7 Skills to Enhance Your Job Performance | HBS Online (2024)

In today's fast-paced work environment, it’s crucial to identify in-demand skills to enhance your job performance and meet employers’ needs.

According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, 89 percent of learning and development professionals agree that building employee skills is vital to the workforce’s future. However, only 26 percent of employees feel their organizations challenge them to learn new skills.

If you want to enhance your job performance, here’s an overview of why it’s essential to your career and the top in-demand skills that can help.

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Why Enhancing Your Job Performance Is Important

Enhancing your job performance is crucial to succeeding in the workplace. It’s a continuous process of improving your skills, obtaining industry knowledge, and developing in-demand competencies.

On an individual level, improving your job performance can lead to professional benefits, including:

  • Career advancement
  • A promotion
  • A raise

It can also have personal advantages. According to the Pew Research Center, employees with more education and training typically report higher job satisfaction.

Your organization can benefit, too. According to Zippia, 68 percent of U.S. employees aren’t engaged at work. Yet, companies with high employee engagement are 21 percent more profitable than their competitors.

Whether you’re an employee or employer, here are seven in-demand skills you should obtain to boost your job performance.

7 In-Demand Skills to Enhance Your Job Performance

1. Communication

Effective communication skills are crucial to improving your job performance and building strong relationships with team members, clients, and customers. In addition to speaking clearly and articulating your ideas, good workplace communication requires actively listening, asking questions, and providing feedback.

BetterUp advises improving how you communicate during:

  • Presentations
  • Meetings
  • Customer conversations
  • Informal interactions

According to the online course Organizational Leadership, you can master communication using the “six C’s”:

7 Skills to Enhance Your Job Performance | HBS Online (1)
  • Compassion: Conveying an empathic understanding of a situation and your audience
  • Clarity: Ensuring your message is clear to someone unfamiliar with a certain situation
  • Conciseness: Guaranteeing your message is no longer than needed and conveys a central point
  • Connection: Building an emotional connection with your audience
  • Conviction: Infusing your communication with a sense of personal investment and commitment
  • Courage: Exuding confidence in the face of uncertainty, risk, or danger

By practicing and taking advantage of speaking opportunities, you can effectively influence people and prepare for a leadership or management role.

Related: 8 Essential Leadership Communication Skills

2. Decision-Making

If you want to earn a promotion, decision-making skills are critical. They can help you make better business decisions, solve complex problems, and delegate tasks effectively.

One of the biggest misconceptions about management skills is that they’re only required for large, impactful decisions.

“The majority of people think about making decisions as an event,” says Harvard Business School Professor Len Schlesinger, who’s featured in the online course Management Essentials. “What we’re really talking about is a process.”

Whether your professional development goals include becoming a manager or an organizational leader, decision-making is a daily reality. Decisions that you’re likely to encounter in any role include:

  • Prioritizing tasks: Deciding which tasks to work on based on their deadlines, importance, and urgency
  • Managing time: Identifying how much time you should spend on tasks to be efficient and productive
  • Collaborating: Understanding how to work effectively with colleagues through delegating work and seeking input
  • Allocating your resources: Managing resources to achieve a project's objectives

By making these decisions, you can demonstrate to management that you’re ready to take on a leadership role.

Related: 8 Steps in the Decision-Making Process

3. Strategic Thinking

Business strategy plays a huge role in company success. If you want to work your way up the corporate ladder, developing your strategic thinking skills can help get you a seat at the table to make important organizational decisions.

“Strategy often sounds like a lofty concept that only the most senior executives can develop,” says HBS Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee in the online course Business Strategy. “But actually, anyone can think and act strategically.”

According to the course, building an effective strategy involves considering how your business can create value for customers, employees, and suppliers.

Strategic thinking can also apply to your organizational contributions. Examine your role and develop an action plan to create value for your business based on your strengths and weaknesses. Then, use your findings to start a dialogue with your manager about how to achieve your professional development goals.

4. Problem-Solving

Improving your job performance also requires problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving—systematically removing barriers that prevent you from reaching your goals—has several professional benefits that help boost your job performance, including:

  • Streamlining processes: Identifying inefficiencies and finding ways to refine processes to increase performance
  • Improving decision-making: Weighing different options to make informed decisions
  • Finding innovative solutions: Coming up with innovative business ideas and solutions to complex problems

If innovation is essential to your company’s culture, focus on developing your creativity as well.

Creative problem-solving—exploring potential solutions, regardless of whether you’ve identified a problem—is valuable for helping your organization stay ahead of the curve. By identifying new opportunities or undetected challenges, you can earn recognition within your organization.

Related: How Innovation Training Can Transform Your Organization

5. Networking

You may be familiar with the sentiment, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s a phrase many struggle to understand.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “I hate networking” is commonly said by executives, professionals, and MBA students. Yet, research shows that professional networks lead to benefits such as an improved capacity to innovate, faster career advancement, and greater status and authority within your organization.

With the right tools, you can grow your professional network and ensure you reap all its possible rewards. One mechanism you can use is a power map, which enables you to visualize who has more or less power to help navigate your work environment’s politics and gain influence.

According to the online course Power and Influence for Positive Impact, you want “central individuals” in your network because they often hold primary sources of information, resources, and industry advice.

6. Analytics

Analytics skills have become increasingly important in today's data-driven world. Through gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data, you can impress high-level leaders and make strategic recommendations.

“Using analytics is a very effective way to have influence in an organization,” says HBS Professor Jan Hammond, who teaches the online course Business Analytics, in a blog article. “If you’re able to go into a meeting and other people have opinions, but you have data to support your arguments and your recommendations, you’re going to be influential.”

Strive to understand how to collect and analyze data using methods such as:

  • Surveys: Physical or digital questionnaires that gather qualitative and quantitative data
  • Interviews and focus groups: Talking to subjects face to face about a specific topic or issue
  • Forms: Using online forms to gather qualitative data about users, specifically their demographic or contact information
  • Social media monitoring: Monitoring your company’s social media channels for follower engagement

These are just some of the methods you can use to better understand how data can help you become an influential employee within your organization.

Related: 7 Questions to Ask for an Insightful User Interview

7. Negotiation

As you focus on your job performance, it’s likely you’ll need to negotiate to ensure your hard work is rewarded. Advancing your career may seem intuitive, but earning a promotion isn’t just about your professional abilities.

Investing time and energy into developing your negotiation skills can help you maximize value in conversations and navigate any resistance from leadership you might face.

Skills to develop include:

  • Emotional intelligence: Understanding and managing your and others’ emotions
  • Value creation: Creating a proposition that benefits you and other parties
  • Reflection: Reflecting on past negotiations and identifying areas for improvement

“Enhancing your negotiation skills has an enormous payoff,” says HBS Professor Michael Wheeler in the online course Negotiation Mastery. “It allows you to reach agreements that might otherwise slip through your fingers.”

Start Enhancing Your Job Performance

Obtaining in-demand business skills is crucial to advancing your career. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, manager, or employee, having a solid grasp of business principles and practices can enable you to enhance your job performance, navigate workplace complexities, and achieve your career goals.

With the rise in online business education, developing those skills is easier than ever. Online courses, such as those HBS Online offers, allow you to balance work and school by learning on your schedule at your own pace.

Do you want to enhance your job performance? Explore our online course catalog—featuring courses on leadership to strategy—and download our free guide on how to advance your career with essential business skills.

7 Skills to Enhance Your Job Performance | HBS Online (2024)


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