Essential Skills to Succeed in the Modern Workplace

The modern workplace requires professionals to possess a unique set of skills in order to thrive and achieve their career goals. These essential skills include the ability to communicate effectively, navigate uncertainty, and work collaboratively.

While it’s important to develop industry-specific hard skills, building interpersonal skills is just as critical for professional growth and success.

1. Communication

Professionals can secure a job through their hard work, intelligence and qualifications but their career progressions will stall without the right skills. Communication, networking, negotiation and management are essential in the modern workplace.

Post-pandemic work requires teams to collaborate remotely across cities, states or even countries. Effective communication is key to smoothing team collaboration and helping everyone stay on track with projects.

Those who possess strong interpersonal skills will find it easy to build relationships with others and connect with them, whether they are co-workers or customers. They will be able to empathise with the challenges faced by others and find ways to overcome them. This will give them an edge in the workplace as it is a major component of problem-solving, which is another skill that can help you excel in your career.

2. Adaptability

Certain work skills are evergreen — teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability. But, the modern workplace is always changing, and companies that don’t change with it are left behind. New competitors pop up, customer tastes shift and technology evolves at an incredible pace.

Being able to adapt to these changes is essential, and demonstrating that you are open to new ideas, flexible with shifting priorities and eager to learn more will help you stand out from the crowd. For example, if your role requires you to interact with colleagues from different countries, being able to adapt to their different working styles and beliefs will demonstrate that you have a good understanding of other cultures.

To hone your adaptability skills, try practicing by asking for feedback from colleagues and supervisors regularly and staying up to date on policies and procedures.

3. Problem-Solving

Every professional faces problems on a daily basis. If you lack effective problem-solving skills, you may struggle to find ways to overcome challenges in your career.

Problem-solving involves identifying issues, finding solutions and implementing them. It also includes researching and analyzing options to make informed decisions. In interviews, employers ask candidates to explain how they’ve used problem-solving in past roles. Look for examples in your work, academic or volunteer experience to show how you’ve applied this skill.

Whether you’re facing a recurring obstacle in your job or the prospect of losing your paycheck, learning how to solve problems can help you overcome hurdles and reach your career goals. Start by assessing your skills and determining which areas you need to improve. Then, get out there and practice.

4. Teamwork

Some work skills are evergreen, like teamwork, problem-solving and adaptability. However, many others are becoming more critical than ever before.

For example, professionals who can’t focus for extended periods of time are less productive and more prone to mistakes. This is especially true in a workplace that’s global, has multi-generational employees or includes remote workers.

Empathy is another important soft skill to have, as empathetic people relate better to co-workers and customers. They understand when a teammate’s personal life takes precedence over a project deadline and offer flexibility when necessary.

If you want to improve your teamwork, start by asking your teammates what gives them energy and drains their energy. Then, identify a business outcome you’d like to change and consider how improving teamwork might help achieve it.

5. Leadership

Leadership involves being able to guide and inspire others. It also includes being able to set goals, provide feedback and communicate effectively with employees. This skill requires the ability to adapt quickly and be flexible in a fast-paced environment.

A leader is able to take on challenging projects and work with teams from across the country or globe, even if they don’t have direct reports. They can help others find solutions to complex problems and make strategic decisions.

Developing these “soft” skills takes dedicated practice. Thurman recommends that professionals look for opportunities to hone these abilities, such as volunteering in their communities or seeking out professional development courses on communication and leadership. It’s also important to stay curious and open to new opportunities. That way, professionals can continue growing and improving their careers.

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