Seven Desirable Workplace Competencies

27 March, 2020
Workplace competencies are crucial for finding a good job and being successful at the work you do.

Every individual will do their job a bit differently, but there are certainly some common skills that enrich the working environment. So what are the most desirable workplace competencies?

Workplace competencies are the set of abilities, attitudes, and skills that define an organization. They contribute to the well-being of the organization and they coincide with its mission and values. Depending on the organization in question and the type of employee they’re looking for, they’ll prioritize different competencies.

That being said, there’s a set of competencies that most employers find desirable. In this article, we’ll share seven that companies and organizations find the most appealing and useful.

1. Teamwork

Being able to work in a team is one of the most important workplace competencies. A desirable employee should be skilled at collaborating and cooperating with others, as well as establishing a good work environment.

If you want to show your boss that you have this competency, you should think about your team or workgroup and make sure your actions are in line with the corporate values. It’s important to demonstrate that you’re open to working with other members of the organization.

While this ability seems easy to develop, it’s actually quite complex. That’s because any given team or workgroup will have a wide variety of opinions and working styles. Some people feel that delegating or sharing responsibilities will mean that the work won’t get done. They tend to be individualists who have a hard time trusting others.

You can develop and improve this competency by keeping in mind that you aren’t the only employee. Don’t forget that the work of a business or organization depends in large part on collaboration and a good working environment.

A group of people working together.

2. Responsibility

This competency is related to the commitment you have to your work. Responsibility is essential if you want to enter the workforce. Irresponsible people, after all, aren’t attractive to employers. Responsibility is all about a sense of duty and compliance.

If you’re not responsible, it quickly becomes obvious that you aren’t interested in your job. That’s because you aren’t showing any sense of duty. Also, if you aren’t taking care of your responsibilities, you’re not really working.

However, keep in mind that there’s no need to go to extremes. Inevitably, you’ll run into some situation that won’t allow you to follow through but it isn’t a problem unless it happens continuously.

3. Assertive communication

Communication is essential in the workplace. Without it, there would be no way to share what you’re thinking with others. When we say assertive communication, we’re talking about the ability to send the message you want to send in the best possible way.

Assertive communication is the best way to interact with people. It should be clear and objective and allow you to express what you need to express. This kind of communication greatly improves the working environment and helps you avoid misunderstandings. As a result, you improve your performance as well.

A trait that goes along with this competency is empathy. If you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes, it’s much easier to communicate your thoughts and feelings without expressing opinions or passing judgments. Organizations and businesses look for people who are good listeners. Also, people who are capable of understanding and communicating information in an appropriate way.

4. A sense of belonging

This is the ability that you have to advocate for the company’s interests. To do that, you have to generally agree with its values. If you have this competency, employers will be more interested in you because they’ll have a loyal employee.

The sense of belonging also has to do with a feeling of pride for being part of your company or organization. People who don’t identify with the values of the place they work at tend to feel bad about themselves, which negatively affects performance.

If you’re already working somewhere, you can improve this competency with the following strategies:

  • Integration activities. These types of activities help you feel motivated by the company.
  • Training. Workplace training can help you learn about the company’s goals and identify with them. On-the-job training can also be great for your self-esteem because it gives you the opportunity to see your own progress and learn new things.
  • Professional and personal development. Being a better person and a better professional is great for your well-being. If you feel good about yourself, you’ll contribute to a positive work environment and you’ll feel more fulfilled at work.

5. The ability to learn

Even if you have a lot of experience in a particular field, you’ll learn something new at every job. This workplace competency is exactly that, the ability to acquire new knowledge and skills.

Employers tend to seek out workers who can quickly take in and process the information and concepts required to do their job. If you’re able to do that, you can grow and excel in your position.

This competency also allows your employer to see that you’re interested in and committed to your work. If you work on developing this competency, not only will you be better at processing new information, but you’ll learn from your mistakes and figure out how to turn them into solutions.

6. Adaptation

This is the ability to be flexible and versatile with new people and situations. If you’re adaptable, it’s easy for you to accept changes, which helps you get along better in the workplace.

This is one of the workplace competencies that are extremely important in our ever-changing world. New technologies and laws require organizations to make significant changes, and employers want people who can easily adapt. Even if you’re not technically prepared for a particular change, the ability to deal with them as they come is very important.

Whether you’re already very flexible or you’re working on it, this competency will make it easier to take on new challenges. As a result, you’ll feel more confident in yourself and your decisions.

A woman who is happy at her job.

7. Planning

Companies obviously want their employees to complete the tasks assigned to them. Planning is a fundamental part of that because it helps you identify your priorities and choose what to focus on first.

If you’re good at organizing your time, you’ll also be much more efficient. That way, you can get more done in less time.

Planning also requires you to be aware of your limitations. In other words, to know what you’re capable of and make realistic plans. Perfectionism is obviously not the goal but giving yourself some guidelines is extremely helpful for getting things done.

Maria Antonia Gallard and Claudia Jacinto suggest that a competency involves an exercise of application in the face of certain situations. Also, they reiterate that these competencies aren’t magically gifted to you. Instead, you learn them from experience.

Fortunately, the workplace competencies we’ve mentioned today are things that we can teach children from a very young age, and acquire on the job. In today’s article, we’ve only touched on the seven that apply to many different kinds of work and contexts but there are many, many more.

  • Gallart, M.A., & Jaciento, C. (1995). Competencias laborales: tema clave en la articulación educación-trabajo. Boletín Educación y trabajo, 6 (2), 1-6.
  • Pinilla, M.D (2006). Assessment Center Paso a Paso. Psicom Editores.