No matter how good you are at your job, there will always be room to learn more and improve the way you do things. These opportunities for professional development are also crucial for career growth. While no two jobs are the same, there are some key areas of improvement at work that will apply to several jobs.
If you have one or more of the following questions on your mind, then this blog is for you:
What are the things I can improve on at work?
What are the ways to improve work performance?
How can I improve myself professionally?
What is the importance of professional development?
According to a 2021 report by LinkedIn Learning, 94% of employees across multiple sectors in the United States said that they would continue working with organizations that invest in training and professional development for their employees.
Professional development is not just important for an organization that’s looking to retain talent for the long haul, it’s also essential for employees. By focusing on your critical professional skills and improving them, you can excel in your career and feel satisfied with your job. Investing in your professional growth also allows you to climb up the corporate ladder and take on more leadership roles within and outside your organization.
16 Key areas of improvement at work for employees
Most organizations have certain performance evaluation metrics in place that allow managers to assess the performance of their team members. However, as an employee, you can focus on the following areas of improvement on your own to enjoy career growth opportunities.
They say that teamwork makes the dream work. Teams that work together grow together, and they are more receptive to change. Being a part of a team allows you to brainstorm solutions to day-to-day issues at work, collaborate on complex assignments, and discover new ways to improve the way things are done within your department and organization. Almost every organization out there is on the lookout for team players.
Tips for improvement: To improve your ability to work as part of a team, you can work on your communication skills. Be polite and professional when talking to your team members. Praise them on a job well done and recognize their achievements. If you notice someone is not doing their job well, you can offer assistance with tasks. Whether you’re at an office or working from home, consider having in-person or virtual meetups and conversations.
2. Customer services
Customer service skills are not just for people who handle phone calls every day. It’s a good skill even for those who don’t interact with customers on a daily basis. For instance, you can think of your fellow colleagues and internal stakeholders as key customers and think about what you can do to improve your communication with them.
Tips for improvement: If one of your team members is known for their stellar customer service skills, it’s best to shadow them, observe how they interact with customers, and take notes. You can also talk to your supervisor and ask them the best way to handle escalations, conflicts, and challenging situations at work. You can also look into some online courses on how to communicate effectively in a workplace setting.
3. Time management
Gone are the days when employees were required to focus on only one task in a day. As the global work culture is evolving, employees are expected to perform a wide variety of activities, some of which have tight deadlines. This is where time management and multitasking skills will come in handy. Good time management can also help make your job less stressful and provide you with more time to work on your passion projects outside of work.
Tips for improvement: While there is no foolproof way to improve your time management skills, there are a couple of things you can try. Start by creating a to-do list or a spreadsheet with a list of tasks that need to be done in a typical workday. Next, prioritize these tasks according to their urgency and deadlines. You can also use time-tracking apps and set digital reminders to stay on top of your deadlines. Keep track of your goals and evaluate your performance every day.
4. Interpersonal communication
Interpersonal skills refer to your ability to interact with others. These skills are crucial for any job, and they play a key role in your career growth. Typically, for most managerial positions, excellent interpersonal skills are a must-have.
Tips for improvement: Just like customer service skills, interpersonal skills can be improved by engaging in frequent interactions at work, observing others, and taking some courses on public speaking and communications. Practice the art of effective listening and have face-to-face conversations with your colleagues as much as possible. Pay attention to body language and nonverbal cues and adjust your communication style accordingly. Finally, practice what you are going to say before you say it.
Well-organized people tend to get more work done in a day without burning themselves out in the process. Organization skills and time management skills go hand-in-hand. The objective of this area of improvement is for you to accomplish more work without missing out on deadlines.
Tips for improvement: Create a schedule each day at work that allows you to list your tasks according to their priorities. If you’re working from home, maintain a clean and well-lit workstation that allows you to maintain focus at work. Create and maintain electronic filing systems for all tasks and projects you’re working on so that you can easily access them whenever needed.
Most jobs require a certain level of writing. Whether you’re writing a memo or preparing a presentation on PowerPoint, you need to hone your writing skills if you want to succeed in your career. Even if you’re not actively employed anywhere, working on your writing skills will allow you to create an effective resume and cover letter for any job you’re applying to.
Tips for improvement: Typically, every organization has certain writing guidelines and rules in place. Make sure to review these guidelines. You can also look into some basic writing courses and use a software tool to edit and proofread your work, such as Grammarly. You can also request your supervisor or a colleague to review some of the communication documents you’ve created and share their feedback with you.
Working on your leadership skills is crucial for your career growth. Having good leadership skills allows you to solve problems and communicate effectively, achieve your goals, and complete tasks and projects by properly delegating your work. Your team members will also benefit from your leadership skills as they can count on you to help them achieve their goals.
Tips for improvement: One of the best ways to improve your leadership skills is to observe someone with these skills at your work. Look at how they interact with others and manage their workload and team members. You can also improve your leadership skills by taking on leadership roles outside of work, such as spearheading fundraising activities for a nonprofit.
8. Problem solving
Problem-solving skills allow you to identify issues and bottlenecks at work, brainstorm a series of solutions for each problem, and choose the best course of action. This skill can also help you successfully resolve conflicts at work and devise win-win strategies for everyone. By improving your problem-solving skills, you can also think long-term and suggest improvements that could allow your organization to streamline its operations and improve its bottom line.
Tips for improvement: Look at your coworkers and supervisors and see how they solve problems at work. Next, evaluate the problem at hand and think about how you would’ve handled the situation differently. Take notes for next time. Also, the golden rule to effective problem-solving is to remain calm, focus on the situation at hand, and think about a solution instead of engaging in blame games.
9. Conflict resolution
For any organization to thrive, there needs to be a positive working environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking. As an employee, you can play your part in creating that environment by developing robust conflict-resolution skills.
Tips for improvement: If you’re in a conflict, it’s best to stay calm and keep your emotions in control. Clear and effective communication is one of the best ways to resolve conflicts. Discuss issues face-to-face instead of typing out long emails or messages. Listen to the other individual’s side of the story with an open mind and try to be as objective and impartial as you can. Once you have identified the root cause of the situation, identify ways to fix this issue. If the conflict persists, talk to your supervisor and determine the best course of action.
10. Goal setting
Just like your employer has certain goals for you to achieve, you should have some goals that you want to achieve with the organization. Goal setting helps you stay productive at work and deliver your best performance. As long as your goals are realistic, they tend to motivate you. It’s worth noting that some goals can be short-term (for example, achieving the next quarter’s sales targets), while others can be long-term (for example, getting promoted to a senior position).
Tips for improvement: Start by creating SMART goals, and then set a timeline for the completion of each goal. In case you don’t achieve a particular goal within a specified timeframe, evaluate the reasons why that happened. Communicate your goals with your team members and supervisors and discover ways in which how you can collaborate to achieve those goals.
To be successful in the workplace, you need to learn to advocate for yourself. This not only means communicating with your team members on all pertinent matters, but it also includes setting reasonable expectations for yourself and others.
Tips for improvement: If you encounter any roadblocks when achieving a goal or managing a task, make sure to communicate with your supervisor. Also, talk about any resources or tools you will require to achieve that goal. If you’re managing an extremely difficult task and you determine it’s not possible to complete this task without additional resources, talk to your supervisor.
12. Critical thinking
Think about your key internal and external stakeholders - customers, team members, senior management, and others. What are their needs? What do they expect from your department and organization? What can you do better to help them achieve their goals and meet their expectations? Critical thinking allows you to come up with ideas on process improvement and optimization and solving complex issues.
Tips for improvement: Critical thinking is achieved through communication. Talk to different people within and outside your organization and assess their pain points. Then, think about what can be done to address those pain points.
In today’s world, empathy is one of the most in-demand skills across multiple organizations. If you’re working in sales or any other customer-facing department, you need to be empathetic toward the needs of your customers, understand their problems, and talk about how your company can solve their problems.
Tips for improvement: Listen to your colleagues, supervisors, and customers carefully. Try to be as objective as you can. Place yourself in their shoes and think about what can be done to improve things for them.
Determination is the ability to commit to a goal and see it through, despite the odds. Being determined goes a long way in improving your morale and keeping you motivated at work. It also encourages your colleagues and team members to deliver their best.
Tips for improvement: Whenever you’re facing a challenging situation at work, take a moment to analyze the situation objectively. Stay calm and try to find a solution to the problem. Encourage your colleagues to weigh in on the situation and suggest solutions. Try to maintain a positive attitude.
The key to building a strong team and creating a positive environment at work is to be honest with everyone. By being honest, you also get to develop a positive reputation among your colleagues, and this will surely be noticed by the senior management when they’re considering you for a promotion.
Tips for improvement: To build integrity at work, make it a point to keep your word. If you promise to look into or finish a task, make sure to tend to that task. Be transparent in your words and actions. If you make a mistake, own up to that mistake and take responsibility.
16. Technical competency
Continuous professional development also includes learning new skills and software solutions that will allow you to perform your daily tasks more efficiently. For example, if you’re a project manager and you’ve come across an advanced project management tool that can benefit your organization, you may want to book a demo and check out the new software solution.
Tips for improvement: Identify the different types of software solutions you are currently using at your job and look for better alternatives. Take a short course in Microsoft Office as it is one of the most widely used tools in the world.
One of the best ways to enjoy career growth is to invest in professional development. This means identifying key job-related skills and improving on them.
Some of the most crucial areas of improvement at work include communication skills, leadership capabilities, team-building skills, and conflict-resolution skills.
By setting realistic improvement goals and expectations, you can stay on track with your skill-building plan and obtain the desired results.