PEOPLE AT WORK COLUMN: What It Takes To Succeed At Work

DO you have what it takes to succeed at work? If it takes you a while before you can honestly say yes to this question, then, it’s time to take stock of “it.” In the world of work, “it” refers to the competencies needed to succeed in the workplace.

These competencies are not the same set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, habits and values that have served previous generations well in their search for career success. According to Ernie Cecilia, president of EC Business Solutions and Career Center, the world of work is now characterized by:

• Wider use of technology

• Flatter organizational structures, i.e., lesser organizational layers of people, bosses have wider span of control or more people report to one boss

• Prevalent use of team structures rather than permanent groups – The traditional “boxes” in your organizational chart anchored by reporting lines up have been replaced by floating amoeba-like “cells” of people or teams that report to any and all who need to know about the project

• Faster-paced timelines – The strategic in strategic planning process has shorted to a five-year time frame. In fact, your business assumptions can turn turtle in a span of one year. Scenario planning is the key to planning in a fast-lane world

• Growing use of the information highway which includes Intranets and the Internet – Virtual offices have mushroomed doing away with the physical limits of a real office and aggravations of actual highway traffic.

• More customer-driven products and services to address the needs of customers who are becoming more demanding and discriminating. Courses now abound that teach how to serve “crabby customers” and even “customers from hell.”

• Global standards, if not global markets – Excellence and world-class are now synonymous

• Rapid and numerous changes – The term “rapidly-changing” world has become a cliche.

In this situation, he identified a new set of competencies needed to succeed in the new world of work. The first of these competencies is learning skills. Definitely, when one is faced with change, you can only adapt if you are able to learn quickly and thoroughly those things needed in the new order. Then, one has to have the ability to get things done right, and not just on time, but faster. In the new world of work, “fast” is the operative word.

Emotional intelligence skills has also gained importance, paradoxically, in a world “depersonalized” by technology. While email and the Internal has decreased face-to-face transactions, it has widened the scope of human relations on a global basis making social skills a necessity.

One also needs to have the ability to see the forest and the trees. Successful executives have found out that the higher one goes up the corporate tower, the more vital it is not only to have vision but to have micro-vision. Nothing beats a hands-on executive or one who manages by walking around or pacing the shop floor.

Undoubtedly, flexibility, adaptability and ability to thrive on change are competencies that are needed for survival. As the chameleon changes its skin to blend with the environment, so must the career person to the workplace while maintaining the integrity of his inner self.

With these challenges in the workplace, coupled with the challenges we working moms face as parents and wives, the world is as tough as frozen meat. So we can chew it and savor it, we need to develop the “teeth” or competencies sharpened by continuous learning and practice. Only by sharpening our cutting edge can we have what it takes to succeed at work and in life.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Published in Metro Working Mom April 2003.

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Founding Editor, People at Work, Business, Phiippine Daily Inquirer

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