A Jack of All Trades: The Importance of Being Well
-Rounded in the WorkplaceA JACK OF ALL TRADES:
The Importance of Being Well-Rounded in the Workplace
Submitted to Robert P. Campbell by
Deron R. Dantzler
in partial fulfillment of CARD410.
June 19, 2005
There are literally hundreds of desirable traits in the workplace. Of these, one of the arguably most important is to be well-rounded in the workplace. Many skills can assist an individual in being a well-rounded employee. Oral communication skills, written communication skills, teamwork, technical skills, leadership skills, adaptation skills, computer skills, interpersonal skills and analytic abilities are some of the key factors to a well-rounded employee. While these skills all seem to be of equal ability to the well-rounded employee, the scope of this paper will only delve into a few of the skills preceding. Technical skills, oral communication skills and leadership skills will all be detailed in this review in an attempt to help you (the reader) become a well-rounded employee.
Technical Skills in the Workplace
Technical skills are the formal name for the knowledge to perform the task at hand. One acquires technical skills by training in formal school systems or in the work environment. Experience is probably one of the most important factors in growing your technical skill in a subject. The importance of technical skills in the workplace is undeniable. Without the knowledge of the subject at hand, there is virtually no way possible to be a well-rounded person. Without technical skills you are not likely to be able to even do the job at hand.
Heres a brief story for example about an individual in the workplace, and how his lack of technical skills hindered his ability to be well rounded in the workplace, and eventually cost him his job. John was a college graduate with a degree in Computer Science. He had completed his degree with a GPA of 3.5. He began his search for a job immediately following his graduation and landed a great job in the technology field based on his merit and because of his professionalism and great communication skills. However, John had very little practical knowledge that is used in the IT field. He had no past experience beyond his degree, no industry level certifications. While his education had trained him in many different facets of computer technology, he lacked the one driving technical skill to help him determine where he would be best suited. It turns out the job that he landed was in computer networking, and when his initial review came up in 3 months, the company decided that they were going to let him go because of his lack of technical skills and because they wanted someone more experienced who actually knew how to do the job. Because of Johns failure to be a well-rounded employee, and failure to have technical skills, he lost his job.
But the big question is: What does John do now? How can he obtain the technical skills that he lacked before so that he will be able to keep his next job? John was mislead into believing that his degree would provide him with all of the information that he needed in order to compete in the workplace. One of the options that he should have heavily considered in college is internships. Now he decides that he will take some certification level courses to help get him on track. He uses these courses to build his confidence level and his technical skill set. He excels in his next job because his great oral communication skills are a wonderful supplement to his technical knowledge.
Oral Communication Skills
For obvious reasons, technical skills are important in the workplace. Likewise, oral communication skills are a no-brainer in the workplace as well as in our personal lives. The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a survey of hundreds of employers to determine the skills they desire in potential employees. The result showed overwhelmingly that oral communication skills were the most important to the sample set (http://ustudies.semo.edu/oralcom/importance_oc_skills.htm).
Based on this information and common sense, one can easily see the importance of oral communication skills in the workplace. It is vital than individuals be able to express themselves and understand others to be successful in the work environment.
There are several oral communication skills that are the keys to positive communication.
Positive attitude and a genuine regard for others
Openness and willingness to share about oneself
Sense of humor
Interpretation (Getting the right message)
There are oodles of books on the subject of oral communication. Many of these books will help a reader understand how to build oral communication skills. One of the major issues is not shying away from speaking opportunities and actually practicing and taking time to build on your communication skills. Great oral communication skills start on the inside. You need to have great self-esteem and a great sense of self in order to be an effective oral communicator.
Often people lacking in oral communication skills are not only not well-rounded in the workplace, they also have a hard time getting a position in the workforce. This is especially the case in which customer service and customer relations are involved. This shows with obvious reasons the importance of begin a great oral communicator.
Lets take a look at Frank in our second example. Frank had worked at an organization for nearly 2 years. He was known as being somewhat shy and reserved. He has otherwise performed very well on the job. He is great at the technical job that he performs. Recently, a vice president of the company came to the local office to discuss the budget situation in Franks department. Frank stumbled and fumbled when he was having the discussion with the VP, and made himself and the entire department look bad because of his inability to effectively communicate what was going on in the department. It turns out that the VP was visiting to determine which departments could be eliminated since the company was going through budget cuts. While Franks department was actually a great asset to the organization, it was chosen for elimination primarily because of Franks failure in the oral communication realm.
As the last topic to help our reader become a well-rounded employee, leadership skills are essential. Being able to lead is essential for more than just being well-rounded. Leadership roles typically provide higher compensation and are typically management positions or plateaus in the workplace. Being a leader is important because it provides the individual with a sense of self-accomplishment. In general, leaders help direct the organization in the path that the organization needs to go. Leadership skills like all other skills reviewed in this paper need to be practiced and developed. There are many courses and course study programs to assist one in becoming a great leader. Once again, similar to communication skills, often leaders are born. Leadership skills are character traits that people can be born with.
One of the best ways to improve your leadership skills is by simply putting yourself in the position to be a leader. When a team project or role is offered, it is important that you put yourself in the best position to accept the role and give yourself the opportunity to lead. If you shy away, you will not have the opportunity to learn and improve your leadership skills.
Many books are also written on the topic to help one excel as a leader. For now, lets look at an example of how leadership skills can be used to help an individual be successful in the workplace.
Susan, a friend of mine was provided with the opportunity to take a role in a team leadership position because of her great oral communication skills and her technical knowledge of the task at hand. When given the opportunity, she rose to the occasion and took the leadership spot. Using her communication skills to help organize the team and help the team reach micro goals, the team eventually completed the project in due course and Susan was placed in a management position because of the excellence with which she lead the team to success.
In the example above we can clearly see the benefits of being a great leader in the workplace as well as the benefits of balancing the three skills that we have detailed.
In conclusion, you should have garnered a few important bits of information here. You should realize the importance of having the technical skills in the workplace, having great oral communication skills, and having great leadership skills. However, remember that there are also many other important traits in the workplace. Weve talked about some of the others in the introduction.
The most important piece of information that you should learn is that success is driven not by just being the greatest in one of these skills, yet a pleasant balance of all are what will help you get there. Examples of this were shown earlier. Frank had great technical skills that had helped him excel in the workplace. However, he lost his job because of his inability to effectively use oral communication to convey this message to upper management. Sarah was able to gain a promotion by showing a pleasant balance of all three traits that were discussed today.
The most important message that I hope that you gather from reading this today is without a doubt be the importance of being a jack of all trades in the workplace. In todays competitive business world, the importance of balancing these and other positive work skills is greater now than ever before.