by Connie Felder, Deputy Director
More and more research shows that workers who fail to keep their jobs over time or move up the career ladder are more likely to demonstrate a lack of personal effectiveness rather than a lack of technical or job specific competencies. High turner costs companies big bucks. With evidence of a shrinking labor pool in part due to the start of baby-boomer retirements, human resource managers are finding it harder to find candidates with preferred job specific experience and skills so they are looking for trainable employees. As a result, interviewers are increasingly focused on prescreening candidates for personal qualities and competencies – employees who will fit in and be worth the training investment. You can be sure if an interviewer is using behavioral interview techniques, asking you to give examples of how you have responded in particular situations, they are trying to determine your personal effectiveness on the job.
If you want to improve your personal effectiveness skills seek out any and all opportunities to become a better person and improve your ability to really connect with others. The reality is that personal growth often results from one’s mistakes and involves emotional pain. Turn a relationship or co-worker conflict, a job loss, or being turned down for a promotion into an opportunity to improve your personal response to life challenges. Seek guidance and feedback through career coaching, a mentoring relationship, counseling services, or personal development workshops to help you to reflect upon and assess your behavior in these difficult situations. What was within your control to change? How can you apply what you have learned quickly to improve your personal success? Then practice what you have learned. You will be rewarded both personally and professionally.
Focus on improving these personal qualities to be more effective at work and in life:
1) Willingness and Ability to Learn – Show an openness, if not an eagerness, to learn and embrace change, new technologies and processes and develop competencies that cross-over jobs and disciplines. The broader your skills and experiences, the more valuable you will become.
2) Interpersonal Communication Skills – Demonstrate excellent listening, reflective and non-verbal competencies which result in respectful, empathic, and professional one-to-one relationships with co-workers, supervisors, and customers.
3) Teamwork and Collaboration – Display the ability to work cooperatively with diverse groups and capitalize on the complimentary strengths of others to achieve superior outcomes.
4) Integrity – Exhibit a personal code of ethics and sound moral values including honesty, commitment, hard work. Be true to yourself and your personal value system. Know that you must find a way to reconcile your work and personal value systems to be truly successful and self-fulfilled.
5) Dependability and Initiative – Express self-motivation and the ability to manage time. Show you know how to manage projects (indeed, yourself) by understanding and establishing priorities, timelines, and organizing your time effectively. Go above and beyond to get the job done when necessary.
6) Problem-Solving and Decision-Making – Demonstrate the ability to gather information, analyze a situation and find answers when the solution is not obvious. Good critical thinking skills and the ability to objectively assess a problem situation and develop solutions with people in mind is an increasingly important competency when it comes to any and all jobs.
7) Creativity and Innovation – Reveal a desire to look at problems from different perspectives to improve results and than don’t be afraid to take risks by suggesting change. Remember the best ideas often come from those doing the job every day. Take advantage of any opportunities that remove yourself from the daily routine and allow you to experience work or your world in a new and different way.
8) Personal Leadership – Have a plan or some general career goals and make it a point to assess your progress at least once a year (e.g., at performance review time or when you experience a job loss.) Remember the saying, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably never get there. Your daily behavior will reflect the nature of these goals or lack of them. Those who have a vision of what they want in life and are realistic about what it will take to achieve their goals lead themselves and others by example.