Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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Be Excellent. Start Now by Testing Your Skills!

Boost your career skills, starting now!
© iStockphoto/Shenki
On this site, you can learn the essential skills you need to be an exceptional leader, a valued team member, and an outstanding contributor in the workplace.
But, with more than 700 skills available, which ones will make the biggest difference for you?
Find out with this five-minute quiz!

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For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score 'in the wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

at All
1I routinely set realistic goals for myself, and I track my progress until I've reached them.
2When I have to make a decision, I pick the first good solution I find.
3I approach life with confidence, and I have high self esteem.
4When it comes to managing my workload, I know my priorities.
5Team development is an area I admit to cutting back on when time and resources are limited.
6I lose time during the day because I'm not sure what I need to get done.
7When I want to motivate people, I try to use the same approach with each person.
8The work I do on a daily basis reflects my values, and is consistent with the goals I've set for myself.
9I'm able to communicate my needs, and I make sure that my message is heard and understood.
10When I encounter a problem, I immediately begin looking for potential solutions.
11When there's conflict, I use my communication skills to find solutions and work things through.
12I'm aware of the differences between leadership and management.
13When discussing an issue with someone, I try to stay one step ahead in the conversation, and I actively think about what I'm going to say next.
14When I encounter a setback, I have difficulty focusing on the situation positively and objectively.
15I'm motivated to complete all of my work in a timely manner.
Total =

Now, use your scores in the following five areas to decide where to start building your skills. (Tip: Concentrate on the lowest scoring areas!)

Leadership & Management (Questions 5, 7, 12)

Whether you're in a formal leadership position or not, you need good leadership and management skills if you're going to make best use of the opportunities open to you. (After all, you can get much, much more done when you have the help of other people.) The good news is that you can learn how to lead and manage effectively!
Although there is some crossover between leadership and management, they are essentially two different skill sets. Find out what makes a great leader in our article and video that answers the question, "What is Leadership?" Then discover the key skills needed to manage a team in our guide to Team Management Skills.
You'll also find it helpful to take our two self-tests: How Good Are Your Leadership Skills?, and How Good Are Your Management Skills?. Plus, you need to know how to motivate people effectively and build a great team.

Problem Solving & Decision Making (Questions 2, 10, 14)

Problem solving and decision making are two areas where you'll need to excel to be a success in your career. (Together with people skills, they're what make up "good judgment" and "wisdom.") Like leadership and management, these two areas are closely related.
The first step in effective problem solving is identifying and understanding the cause of the problem. Tools such as Root Cause Analysis, the 5 Whys technique, and CATWOE are essential at this stage. There are also other great tools and techniques that you can use, depending on the type of problem you face - our How Good is Your Problem Solving? self-test will test your skills, and help you identify where you can improve.
Once you fully understand your problem, you can choose the best option – that is, make the best decision. However, this is harder than it sounds, so you'll need to arm yourself with a variety of decision making tools.
Start by assessing your skills in our decision making quiz. As part of this, you'll learn about the key stages in the decision making process, including deciding between options (where tools such as Grid Analysis and Paired Comparison Analysis are useful) and deciding whether to go ahead (where you need to use tools such as Impact Analysis, Risk Analysis, and Cost/Benefit Analysis).

Communication Skills (Questions 9, 11, 13)

The ability to communicate clearly is key to your success, whatever role you're in.
If you want to improve your communication skills, start by taking our communication skills quiz. Also, make sure that you know how to plan your communications effectively.
Active listening is another very important communication skill. This is when you focus on the other person, and you make sure that you understand exactly what he or she is trying to say. Conflict resolution and negotiation are other areas that you'll need to work on to be a great communicator.
You can learn a whole lot more about communication in the Communication Skills area of this website.

Time Management (Questions 1, 4, 6, 15)

Time management is one of the most important career skills areas. Not only does it help you to be more productive; you'll also be much less stressed!
To manage your time better, take our How Good is Your Time Management? self test. Also, make sure that you know how to prioritize and schedule your time effectively.
It's also important that you avoid procrastination - this is when you put off tasks and activities that you should be focusing on right now.

Personal Mastery (Questions 1, 3, 8, 14)

When you know how to "lead yourself" and make good choices for your future, you'll be that much further ahead when it comes to the other skills areas that we've already looked at.
Start by setting personal goals, using SMART principles to accomplish these. As part of this exercise, analyze your strengths, and reflect on the values that you hold.
No matter how positive you feel now, it's also important to learn how to deal with negative thinking. From there, you can build your self confidence and self esteem so that you can achieve goals that really matter.
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