skills 2x2 We’ve just been through another exercise at work to help us identify our, and our employees’, skills, and how to improve them. There are a mass of these, from What Color is Your Parachute to Do What You Are .  For a quarter century, in both hiring and assessing performance of staff, I’ve used a simpler model that’s evolved over time. It says every job (and perhaps every task in life) requires some combination of four groups of skills:

Creative Skills

  • Ideation: Coming up with new ideas [CI]
  • Representation/Spacial Skills: Capturing, applying and executing these ideas [CR]

Language Skills

  • Written Communication [LW]
  • Oral Communication [LO]
  • Non-Verbal Communication [LN]

Knowledge Processing Skills

  • Synthesis: Distilling and summarizing information [KS]
  • Analysis: Breaking down information [KA]
  • Interpretation: Determining what information means; adding insight [KI]

Interpersonal Skills

  • Sensing: Listening and appreciation [IS]
  • Connecting: Engaging, sympathizing and relating [IC]
  • Persuading [IP]

So how do you use this? You map the skills you have against the skills you need for your job, like I have done in the scatter chart in the upper right. If most of the dots are in the upper right and lower left cells, your skills are well aligned with your job: You’re probably doing well and are happy at work. If most of the dots are in the upper left cell, you’re probably over your head, or at least struggling. Success will depend on how many of the dots you can move over to the right (by honing your skills). If most of the dots are in the lower right cell, you’re probably bored out of your mind. Your skills are not getting exercised, and it’s doubtful you’ll be happy in your current job. Better hope you like the people you work with. When I’ve done this exercise with my staff, I usually find at least five of the eleven dots in this quartile, so I’m not at all surprised that most people are unhappy with their jobs.

You can use this method to assess your affinity for a hobby (like blogging) as well. I tried this myself, and it told me to keep my day job.

I’m currently exploring how this skills model could be applied in some rather unorthodox ways:

  1. Comparing skills of humans with those of animals ( ravens make especially interesting subjects) to assess animal intelligence, which I believe is wildly under-estimated. 
  2. Exploring the relationship between instincts (innate abilities) and skills (acquired abilities), and answering questions about the learning process, and which skills you can learn versus which (I suspect none) are strictly hereditary.
  3. Articulating why ‘survival skills’ are poor substitutes for the instincts that they are designed to replace.
  4. Debunking the myths of, and cult of, leadership in Western society. More about this in a future post.
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2 Responses to LIFE SKILLS

  1. Charly Z says:

    Which were the skills you used to assess your affinity for blogging? Did you use the somewhat abstract skills you mentioned (creative, etc.), or did you come up with a set specific to weblogs?

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Charly: It all depends on the blog, of course. I think the skills most pertinent to Salon blogs are LW, KS, KA and KI (language and info processing skills), and I actually rate myself high on those. But quite a few blogs are very creative, coming up with new ideas and amazing graphics; or they are chatty, drawing on the interpersonal skills.

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