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Guide: What Are The Key Work Development Areas for Employees? - HRDQ

Guide: What Are The Key Work Development Areas for Employees?

Continuously investing in your employees to help them develop in several key areas can help your organization thrive and grow. Even though each business will have its own particular skills that employees must master to be successful, some universal skills and traits can help people in any industry reach their full potential.

If you're interested in improving the performance of your team or workforce, there are many essential work development areas where you can focus your efforts.

These include time management, productivity, goal-setting, communication, and more. You'll find that many of these areas are interrelated, with the skills learned in each realm boosting each employee's ability to build new skills in another.

Let's get started!

1. Time Management

Countless perks come along with knowing how to manage time. Everyone can benefit when employees know how to use their time efficiently, as it can maximize working time, help employees and leadership overcome indecisiveness, improve the quality of work that is done, and so much more.

Ultimately, when employees possess time management skills, it can contribute to a good flow in which tasks are accomplished swiftly, efficiently, and in a positive working environment.

Individual employees will start to see the personal benefits of improved time management skills right away when they begin to implement them.

Time Management

They'll find that it helps them:

  • Build a better professional reputation
  • Improve their efficiency and productivity
  • Reduce their stress levels
  • Open up new opportunities in their professional and personal lives
  • Boost their chance of advancing within a company

When workers know how to manage their time, they are more in control. This can make for happier workers that are more confident and more relaxed. Work to encourage your employees to develop time management skills.

You'll also likely find that improved use of time and greater organization with schedules has a noticeable improvement on morale and the company culture.

2. Productivity

To be a successful and effective organization, productive employees are a must. Productivity is a gift that keeps on giving, benefiting the customers, the workers, and the business as a whole.

When the employees at a company are efficiently using their workdays to work towards relevant and important tasks that help reach shared goals, the full capacity of your human resources is being exercised, day in and day out.

Productive Team of Employees

You might think that a call to increase employee productivity sounds like something that only benefits leadership and the company, but employees typically feel a greater sense of purpose and motivation when they are more productive and help a business succeed.

In many instances, workplaces are more effective and happier when employees feel they are making a difference with their work.

3. Goal-Setting

When employees know how to set goals and follow through to reach them, it can help improve their work performance and focus.

Setting Specific Goals

It's common for team projects to have stated milestones and goals, but that doesn't mean that individual employees can't set personal goals to help them achieve a sense of pride and satisfaction in their roles.

4. Communication

In the arena of developing communication skills, employees can work on their oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills. These are important for the best outcomes in a team or client-facing environment.

Employees Effectively Communicating

There are many activities leaders can engage their employees in to help teach and improve communication skills, some of the most effective of which are outlined in this recent post.

A. Written

In terms of written communication, learning how to write professional emails is essential when interfacing with customers and leadership. Clear communication is crucial– when a recipient is unsure of what is being said in an email, for example, it isn't just a waste of time, but explicitly counterproductive.

Writing a Professional Email

It can be a good idea for managers to create a style guide for employees to write work-related memos and emails. This way, they can reference this document anytime they have questions about the best way to structure a message and what information should be included.

B. Oral

When working in a team environment, employee development of oral communication skills can make a big difference in productivity, efficiency, and morale. Workers and leaders alike can focus on learning how to convey a message succinctly and clearly in a way that is understandable to the individuals on their team.

Effective Team Communication

This can mean learning how to speak up in a team meeting and how to offer feedback in a one-on-one meeting with a manager. There are nuanced differences between addressing a group and talking to one or two other individuals, and the whole organization can benefit when employees are highly skilled in oral communication.

C. Interpersonal

In addition to written and oral communication, there is also interpersonal communication. This includes the feelings, information, and meaning that people exchange through non-verbal indicators like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, in addition to the actual spoken words.

A Team Communicating

Employees at all levels can learn more about their everyday communication skills with the help of What's My Communication Style, a twenty-minute assessment tool that can help individuals understand their personal communication style.

5. Listening

Just as important (if not more important) than knowing how to convey a message to other people is listening and receiving messages from others. Workers and leaders can develop their listening skills to better understand and process information.

Employee Actively Listening

There are several different essential listening skills that employees can improve, and managers can work to break down barriers to active listening in the workplace to ensure that communication is fluid and effective.

6. Leadership

Everyone in your organization can benefit from developing leadership skills, not just managers and higher-ups.

Developing Leadership Skills

Many positive outcomes can result from leadership training, including:

  • Increasing employee commitment
  • Enhancing camaraderie
  • Boosting accountability
  • Improved productivity and performance
  • Creating shared goals

There are several different theories of leadership and leadership styles that individuals can benefit from learning about. It isn't that there is one right style of leadership that is most effective or even that each person has one that works best for them.

Experts generally agree that being able to utilize different leadership styles in response to unique situations is the best approach to leadership.

7. Flexibility

Even in the most static of positions, there is always the potential that something unexpected or out of the ordinary will happen. Projects can change as they progress, clients can change their vision, new leaders can be brought in, and personnel can be restructured.

All of these things can impact the day-to-day work employees are doing, and flexibility is critical for overcoming these types of scenarios.

Highly Flexible Employees

Workers are happier and more productive when they are skilled in adapting to changes in the workplace. It also means that they are better able to be more responsive to customers' needs. 

8. Creativity

Creativity is an essential development area for employees at all levels of an organization. Through creative thinking, people can develop innovative solutions to problems that can help an organization thrive.

On top of that, a creative workplace can help to boost productivity, improve morale, and foster a culture of teamwork.

Creativity in the Workplace

Managers can do several things to ensure that the workplace isn't blocking creative thinking, but employees can also deliberately work to develop their creativity.

9. Conflict Resolution

Even in the happiest of workplaces, conflicts are bound to arise. Rather than trying to suppress or sweep them under the rug, the ideal solution is to ensure that employees have adequate conflict resolution skills to help them resolve differences with coworkers and company leadership.

The entire organization benefits when teams know how to handle conflict effectively. Conflict resolution skills include some of the key work development areas we've already touched upon– such as communication and listening skills.

Most people don't like dealing with confrontations, but many positive outcomes can come from deliberately working to resolve conflicts in the workplace.

A Workplace Conflict

These include:

  • Improved morale
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced workplace tension
  • Stronger teams
  • Better cross-team relationships
  • Fewer alienated employees

Of course, managers must be highly skilled in conflict resolution. However, if your team members have developed their conflict resolution skills, you'll find that managers and company leadership are more often able to sit back and let employees resolve their differences of opinions on their own.

10. Organization

Every workplace aspect can be positively impacted when employees and managers have well-developed organizational skills. The principles of organization can be applied to every corner of your business, from the layout of offices and business procedures to schedules and important files.

When people spend a little bit of time every day organizing their space and time, it can tremendously benefit their work and the company as a whole.

Team Tracking Progress

Some of the additional benefits of developing organizational skills include:

  • Making it easier to track progress
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving time management
  • Boosting productivity

Learning organization skills will help employees in many other work development areas, including productivity and time management. On top of that, being organized can help workers in their quest to be adaptable and flexible in the workplace.

11. Customer Service

Cultivating good customer service in your organization can help to ensure that customers and clients are satisfied and become loyal, repeat customers.

Employee Communicating With a Customer

Even if your workers aren't in a role that puts them in constant communication with customers, it is ideal for employees to develop qualities such as friendliness, politeness, promptness, and clear communication. That ensures that they are well-equipped to interface with individuals interacting with your business.

12. Collaboration

No one is an island in an organization, and improving your employees' collaboration and cooperation skills can have a tremendously positive impact on your organization.

Even if many of your workers are engaged in solo work much of the time, it's crucial for all employees to have well-honed communication and teamwork skills.

A Team Collaborating

When your team knows how to collaborate between themselves and with other teams, it can help build camaraderie, nurture diversity, enhance peer learning, and boost innovative and creative possibilities.

13. Giving and Receiving Feedback

As we've already discussed, communication is vital in any workplace. One essential aspect of communication is the ability to accept and give out feedback and constructive criticism.

Employees Giving and Receiving Feedback

It can be hard not to take feedback personally sometimes, but employees can deliberately work to build this skill over time. Similarly, it can be challenging to know how to word constructive criticism handed out to team members or company leadership, but the ability to do so tactfully and productively can provide benefits for the entire organization.

14. Focus and Engagement

There are so many distractions in our modern world, and it's easy for employees to get sidetracked whether they work in-office or remotely. Helping your workers learn how to stay focused can help to improve their morale at work and boost productivity.

Focused and Engaged Employees

Beyond focusing on individual tasks, though, there's also the area of employee engagement. This refers to their overall commitment and investment in their team and company.

According to a Gallup poll, employee engagement is driven by meaningful and purposeful work. That means that you can help to boost employee engagement by helping your workers see the way their day-to-day tasks contribute to the larger goals of the organization.

15. Positive Attitude

While many of the key work development areas on our list have to do with increasing productivity and efficiency in the workplace, there's also something to be said for helping your employees to deliberately cultivate a positive attitude.

Group of Positive Employees

The mental attitude your workers bring to the office each day will have an enormous impact on your business in both the short and long term. While it's important to help your employees understand the benefits of a positive outlook on any given day, it's particularly essential to teach them to maintain this mindset when in the throes of a stressful project or a looming deadline.

Continuing Development For an Effective Workplace

Even if you have a rockstar team at your company right now, the sky's the limit when it comes to learning new skills in the work development areas listed above. Leaders and employees alike can benefit from skill development courses and activities that focus on boosting their ability to be productive, efficient, and goal-oriented in the workplace.

You might decide to come up with a schedule of continuing development opportunities and lessons that suits the needs of your team and organization. For example, maybe you feel that helping your employees learn skills to improve their collaboration and teamwork skills is the best place to start.

On the other hand, you might focus your efforts on customer service skills if you are managing a team of customer representatives.

A Team of Employees

No matter your industry, encouraging and facilitating development in these areas can help both your business and your employees achieve success in the long term.

Do you have any questions about these listed work development areas or how they can improve your workplace? If so, be sure to drop us a comment down below, and we'll get back to you within a couple of days. We always make it a point to reply to every comment we receive, and we'd love to help you out however we can!

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.