The Foundation Skills

The workplace of today is more challenging and demanding than ever before. And one thing you can be certain of is that this trend is here to stay. Jobs are going to keep demanding more everyday in comparison to the previous day.

The way we execute our responsibilities, the technology we use as a tool and the job expectations are always in a state of flux. Expecting to continue in the same position without any additional effort at learning new skills or sharpening existing ones would be unrealistic. Just as a doctor, to save lives, needs to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the world of medicine, every employee in an organization needs to work on improving their abilities, to save his/her job!

Here is a list of the 17 Foundation Skills (grouped into four broad classes) that one must have to not only succeed, but also for mere survival in the job market today:

Basic Skills
  • Reading: This does not mean a mere skimming through of the material at hand. It means, picking out all the details that matter, researching, clarifying doubts etc.
  • Writing: When writing letters or reports, make sure they are a pleasure to read. Avoid irksome spelling and grammatical errors and punctuation lapses. Convey your ideas in a crisp, clear manner. And remember no amount of reviewing and editing is too much.
  • Mathematics: Perfecting this skill will go a long way in proving your sharpness. Practice till you are at ease with all the mathematical mumbo jumbo that exists numbers, fractions, percentages, pie-charts etc. should be a mere piece of cake. Be computer literate when it comes to entering, using or sharing data.
  • Speaking: Remember what your audience hears is not the only important thing when you speak. What they see is also very crucial. Perfect your body language. Make a conscious effort to improve this much-ignored aspect of communication.
  • Listening: Concentrate with all your might when someone is saying something useful. Pay attention to the speaker's tone, body language etc. Whenever appropriate convey that you have understood what he/she said.

Thinking Skills
  • Creative Thinking: Don't ever restrict your imagination. Creativity is one of the most profitable and sought after quality in the job market.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Being very alert has never hurt anyone. Being the first to recognize a problem gives you a head start towards finding a solution. Implement the solution to see whether rework is required.
  • Decision-Making Skills: Be clear about what you are aiming for. Then start finding ways to get there and list them out. Your decision-making skills will be put to test when you have to pick out one of the alternatives in your list.
  • Visualization: This is imagination to the maximum. Given a design of a building, you should be able to paint a clear picture in your mind's eye of what it will look like in reality.

People Skills
  • Social: Be pleasant to all around you however much you dislike them. If there are unpleasant people around try and understand why they are so and help them if you can. Be assertive when you need to.
  • Negotiation: In case of a difference of opinion, list out the common goals, communicate your argument with the facts to support it, try and understand the other party's wishes just as you would want them to understand yours. Compromise.
  • Leadership: You cannot be a leader by forcing people into abiding by your orders. Talk with respect and put your points across without creating dissent. Be competent and honest and people will automatically put their faith in you.
  • Teamwork: Co-operate with the rest of the team and only then can you expect any co-operation from them. Avoid arguments with peaceful discussions and healthy debates. Always think of the big picture the team before self.
  • Cultural Diversity: Do not be narrow-minded when it comes to working with people who come from a different cultural background than your own. Respect them, as you would want to be respected. Help them if they have problems related to culture change.

Personal Qualities
  • Self-Esteem: Look within yourself for qualities that need to be changed like some beliefs you may have been harboring for a long time. Take up a positive attitude and consciously change your outlook.
  • Self-Management: Be your own best critic. Get a realistic view of what abilities you possess and how you can improve those as well as acquire those you don't have. Set realistic goals and work hard towards achieving them. Monitor milestones as and when you get to them.
  • Responsibility: Lack of which you will lose your job before you settle into it. Be almost religious when it comes to finishing the tasks assigned to you. Try and meet the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Display eagerness to shoulder more responsibilities.