When you work for an organization, there’s no shortage of feedback loops telling you what to improve. Some might even be helpful and sincere.
When you are freelancing, or in a one-person shop, it can be harder to know what’s worth working on to improve.
In both cases, listen to your customers, they will give you insight. Other’s might just be going through the motion to tick things off a corporate checkbox, and family or friends might say things to be nice. As always, you should be the one who ultimately decides what to improve.
If you need some suggestions before someone else mandates you, or you simply don’t have the perspective to know what skills you should address first, take a look at the following 27 disciplines. Read through the bullet points to get a flavor of each skill set, and then rate yourself on how often you demonstrate each category.
(1=Rare, 2= Seldom, 3=Frequent, 4= Consistent)
Business / Financial Perspective
- Understand from a general management perspective the broad-based requirements of running a business;
- Develop strategies and plans using key financial indicators to effectively manage and guide business processes;
- Understand and integrate multiple, sometimes conflicting, processes and functions into a coherent business operation.
- Drive for business results as measured short term by revenue growth and profitability, and long term by customer retention and market share;
- Recognize the essential importance of customer satisfaction in achieving business results;
- Develop business strategies with a strong focus on financial outcomes for the organization.
- Present or express information clearly, concisely, in an organized way both orally and in writing.
Control and Follow Up
- Systematically review the progress and status of commitments by self and others to ensure completion of tasks;
- Effectively use an information system.
Cross Functional Teamwork
- Know how to negotiate and maintain working relationships across functions and groups;
- Recognize the importance of cross-divisional teamwork for overall organizational effectiveness;
- Recognize diverse stakeholder needs and gains cooperation and support based on shared organizational goals;
- Negotiate work processes across organizational boundaries which effectively balance divisional and company-wide requirements.
- Keep the organization focused on understanding and responding to the needs of customers;
- See customer satisfaction as the priority throughout the organization and the ultimate benchmark guiding decision making;
- Maintain urgency to the requirements of customers through personal involvement and a continuous drive for customer feedback.
- Make decisions; take the initiative; give opinions, and willingly defend own decisions, actions and opinions when challenged by others;
- Take risks to achieve results.
Delegation and Empowerment
- Push decision making to the lowest appropriate level and develop direct report’s confidence in their ability to lead, manage and impact business outcomes;
- Instill a sense of ownership of the business in others;
- Allocate sufficient authority and resources to direct reports to enable them to make decisions and act autonomously within their area of responsibility.
Empathy and Influence
- Recognize the impact of one’s behavior on others;
- Be sensitive to the moods of others;
- Encourage effective behavior in others through active listening, feedback, and persuasion;
- Show a genuine interest in others and their well-being.
- Demonstrate a high level of initiative, drive, persistence and involvement on the job that is self-motivated and self-directed.
Environmental and Industry Perspective
- Aware of developments in the larger business, political and social arena which will affect the business in a significant manner;
- Knowledgeable about trends in the industry both domestically and globally;
- Demonstrate awareness and deep insight concerning customer requirements, emerging roles and opportunities, competitive offerings in the marketplace and own relative standing in the industry.
- Maintain constructive behavior in stressful situations;
- Remain calm and unflustered when pressured by time, people or situations;
- Change the course of action appropriately when dictated by new elements in a situation.
- Produce significant performance results through the creation and management of major new initiatives and agendas;
- Value and encourage innovation and its realization in new products and services;
- Set high standards and monitor key tasks and work processes to accomplish objectives.
- Display sensitivity to the needs, feelings, and capabilities of others;
- Develop and maintain rapport with others;
- Effectively interact with others regardless of differences in status, opinion and temperament.
- Make sound and logical conclusions based on analysis of information;
- Interpret implications of alternative courses of action;
- Select appropriate strategies and resources needed to accomplish specific tasks and solve problems.
- Direct and coordinate the activities of others;
- Delegate authority and responsibility to others and hold them accountable;
- Set an example for others;
- Provide feedback to others on their performance.
- Recognize the importance of teams in realizing business objectives;
- Understand the appropriate circumstances for the use of teams in contrast to individual work;
- Be able to use teams to increase productivity, quality, employee involvement and customer satisfaction;
- Demonstrate the ability to build and mold teams, foster openness and two-way communication and increase overall team effectiveness.
Openness To Change
- Be open to new ideas and willing to experiment;
- Have a tolerance for change, ambiguity, and paradox;
- Demonstrate a willingness to learn and proactively seek feedback;
- Actively solicit information and views from others and use this input to make appropriate change occur;
- Be willing to continually modify existing strategies and processes in order to improve the effectiveness.
Organizing & Planning
- Establish priorities;
- Manage personal and staff time;
- Plan course of action to achieve specific outcomes;
- Organize and readily retrieve necessary information.
Perception & Analysis
- Interpret and comprehend data;
- Identify critical elements in a situation;
- Determine the factors essential to a problem’s solution;
- Perceive relationships between people and between different kinds of information.
- Evoke trust in others by being appropriately open and by behaving in predictable ways;
- Be consistent in own behavior toward others in the organization as well as maintaining consistency between own word and actions;
- Be clear and consistent in own values and act accordingly.
- Demonstrate a deep-seated need for achievement and excellence;
- Be motivated by internal standards and consistently meeting or exceeding other’s expectations;
- Thrive on challenges and persevere despite obstacles;
- Balance needs for power with strong needs for personal mastery and accomplishment.
Personal Strength and Maturity
- Demonstrate resilience in response to short-term and sustained stress;
- Tolerate adversity with a realistic but optimistic outlook for the future;
- Accept the personal consequences of difficult decisions;
- Be self-confident, have a sense of perspective and the ability to learn from mistakes.
- Understand complex business processes and technologies quickly;
- Reduce complex situations to their essentials without becoming simplistic;
- Harness analytical abilities to deeply understand problems, recognize own significance and implications for the business.
- Translate broad strategic intent into concrete strategic plans and directions;
- Define operating objectives and make specific relevant resource allocation decisions;
- Create appropriate processes for a strategy formulation, implementation, and assessment, including designing and staffing the organization based on strategic requirements.
- Think strategically about major trends affecting the business;
- Seek and accurately interpret competitive benchmarking data about organizational strengths and weaknesses in the context of customers, markets, and competitors;
- Develop viable strategic alternatives or scenarios consistent with overall strategic intent;
- Identify opportunities for strategic leverage.
- Create and communicate a clear and inspiring vision for change and customer focus based on the organization’s overall business strategy;
- Engage and mobilize the organization’s commitment with direct and open communication;
- Develop and maintain a long-term big picture view while providing a framework to guide short-term action steps.
Review your scores and list your top five (5) skills that are most consistently or frequently demonstrated. These areas are your strengths, and you should continue to refine them
Next, review your scores and list your bottom five (5) skills that are seldom or rarely demonstrated. These are your blind spots and weaknesses. Do not hide them. Work on improving them so they won’t interfere with your career progression.