it’s the soft skills that will help you keep the job. Think of soft skills as “career insurance.” Now, who doesn’t want that?