“'Skills' is a common term in the workplace, and 'soft
skills' has become a fashionable way to refer to adept-ness at
interacting with others."
"In situations where
none of the other three
perspectives in this book provide insight, an objective look at skills
can be quite helpful."
"Many studies have shown that the presence or
absence of soft skills drives a host of work-place issues, including
satisfaction, morale, and productivity."
"Few things are more difficult than taking an
objective look at our
own strengths and weaknesses."
The Secret of Skills
Each new perspective allows you to interpret what you see in a new
and useful way. New interpretations lead to new understanding,
which leads to new actions and ultimately new results. This is the
only way to permanently defeat job misery and to like work again.
If you are reading Four Secrets to Liking Your Work, you may
have tried some of the exercises in Chapter 8. These
exercises help you to work alone to build expertise with your own
perspective of Skills.
Unlike the other three perspectives in the book, the perspective of
Skills is best used alone. Talking about the skills of others can
be dangerous ground; it is far better to keep our attention on our own
skills and what we might do about them.
Try the following exercise to explore and develop your own skills:
- Begin with the exercise on pages 111-112 of Four Secrets to
Liking Your Work. Use it to identify at least one
area of interest that might be beneficial to you.
- Make a list of at least four ways you might learn more about the
skill or skills you have selected. Be sure to include mentors,
peers, books, and on-the-job experiences if they apply. How
might you locate these resources?
- Turn to Table 8-3 on page 114 and review the five-component
model for practicing a new skill. Using the model as a guide, create
one or more practice plan(s) for your new skill(s).
Pay special attention to the last two components in the table; those are the
steps that are most often neglected.
- Create specific actions that you can take in less than 30
minutes to begin your plan. For example, if you want to
find a mentor, a possible action might be "e-mail Sally to see if
she knows anyone who might mentor me." By creating specific
actions, you increase the likelihood that you will actually do them.
- Transfer your actions into a calendar or whatever system you use
for time management. Give them equal weighting with other
important things that take up your time. Be sure to plan a few
minutes every so often to review your progress.
Why this works: This exercise helps you to make a concrete
start on an otherwise very abstract process - finding and developing key
skills that will improve your experience at work.
Why it's not enough: Self-diagnosis of strengths and
weaknesses is always limited by our own biases. An easy way to
overcome these biases is to invest in an objective assessment of your
skills, and those required by your job. (Learn more...)