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Future proof your career with new skills

How can you achieve success in business? Joanna Gaudoin shares nine key skills to help you connect with clients and prepare for your future

Mental health awareness

The past year has been a challenge. But now, more than ever, it’s important to focus on the skills we need to have to stand out positively at work, keep our job and progress as we want to. We also need to stay ahead of the game as artificial intelligence increasingly comes into play and starts to take over certain tasks.

 So, how can we differentiate ourselves? We need to build on the skills that aren’t easily replicated by a computer. As you get absorbed in delivering your day-to-day work, whatever that involves, it’s easy to lose your competitive edge in your career. Slowly and gradually, you fall behind, realising too late that you haven’t focused on yourself and you’ve missed out on career opportunities that you want. Or you’ve ended up somewhere that you didn’t intend to be and you aren’t happy (that’s not to say that good things can’t happen without thought and planning).

Not focusing on your competitive edge means that you may potentially suffer more dramatic consequences as businesses make tough choices. There is a danger in ignoring your development, so it’s worth making the time.

I work with many clients to help them overcome specific challenges and/or work on fundamental development areas that move their careers forward and enable them to elevate their performance and their team’s performance. In short, I help them to find, learn and hone their competitive edge.

Therefore, I’ve distilled the nine key (and often neglected) skills that I believe professionals need to work on to:

  • maximise their potential;
  • improve personal and team performance; and
  • achieve the career success that they want.

I’ve listed each skill below, briefly explained why it matters and given one tip.

You can also sign up for a free, short email series and ebooklet to help you understand and improve these skills (at tinyurl.com/BAM-Booklet). The online session I ran for ICAEW can be found at tinyurl.com/BAM-FuturePro

1 Consider personal impact

People don’t make decisions based purely on fact, so how you engage with them affects whether they form positive relationships with you or not.

Tip: Consider carefully how you want to come across – thinking of it as three words often helps. This needs to be genuine and achievable for you. Read more about defining your personal brand

2 Manage senior relationships

Whether you like it or not, senior people make decisions about your career. Investing in these relationships is likely to have a profound effect on what you’re involved in on a daily basis, and your career path overall. Find out more in my article

Tip: Write down who you need to know internally at a senior level – people who can make your day-to-day work easier and those who have an impact on your career progression.

3 Manage office politics positively

Office politics are largely unavoidable; different people have varying beliefs, assumptions and values. Those who know how to navigate it positively are more likely to progress. You can read more in my guide to office politics

Tip: Ask a (very trusted) colleague what they think your motivations are, for example why you come to work, how you regard and treat your colleagues, and how ambitious you are. Do their answers match how you think you come across?

4 Build relationships with clients and prospects

Particularly in a service business, the way that you deal with clients and prospective clients can set you apart from your competitors. 

Tip: What do you think your clients particularly value about working with you beyond your ability to deliver the service that they require, to the standard that they require? How do you make them feel? Think about their body language and how they reacted to you the last time that you engaged with them.

5 Move on from negative feedback

Being able to hear negative feedback, discern how you need to react to it and move forward is key to progress in your career.

Tip: Reflect on any negative feedback you have received that still has an impact on how you interact at work. Jot down what it was and the impact it’s still having on you.

6 Consider meeting effectiveness

You probably spend a lot of time attending meetings where you need to be able to contribute information effectively and influence others. Without the ability to manage and participate in them well, the impact you have is dramatically reduced, which affects your career.

Tip: Consider what you find challenging about running and participating in meetings. Note these down, along with any behaviours you notice yourself repeating that might be less than positive. Consider what you might replace those behaviours with.

7 Manage a team effectively

With increased seniority, it’s likely that you will need to manage people. This requires some skill development to make sure that your team is an asset, not a burden, and contributes well to the business.

Tip: You are a role model for your team, so are you present enough? And when you are present, what are you actually role modelling for them? Note down your thoughts.

8 Network to get results

Having a solid network is essential if you have business development responsibilities or will have them in the future, and from a personal career perspective, too. Too few think about their network before they really need it. Read my guide to networking at events

Tip: Consider whether you have networking objectives and an effective strategy.

9 Prepare to get your next role

Not being prepared is likely to put you off going for great opportunities due to the preparation work involved. This presents the danger that you will get stuck in a role for longer than is sensible for your situation. Learn more about getting a new role.

Tip: Do your CV and LinkedIn profile accurately reflect who you are, your experience to date and your career aspirations? Make any necessary changes or updates to your CV and LinkedIn profile now and keep them up to date.

Box one

So, what do you need to work on the most?

In the webinar I led for ICAEW, these were the skills that individuals felt they needed to focus on. Which one is it for you? Take the time to address your most pressing skill now

– it will pay dividends for you and your career.

If you’d like to discuss your career or the development of the people you manage, contact joanna.gaudoin@insideoutimage.co.uk

About the author

Joanna Gaudoin, Managing Director, Inside Out Image (insideoutimage.co.uk).

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