We currently have a large influx of new-to-the-workforce employees coming through our company. While they are (for the most part) technically able, a few recent incidents have caused me to think about other skills that are necessary in the workplace.
Many communications in the office take place in writing. We may not think of email and IM (instant messaging) as writing, but it is.
The ability to write ideas clearly and without slang is an important skill. Verbose emails are just annoying to those receiving them. (Emails should also not be used as an extended conversation, either. See “How You Pass The Buck Without Knowing It”)
Clear, concise emails are easy to respond to, and will be dealt with more quickly than ones that have to be decoded.
I know some people will call me a snob on this, but I subscribe to Henry Higgins’ viewpoint that if you speak properly, people will make favorable assumptions. Avoiding colloquialisms, enunciating properly and using proper grammar go a long way to giving yourself an professional polish.
And while I’m at it…avoid offensive and off-color jokes. I recently had to confront a supervisor in my company about one of his employees. I told him I never wanted to hear the word “whorehouse” floating over the wall again. ‘Nuff said?
You don’t have to have all your papers and emails alphabetized and compartmentalized. But you should be organized enough to have the materials you need with you when you need them, and to be able to find notes you took earlier. Whatever system you use, make sure it is useful to you.
In most cases during meetings, people are asked to introduce themselves. However, if you are ever in a position where you have to introduce a client to your team, proper introductions are essential. Wandering up to someone and saying “Yo, dude, this here is John Smith” is a poor way to introduce a CEO.
Proper introductions mean you introduce the “lower ranking” person to the other. “Mr. Smith, may I present my co-worker John Doe?” If you have any questions, there are plenty of articles on the ‘Net.
The ability to get through a meal without disgusting those you are with is not only good behavior, but it can also mean the difference between getting a job and not.
This one came back to me in full force when we were talking about table manners with our Brownie troop. I recalled a young man, straight out of college, who was being interviewed for our consulting firm. His technical skills were impeccable, and he flew through the technical portion of the interview with ease. Then we took him to lunch.
He stuck his cloth napkin into his collar, talked with his mouth full, shoveled his food in, chewed with his mouth open, reached across the table, helped himself to things on other people’s plates and ended the meal by blowing his nose into the napkin. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. How could we put someone like that in front of a client?
What non-work skills do you think are essential? Share below.
Photo by House Of Sims