Is it time to take your professional life to the next level? Read this first…

Modern work-life is not about stagnating for years on end. You want to develop your skill-set and grow. Not only will this goal help you to climb the career ladder - one giant step at a time - but it also offers a sense of personal achievement and pride. It's a win-win scenario.

Ready to upgrade your skill-set and get ahead? Luckily, you've come to the right place. The first step is pinpointing the talents you can hone. In this guide, we take a look at the key areas of development in the workplace and how you can strengthen each of them. 

Important areas of development at work

Before you can boost your skills, you'll want to know what the main areas of development at work are. With that in mind, here are 12 skills you can look at: 

1. Teamwork 

Teamwork, or collaboration if you want to be fancy about it, is vital to the success of any business. When you're working with other professionals, you need to cultivate this skill so that everything goes swimmingly. That means ensuring that you understand others' goals, using clear and direct communication, and - of course - supporting one another. 

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Attend team-building training schemes or away days 

  • Work on your communication and listening styles 

  • Take the time to understand your co-workers' roles 

  • Encourage feedback from your team and take it on board

2. Goal setting 

Where do you see yourself in five, 10, or even 15 years? If you don't have a solid answer for these questions, you might be missing a trick. Goal-setting is a muscle and you need to flex it now and then. If you're looking for a way to develop professionally, this is a major area of development. While you may already have regular meetings with your line-manager, it's worth considering how you can set personal goals and stick to them in the long-term. 

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Start with a career vision board and determine where you want to be

  • Create a long-term-goal plan and split it up by the year 

  • Break down each goal into smaller, more manageable steps

  • Give each of these steps a clearly-defined timeline

  • Bonus: Find an accountability partner to help you stick to the plan

3. Communication 

Clear communication is vital to any business. If you want to work well with your colleagues, you need to have this skill down. It's not merely about getting your point across, you also need to tailor your communication to your audience to make sure that they're on the same page as you. That can be a difficult feat - especially if it doesn't come naturally to you. 

However, taking the time to develop this skill can help you to get ahead. When you want to build strong relationships with the professionals around you, communication is the key. 97% of workers believe that good communication has a positive impact on their task efficiency.

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Understand what communication styles particular individuals prefer 

  • Learn how to use compelling and engaging language in the workplace

  • Avoid doing everything via email - schedule a call or one-on-one conversation 

  • Figure out what your communication style is

4. Organisation 

Organisation can make or break your professional life. Put simply, if you haven't got things together, you'll struggle to stay on top of your workload. Over time, this problem can grow and grow, until it looms over every area of your work day. Don't allow that to happen. Learning how to become more organised can help you to move forward in your job. The first part of this process is learning where you currently are and looking for areas of development.

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Look for ways to strengthen your organisational skills

  • Dedicate 10-20 minutes each morning to planning your day

  • Separate your tasks into “urgent,” “high priority,” and “low priority”

  • Try the time-blocking method to get more things done 

  • Use a journal, online calendar, or whiteboard to plan activities 

5. Conflict resolution 

Conflict in the workplace is rarely pretty. However, it's unlikely that you'll always agree 100% with your coworkers. So, how do you overcome this tremendous hurdle? Honing your conflict resolution skill is the answer. This is one of the most important areas of development for leaders. If you can't overcome disagreements with other professionals, you can't manage them. While this can be a tricky space to navigate, there are some ways that you can do so.

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Attend conflict resolution training - either via your workplace or in your own time

  • When you feel emotional, take a break and come back to the conversation later 

  • When possible, avoid blaming the other person for the situation at hand

  • In disagreements, try to use “I” statements rather than using “you” statements

  • Ask for a mediator to be present when you have difficult discussions 

6. Presentation skills 

Standing up in front of a crowd and presenting may sound like a hellish nightmare. However, this skill happens to be one of the core areas of personal development we should all be working on. The truth is that few of us enjoy it. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, affects approximately 75% of people. It is considered the most common phobia. 

Don't worry if the thought of giving a talk fills you with fear. There are ways that you can get over this problem and improve your presentation skills. Preparing well in advance is one approach that you may take. What's more, the more presentations you give, the easier they will become. If your job includes an element of presenting, it's time to put in the groundwork.

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Volunteer to give presentations within your team or department 

  • Try breathing exercises to calm your nerves before you start 

  • Be sure to prepare and practise your presentation in advance

  • Ask for constructive feedback after each of your presentations

7. Emotional intelligence

Believe it or not, emotional intelligence can help you in all areas of your professional life. Fostering this skill helps you to improve your self-awareness and better relate to your colleagues. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, you need to know what it is.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is “the ability to manage both your own emotions and understand the emotions of people around you.” Learning to do that will transform your workplace relationships and avoid conflict in all areas of your life. 

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Stop, breathe, and think before you react to a certain situation 

  • Try to develop your empathy and see things from others' perspectives

  • Get to better know your strengths and weaknesses 

  • Read more about emotional intelligence and how to improve it

8. Productivity

Do you get enough done during the work day? If the answer is no, you need to improve your productivity levels. This is one of the major areas of development examples as it affects the vast majority of us. Should you find that you're falling behind on your work, there are some ways that you can get around that issue. Working on your professional approach is a must. 

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Make lifestyle changes to boost your workplace productivity 

  • Time each of the tasks and activities you complete in the day 

  • Use the Pomodoro Technique to get into the flow of work 

  • Try to eliminate distractions, such as social media

9. Decision making 

If you can't decide between tuna mayo and chicken salad for lunch, this one's for you. Climbing the professional ladder means knowing how to make decisions quickly and effectively. While we all get hit with a case of decision paralysis from time to time, you need a method that allows you to decide what to do and feel confident in that choice.  

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Be clear on your goals and how each decision impacts them

  • Gather the relevant evidence or information beforehand

  • Avoid listening to too many opinions as this may muddy the waters

  • If in doubt, write a clear pros and cons list to help you out

10. Reflective listening 

Reflective listening means hearing someone out, understanding the information, and repeating it to them in other words. This unique communication approach allows you to ensure that you and your coworkers are on the same page. If you ever feel as though your wires are getting crossed, you can avoid that situation by using this technique. 

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Don't speak when someone is talking - hear them out first 

  • Consider what they're trying to say in simple terms

  • Repeat what you think they mean back to them clearly and concisely 

  • Be open to hearing about any misunderstandings that you have

11. Leadership 

Want to be the leader of the pack? Before you can do that, you need to ensure that you have top-notch leadership skills. These include the ability to communicate, demonstrate, listen well, and understand your coworkers. It's a tall order. With that in mind, it's no wonder that this is one of the most important areas of professional development for workers today. 

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Work on your communication and collaboration skills 

  • Take real accountability for your actions and the impact that they have

  • Play to your strengths and delegate tasks that you're not suited to

12. Accepting feedback 

While we've covered some of the essential areas of development at work, there's one that you don't want to ignore. Taking on feedback and using it to your advantage could be the most important skill you'll ever learn. If you're looking for a way to progress, the criticism you gain from those around you could be your secret weapon (so long as you use it well!). 

Examples of how to improve this skill: 

  • Avoid taking feedback personally - see it as a chance to learn

  • Look for training opportunities to strengthen your weaknesses

  • Set goals based on the feedback and revisit the issue at a set date

What skills do you need to improve on?

Now that we've covered the core areas of development, there's one question you should be asking yourself. What skills do you need to improve on? Taking the time to consider the areas in which you're lacking is a savvy move. It may be worth evaluating your current standing and looking for any gaps that you need to fill to level-up your competencies. 

Identifying the areas of development that apply to you is the first hurdle. Use that information to set out clear learning and development goals. That may mean taking an online course, asking for more responsibility in the workplace, or looking at schemes your company offers. Whichever path you choose, deciding to invest in your professional life will always pay off. 

The takeaway 

Whatever field you're in, it's wise to look out for areas of development. As professionals, we should always be searching for ways that we can grow and learn new things. In this guide, we've covered some of the talents that you may choose to strengthen. Consider how you can begin to hone each of these skills and open up more doors for yourself. 

Now that you know how to level-up your skills, let's talk about the next steps. Finding your dream job starts with having the perfect application package. Make sure your CV is up to scratch now by using our free CV review service. Land more interviews than ever and secure your next job in no time at all. Get started now!

Recommended reading: 

Related Articles: