Sticky Notes: Help Wanted: Non-Technical Skills

According to our research, the non-technical skills required or desired in employees for whom the largest deficiencies persist fall into four categories.

The technical skill shortage, especially among new young workers, is well documented as a problem (and a training industry opportunity). Less well documented is the steadily growing shortage of non-technical skills, especially among new young workers. We’ve been tracking this trend in our research since 1993. Every year, a higher percentage of managers (in organizations of all shapes and sizes in every industry) report that employees—especially new hires with zero to four years’ experience—have insufficient or less-than-desired competency levels in a wide range of non-technical skills. According to our research, the non-technical skills required or desired in employees for whom the largest deficiencies persist fall into four categories:

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

Integrity and veracity; positive attitude; good workplace citizenship; rigorous self-evaluation

PROBLEM-SOLVING

Ability to understand and appreciate context; information gathering and analysis; critical thinking; good judgment

TIME MANAGEMENT

Prioritization of competing tasks and responsibilities; planning of intermediate goals; meeting project and task deadlines; being on time, or a little bit early; not taking long breaks; not leaving early, and even staying a little late sometimes

INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION

Active listening (and note-taking); manners, empathy, respect; not badmouthing others; keeping one’s word; keeping confidences; clear, accurate, tactful, descriptive word choice; verbal and written expression (coherent, logical, and professional)

Bruce Tulgan is a best-selling author and CEO of RainmakerThinking, the management research, consulting, and training firm he founded in 1993. All of his work is based on 27 years of intensive workplace interviews and has been featured in thousands of news stories around the world. His newest book, “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done”( Harvard Business Review Press) is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers. Follow Tulgan on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his Website at: rainmakerthinking.com.