On mastering new skills

A couple years ago I wrote a about how important it is to have more than one skill.

The Harvard Business Review Blog Network just pushed out a little ditty from Amy Gallo, entitled How to Master a New Skill. In it she quotes Joseph Weintraub:

[zilla_alert style=”yellow”]“We need to constantly look for opportunities to stretch ourselves in ways that may not always feel comfortable at first. Continual improvement is necessary to get ahead.”[/zilla_alert]

There’s a certain something about having people on your team who can do more than The Main Thing for which they were hired.

  • The salesperson who also “gets” SEO — and not because he or she sells SEO services.
  • The programmer who understands how customers think and can present to them.
  • The operations manager who can articulate the company’s marketing strategy persuasively.
  • The marketing coordinator who can edit HTML and CSS…maybe even PHP.
  • The business development manager who can analyze and manipulate data through pivot tables in Excel.
  • The credit and collections manager who can offer product advice to a customer.
  • The account director who knows how and why to “view source” on a web page for any number of reasons.

The list goes on.

I’ve bullet-pointed a handful of roles above and simple tasks, but I think it’s particular true for those of us in sales and client services. You can’t JUST be good in front of customers. You can’t JUST smile, network well, or be “on the ball”. Nor can you can’t JUST do well with behind-the-scenes project management or creative work.

You’ve got to have multiple skills, folks. You’ve got to have extended expertise.

The client service professionals, for example, who make a difference for customers are those who deliver value, not those who — as one of my highly skilled, high-performing professionals was told recently — merely haveĀ cute voices. It’s true for those of you in other roles as well.

Do more. Be more. Stretch yourself. Be an credible expert in areas beyond your primary job.

Jeff Haden, writing for Inc. magazine, says remarkable employees ignore job descriptions. Saying it is easier than doing it, true that. But doing it matters enough that it’s worth it.

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