To climb the corporate ladder more quickly, you’ll need to improve your specific job skills as well as your general, or transferable, skills. To improve your chances for moving into management, focus on improving skills directly related to your chosen field while you work on general professional skills to develop into a future executive.
Some jobs require specific functional skills that relate to performing the duties of the position. For example, if you start out as a bookkeeper in a small business, you might need basic skills such as using a general ledger, performing monthly bank statement reconciliations, making deposits, generating invoices and updating a balance sheet. To develop your expertise in finance, add accounting skills that help business owners or department heads use financial reports to plan strategy. You might learn how to prepare cash flow statements, create receivables aging reports, develop profit-and-loss statements and create annual budgets.
Applied Management Skills
While many basic management skills are general in nature, you must be able to apply them to specific jobs. One way to develop in your job is to learn how to marry general management skills with position-specific responsibilities. For example, effective communication skills are key for managers. A project manager can improve communication in her work by creating a cloud-based project document for her team. Cloud-based documents are those placed on the Internet that multiple users can securely access from different locations, allowing people to more readily share information. Each time a project member updates a Cloud-based document, the entire team can see the results. Apply time management skills to your job by creating deadlines, pre-deadline benchmarks, procedural guidelines and to-do forms your staff uses to stay on track. Holding weekly team meetings improves communication and time management among teams.
Just because you have a degree in your field doesn’t mean you can’t continue to learn. Adding a certification improves your credentials, which can help you in your job in a variety of ways. To earn a certification, you often must learn some new skills you can use to better perform your job. For example, you might earn certification for a specific type of software; take an internal certification program your company offers, such as becoming a six sigma black belt; or get certified by a professional association, such as earning certified public accountant status. You will instill more confidence in subordinates, superiors, customers and clients if they know you’ve earned certification in your area of specialty. Certification can also improve your network of colleagues who can answer questions and provide advice when you need help with a project you’re working on or another aspect of your job.
In addition to certification programs, take advantage of seminars, workshops, books and additional college courses to improve your job-related skills. For example, if you’re a professional journalist or marketing manager, it’s important to learn how to use social media to disseminate your stories or promote your company’s products. If you’re a graphic designer, learning how to use new software or how to understand upgrades to the software you currently use will help you better perform your job. If you work in a field dominated by men, consider reading a book on male-female dynamics, such as Deborah Tannen’s, “You Just Don’t Understand,” which explains common communication differences between men and women that lead to unnecessary misunderstandings and battles.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.