Welcome…here’s your decoder ring.


photo by Tatton Partington

In the About section, I throw around a whole passel of ambiguous buzz words…

resilience, initiative, problem-solving, attention to detail, flexibility, inclusive communication, effective collaboration, and pro-active self-management

I know you’ve heard managers, executives and head-hunters use them…and I’m pretty sure you tuned out, assuming they were intangible and unmeasurable descriptors that no one actually screens for. Most don’t – but they SHOULD, because these are just a few of the Indispensable Skills that make the difference between an average employee and a stellar one.

So how about a primer on these attributes? Let’s think of this first post as a decoder ring for overused exec-speak lingo.

resilience “it’s just a flesh wound!”

Much like our friend, the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there are days you are up against insurmountable odds. With resilience, you pick yourself back up and figure out how to change that situation the next time it rears it’s ugly head. It’s not losing, it’s learning – and you don’t get bitter, you get smarter. You focus on the only thing you can always control – you.

initiative “do or do not…there is no try.”

There are people who are punch a clock, and there are people who are make a difference. Showing initiative is about seeing a problem, thinking about it, and doing something to change it. The change you make can be as small as changing a personal behavior, or as large as spearheading a huge movement. Your active, rather than passive, approach to things earns you respect and puts you on a path to constant self-improvement.

problem-solving “people who believe a problem can be solved tend to get busy solving it.”

There is the plan, and there is what you do once the plan goes to Hell. An aptitude for problem-solving means you take the time to understand the goal, and then navigate the obstacles to find the workable solution. When faced with challenges, you don’t expect someone to hand you answers. You immediately reach into your arsenal of skills – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, industry knowledge – to plot a new path through the rubble.

attention to detail “it’s the little things that kill.”

Professional reputations hinge on a perception of competency, and nothing sinks that ship faster than inattentiveness. Your attention to detail builds trust. You pay attention to deadlines and project parameters. You deliver quality work with few or no mistakes. You ask questions that show you are engaged, and you take the time to understand what Good looks like.

flexibility “what doesn’t bend breaks.”

There is a point at which you cannot be successful in the task assigned to you. Know where that line is and what defines it. Flexibility is about adjusting to changing parameters WITHOUT crossing the line into jeopardizing yourself and your project’s success. You show a willingness to accommodate those changing needs, while clearly communicating the risks and consequences.

inclusive communication “be more interested than interesting.”

Many people communicate via the “bullhorn” method – broadcasting their status or needs, and hiding within their limited perspective. When you cross the threshold into good communication, the data you get back is as important, if not more important, than what you send. You take action to prepare – ensuring that when you communicate, it’s well-oranganized and accessible to others. When others communicate in response, you keep an open mind – an active curiosity – to gain new information and adjust your thinking based on a shared understanding.

effective collaboration “the secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other.”

Effective collaboration is a tool of equals. It’s what happens when talented people employ good communication to solve a problem bigger than their individual skills can accomplish. By leveraging many of those indispensable skills properly, you make it effortless to come into a new group dynamic, earn trust, and contribute meaningfully to collaborative projects. You not only carry your weight, but you seek to broaden others’ understanding of your suggestions.

pro-active self-management “to be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”

Simply put: you take care of your business. You understand your deadlines. You are timely and responsive. You come prepared. No one wants to babysit you – and if you can’t take care of yourself, how can anyone trust you to take care of their business needs?

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Gus Prestera February 14, 2013, 5:15 pm

    Great job on the site, Goddess! Welcome to the blogosphere. Mary Kate and I enjoyed reading your first post. MK writes: “Your awesome! And you rock!”

  • Belen Bilgic Schneider February 15, 2013, 11:48 am

    Thanks Gus and Mary Kate! I’m excited to be FINALLY taking on the challenge of blogging.

  • Joshua Menas February 18, 2013, 6:00 pm

    Excellent first post! While I was reading this, I was trying to determine which of these indispensable skills I possessed and which skills require more effort for me… a little self-awareness happening here. I can see myself coming back to this article periodically to reassess myself. I’m looking forward to the next post.

    • Belen Bilgic Schneider February 19, 2013, 9:47 am

      I’m so glad to hear it, Josh! Can you think of other qualities that you have admired or thought qualified as “indispensable skills” in your professional experience? What, in your opinion, makes someone a favorite collaboration partner?

      • Joshua Menas February 20, 2013, 7:21 am

        Is “Efficiency” a skill? Maybe that’s covered by the other skills you listed like “Pro-Active Self Management”, but I know that doing high quality work in the most efficient manner possible is important in certain fast-paced design related professions.

        I think confidence is important as a collaborator. You need to know the topic you’re discussing. You can be tough and hold your ground during team discussions, but you need to do it in an inclusive way (Inclusive Communication). You can disagree with other team members, but make sure you do it in a constructive way with a plan of action to back up your point of view. Also, knowing when you don’t know something is important and trusting others in those situations will make you a favorite collaboration partner.

        • Belen Bilgic Schneider February 22, 2013, 2:32 pm

          I’d definitely call efficiency a skill, and I completely agree.

          I think your point on confidence in collaboration is a huge one – that perfect balance you describe of open-mindedness and confidence is essential to creating amazing work together.

          Thanks for your thoughts on this, Josh!


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