FUNDAMENTAL SKILLS FOR PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
Recently I resumed teaching in a university for media students and post-session, a student came to me and asked me which software she needs to learn to be successful in the market. I told her it’s not the application but the skill that matters, skills ensure you are not obsolete with the passage of time. This whole situation provoked a thought that what are the skills that one needs to learn to make sure they are rewarded for not just professionally but as a person too. Following are my opinions as Top 5 skills one must-have. But hey! They are big words and can be used and abused by anyone in every possible way.
Everywhere, people will ask you about your IQ to measure your intelligence. Most organizations do this to ensure that people they hire have higher intelligence hence better results. However, with the passage of time, this theory has been proven incorrect. Emotional Intelligence EI is relatively a new concept people and corporations are getting acquainted with. People with higher emotional intelligence tend to maintain better interpersonal relationships and they fit into a new environment quickly. They are socially aware, self-motivated and have the empathy to understand not just their work better but people around them. Their motivation to grow and ensure they grow with everyone else makes them even better than introvert people with higher IQ’s.
This is one of the most used and abused skill so Oh Boy! I will try to put as much neutral perspective as possible. A lot of people say that creativity is a God gifted skill and not everyone has it. I completely disagree with it because, in my opinion, everyone is born as a creative person, it’s just we stop using that skill with the passage of time. However, with a little bit of practice and you can get that skill back to ensure better results. Now the question comes, “What is Creativity?”. It’s not just thinking and bringing your imagination to reality but a skill that can be used to smartly resolve conflict, problem or hurdle that is blocking your workflow. It can be creative thinking to propose an interesting way of working with your colleagues to upgrade an existing idea by making it simpler to enhance productivity. Creative thinking is a whole new world and if I just have to talk about this then I can go on and about each and everything that is connected to personal and professional life.
As a marketing professional, it is always very crucial to be a creative and critical thinker. Now everyone will say, “Hey! We all think, what’s new?”. For those, the answer is, Yes, we as humans are capable of thinking. But in major cases, our thinking reflects our emotions and biased opinions. Critical thinking helps you understand the problem better and also helps you make a better decision by reviewing the critical aspects of issues, processes, and workflows. To make it understand better, I will quote an example:
A few years back our Client approached us and asked for a creative campaign for the brand’s SKU which was not selling in some pockets of their targeted areas. There were several issues of the image (perceived higher) as well as the price which was causing a disconnect by the consumer. The first thing most of my colleagues thought was to come up with a catchy tagline to help consumers foster the relationship better but in my opinion, the creative campaign was not the game-changing solution. After some research and critical thinking, we recommended our client to introduce a smaller SKU with a reduced price than existing SKU to help build the brand in those pockets. And make a creative campaign on that. The trick worked, their sales increased (sorry can’t share the numbers) and we as creative partners became strategic partners. Yes, it’s a very small case study with something a very seasoned advertiser will do. But it was a big achievement for me considering I was just 3 years old in advertising!
For me, problem-solving and decision making are somewhat similar as you solve a problem by analyzing, critically thinking and then making a final decision. I am sure, a lot of people will disagree with me or will recommend books to read. But why do I think about the similarity? For me, a decision is the end result of problem-solving, it requires a lot of crucial thinking, understanding the problem, its complexity and the aftermath that will come with a certain type of decision made instead. I understand, it’s not easy to please everyone but with the best solution keeping the problem in mind always gives benefits to everyone.
Everything is manageable, but people management is the toughest. As a professional, you have to make sure you listen to everybody. Be it your friends, clients, your juniors that look up to you for grooming or colleagues at the same level or above within your office, people management is the most crucial and also the toughest skill of all. It directly involves all the four skills that I have talked about in this piece. HRM deals with this issue critically but my focus is more towards a professional and their surroundings. Identifying that silver lining, discussing things with different ethnic people and ensuring that you do not offend someone is indeed an art. Not just that, bringing them to the same conclusion also requires this skill. Hence the most crucial one.
These skills are just the fundamental building blocks of one’s professional and personal grooming and there is no order defined in this article too. The idea is to identify core aspects and create awareness about their importance. Also, these skills can be perfected through examples and training and you will find a lot of material online that will help you understand and brush-up these fundamentals to become not just a better professional but as a better person.