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What Skills Do I Need to Improve?

What Skills Do I Need To Improve?

Improving Skills and Knowledge to Succeed at Work

There are a number of key skills that will lead to success in every workplace. In order to improve your chances of success, you need to continually develop these skills and your knowledge. Nobody knows everything. Everyone is in need of further training, both in terms of gaining additional knowledge and in terms of gaining additional skills.

What skills and knowledge do you need to improve?

There are literally millions of things you could learn, but you don't have the time, so the question becomes:

If success at work is your goal, then what skills and knowledge should you focus upon and improve?

Here is a suggested list of skills that you should make the object of a serious study.

1. Face-to-face Communication Skills

Face to face communication is the art of transferring your ideas, information and emotions from your mind to the minds of others.

No matter what is your profession, you would be better at it, if you were to become a better communicator.

You need to gain the willing cooperation of other people. You need the cooperation of your boss, your colleagues, your customers and your suppliers. And in order to gain that cooperation, you will need to communicate with them in ways that are clear, persuasive and attractive.

So you could spend some valuable hours studying the principles of:

  • Clear communication
  • Persuasion and
  • Negotiation.

2. Writing Skills

You may need to improve your ability to express yourself in writing.

To some degree, most organisations rely on the accurate transfer of information and that calls for the accurate use of language. When speaking, most people make multiple errors of grammar and vocabulary, and nobody seems to mind. But when you are doing business at work, then the business agreement is usually in the form of a written document; and that document has to be worded properly.

How would you rate your ability to express yourself properly in writing? Are you a good writer or do you lack knowledge of grammar, punctuation, logic and rhetoric?

If you are not as good at writing as you need to be, then study grammar, study punctuation, logic and rhetoric.

Start by buying a copy of a book called 'Rex Barks' by Phyllis Davenport.

This book is the gateway to grammar - and Phyllis is phenomenal.

3. Time Management Skills

Time management is the art of making more progress in less time and effort.

Your time is your ultimate resource and you need to master it.

Most people waste too much time. They fritter it away and waste the hours.

Time management is about mastering what I call the P-list.

  • Planning - Planning is the art of thinking ahead to discover all the elements necessary to achieve a goal.
  • Prioritisation - Prioritisation is the act of putting things in the correct order.
  • Preparation - Preparation is the act of making everything ready, before you need it.
  • Prevention - Prevention is the art of solving a problem even before it happens.
  • Protocols - Protocols are written statements of what you will do under a certain set of circumstances.

Planning, prioritisation, preparation, prevention and protocols make life run smoother and according to plan.

How can things go according to plan unless you do have a plan?

One last P word... PAPER!

The key to time management is to "think on paper".

  • Keep good notes.
  • Make lists of things you need to do.
  • Don't trust your memory, write it down.

It doesn't have to be on paper, it could be on your computer, just so long as you write it down!

You'll find that the act of writing something down will help you to remember it, since the act of writing forces you to think of that idea for longer and to give it SUBSTANCE in the form of a written word. Memory depends on you making a mental record of an event. You cannot recall a mental event that never took place.

4. Memory Skills

Whilst we're on the subject, let us make improving your memory an item in its own right.

We live now, in the information age.

You are bombarded daily by information relating to work, politics, world-events, friends, family and Facebook.

The danger for most people is that they are DISTRACTED by useless information, rather than being INFORMED by valuable information.

The key to being successful in the information age is to distinguish valuable information from trash. You need to be able to:

Skip the trash, and memorise the information.

You can improve your memory skills by:

  • Consciously trying to remember things.
  • Writing them down and forming a mental image of the idea.
  • Repeating the information to yourself within five minutes of originally seeing or hearing it.

So, if you meet a new person, and you want to remember their name, do the following:

  • Consciously decide that you WILL remember their name.
  • Listen to their name and think how it is spelled.
  • If you cannot spell their name, ask how they spell their name.
  • Say their name a number of times within the first five minutes of conversation.

"So Gupta, how was your trip here today? Did you find it easy to get here?"

Memory is not a fixed asset. It is variable; like your muscle strength or fat levels.

Your memory will respond positively to training.

Since everyone would benefit from training their memory, maybe you should too.

5. Improve Your Confidence

Confidence is the positive emotion that you feel when you believe you are up to the task.

A lack of confidence (self-doubt) is the negative emotion that you feel when you think that you are not up to the task; i.e. that the task, (or person) will ask you to perform at a level higher than you are capable.

Self confidence is therefore created by preparation and planning. (See above notes on time management).

Self-doubt is fostered by a lack of planning. If you know, in your heart of hearts, that you are not ready, then you won't feel confident.

Self confidence is created by study and practice. If you know more, then you will feel more confident than if your mind is a blank.

Self confidence is created by positive self talk.

  • If you talk to yourself in supporting terms, then the emotional mind responds positively.
  • If you say self destructive things to yourself, then your emotional mind will respond negatively.

So, don't overdose on humility. Don't be too modest. Big yourself up a bit!

Provided that your positive thinking is backed up by massive amounts of planning, preparation, knowledge and practice, then you are entitled to tell yourself you are a potential champion with all the attributes of a winner.


Be wary of doing the positive self-talk without the addition of sufficient planning, preparation, knowledge and practice.

If all you have on your side is self-confident talk, but you have insufficient knowledge, insufficient skills and you have done insufficient practice and preparation, then you will come to a nasty end.

Confidence is a supplement to ability. It cannot replace it.

Summary of key skills and how to improve them

If you want to do well in work then you will need to improve your skills.

To improve your chances of success, improve your face to face communication, writing, time management, memory and self-confidence. Professional training is the perfect way to take these skills seriously. Take a look at the following courses to improve on the skills mentioned in this article:

  1. Face to face communication training
  2. Written communication training
  3. Time management training
  4. Memory & problem solving training
  5. Self-confidence training

And aim to get better every day!

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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