Research Study: Skills Employees Need To Improve In For Better Performance

This research study examines the skills that employees believe their co-workers could improve in the most.

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Employee performance is one of the most critical factors to business success. As employees move up within an organization, it becomes more and more important for them to possess a variety of skills to be successful. Theses skills range from hard skills (marketing, sales, etc.) to soft skills (problem solving, communication, decision making). To get to the bottom of what skills employees are lacking, we decided to survey 250 employees that work at organizations from startups to corporations. We surveyed both manager and non-managers at these companies, to get a sense of how employees views their peers from a skills perspective.

The below survey results highlights the most common skills that were listed by employees. The employees were able to mark down multiple multiple skills more than once. Below is a graph and list of the top 10 skills that were mentioned the most, and a quick consolidation of the notes that employees provided us when ask for more details around each of the skill sets.

Survey Results

Figure 1. Skills Employees Need To Improve In (According To Their Colleagues)

1. Communication (70% of respondents)

Communication comes in at #1. This isn’t surprising, as an inability to communicate well can create a lot of problems within a team. Communication was listed more as a problem for employees who felt their managers were poor communicators. They list examples like poor communication during performance reviews, inability to communicate new strategic initiatives and lack of communication when it comes to collaborating on specific projects as the biggest issue. Some respondents mentioned that digital communication is a problems — particularly if they have a manage who is based in a different location.

2. People Management (68% of respondents)

People Manager refers to how employees felt their managers are able to relate to their employees. A lot of respondents felt that their managers could improve greatly in this area particularly when brining on new employees, how they speak to their team and their general demeanor towards the people they work with. One example that a respondent mentioned was the lack of appreciation from their manager was a major issue for them.

3. Decision Making (60% of respondents)

Decision making is on the hardest skills to master in the workplace as strategic thought process, experience and decisiveness play a major part of the decision making process. Employees felt their team members made brash decisions on the fly or didn’t factor in the side effects of the decisions they make on the organization. Some respondents mentioned that they felt that their colleagues didn’t think through the decisions that they make causing them to hurt team performance.

4. Team Building (55% of respondents)

One of the critical parts of an organization is their ability to build meaningful connections with their team beyond just their day-to-day work related interactions. Employees felt that in certain instances, their organization and manager wasn’t investing enough time into team building initiatives that can bring everyone together.  One example that a respondent mentioned was the lack of connection she felt with her co-workers because of the lack of team building efforts from management. This skill is a major reflection on team culture, as employees were less likely to put this down if their company had a thriving team culture.

5. Transparency (52% of respondents)

Employees felt the leadership at their organization could be more transparent in how they communicate with their. A lot of colleagues felt that some of their colleagues kept them out of the loop on certain decisions, was dishonest in how they portrayed certain aspects of the company during the hiring process and didn’t provide them clear reasons as to why they underperformed in critical areas. One respondent mentioned the lack of transparency lead her to feel lack of trust towards her company.

6. Process Implementation (50% of respondents)

Employees felt that a lot of their colleagues could improve in having a more processes. They felt that the people they work with were disorganized leading to inefficiency within the company. Those who felt their team lack process described their current organization structure as chaotic. Another respondent felt that they could get more work done if team their team members had a process that they followed every day or week.

7. Resolving Conflicts (47% of respondents)

The ability to resolve conflicts amicably in the workplace was another common repsonse. Conflicts between team members, such as arguing over strategic decisions or personality scuffles, are something employees see as an ongoing issue with their co-workers. Employees felt that a lot of these issues could be avoided, but that a lot of these conflicts had lingering effects over team productivity.

8. Problem Solving (40% of respondents)

Employees felt there a lot of their colleagues could be more effective problem solvers when facing team challenges. Some employees mentioned that they felt that a lot of the issues that they face in the workplace could be solved if their team members took more proactive problem solving approach to their day-to-day responsibilities. One respondent mentioned that they felt their team members either wouldn’t solve the problem they were having on their team or wouldn’t take the right steps to solving problems in quick and efficient manner.

9. Public Speaking (40% of respondents)

A lot of organizations require their employees to speak out in front of others during team meetings. Every role in a company requires some level of presentation skills, and some employees felt that several of their colleagues could be better at presenting their information better. Employees said that some of their colleagues were lacking in clarity in their communication, could be more assertive in how the presented information and more organized in their thoughts.

10. Delegation (35% of respondents)

Employees felt that some of their managers were poor at delegation tasks. This lead to either them being overwhelmed with the amount of work they had or underwhelmed by having too much time on their hands. Several respondents mentioned that they felt that they were sometimes put in position to focus on things outside of their strengths that could be easily re-delegated to someone who was stronger at the job within their team.