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Listening

The receiving, retaining and processing of information or ideas
This skill is all about being able to effectively receive information - whether it comes from customers, colleagues or stakeholders.

Initially, the skill steps concentrate on being able to listen effectively to others - including remembering short instructions, understanding why others are communication and recording important information.

Individuals then focus on how they demonstrate that they are listening effectively, thinking about body language, open questioning and summarising and rephrasing.

Beyond that, the focus is on being aware of how they might be being influenced by a speaker, through tone and language.

The final steps are about critical listening - comparing perspectives, identifying biases, evaluating ideas and being objective.

Speaking

The oral transmission of information or ideas
This skill is all about how to communicate effectively with others, being mindful of whether they are talking to customers, colleagues or other stakeholders and in different settings.

Initially, this skill focuses on being able to speak clearly - first with well known individuals and small groups and then with those who are not known.

The next stage is about being an effective speaker by making points logically, by thinking about what listeners already know and using appropriate language, tone and gesture.

Beyond that, individuals focus on speaking engagingly through use of facts and examples, visual aids, and their expression and gesture.

Beyond that stage, speakers will be adaptive to the response of their listeners and ready for different scenarios. The final steps focus on speaking influentially - using structure, examples, facts and vision to persuade listeners.

Problem Solving

The ability to find a solution to a situation or challenge
This skill focuses on how to solve problems, recognising that while part of Problem Solving is technical know-how and experience, there are also transferable tools that individuals can develop and use.

The first steps focus on being able to follow instructions to complete tasks, seeking help and extra information if needed. The next stage focuses on being able to explore problems by creating and assessing different potential solutions. This includes more complex problems, without a simple technical solution.

Beyond this, the focus is on exploring complex solutions - thinking about causes and effects, generating options, and evaluating those options. This extends into analysis using logical reasoning and hypotheses.

Finally, individuals implement strategic plans to solve complex problems, assess their success, and draw out learning for the future.

Creativity

The use of imagination and the generation of new ideas
Creativity is the complement to Problem Solving, and is about generating innovations or ideas which can then be honed through the problem-solving process.

The first few steps focus on the individual's confidence in imagining different situations and sharing their ideas.

The focus is then on generating ideas - using a clear brief, making improvements to something that already exists and combining concepts.

Individuals then apply creativity in the context of their work and their wider life. They can build off this to develop ideas using tools like mind mapping, questioning, and considering different perspectives.

The most advanced steps focus on building effective innovation in group settings and by seeking out varied experiences and stimuli. Finally, individuals support others to innovate, by sharing tools, identifying the right tools for the situation and through coaching.

Staying Positive

The ability to use tactics and strategies to overcome setbacks and achieve goals
This skill is all about individuals being equipped to manage their emotions effectively and being able to remain motivated, and ultimately to motivate others, even when facing setbacks.

The early steps focus on identifying emotions - particularly feeling positive or negative. Building off that is the ability to keep trying - and then staying calm, thinking about what went wrong, and trying to cheer up and encourage others.

The focus then turns to identifying new opportunities in difficult situations, sharing those, and adapting or creating plans accordingly. At more advanced steps, individuals identify and manage risks and gains in opportunities.

Finally, individuals support others to stay positive by managing their own response, helping others to see opportunities and creating plans to achieve them.

Aiming High

The ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them
This skill is about being able to plan effectively - both to achieve organisational goals, and also to set their own personal development targets. Initially, this is about knowing when something is too difficult, and having a sense of what doing well looks like for an individual.

The focus is then about working with care and attention, taking pride in success and having a positive approach to new challenges. Building on this, individuals set goals for themselves, informed by an understanding of what is needed, and then be able to order and prioritise tasks, secure resources and involve others effectively.

At the higher steps, the focus is creating plans informed by an individual's skill set, with clear targets, and building on external views. At the most advanced level, individuals develop long-term strategies. These are informed by an assessment of internal and external factors, structured through regular milestones and feedback loops.

Leadership

Supporting, encouraging and developing others to achieve a shared goal
This skill is relevant not only for individuals in positions of management with formal power, but also for individuals working with peers in teams.

At the earliest stages, the focus is on basic empathy - understanding their own feelings, being able to share them, and recognising the feelings of others. The focus is on managing - dividing up tasks, managing time and sharing resources, managing group discussions and dealing with disagreements.

Beyond that, individuals build their awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of their teams. This allows them to allocate tasks effectively. They then build techniques to mentor, coach and motivate others. At the highest steps, individuals will be able to reflect on their own leadership style and understand its effect on others.

Ultimately, they should be able to build on their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses, and adapt their leadership style to the situation.

Teamwork

Working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal
This skill applies to working within both formal and informal teams, and also with customers, clients or other stakeholders. Initially, this is about individuals fulfilling expectations around being positive, behaving appropriately, being timely and reliable and taking responsibility. This extends to understanding and respecting diversity of others' cultures, beliefs and backgrounds.

The next steps focus on making a contribution to a team through group decision making recognising the value of others' ideas and encourage others to contribute too.Beyond that, individuals improve their teams through managing conflict and building relationships beyond the immediate team. At the top steps, individuals focus on how they influence their team through suggesting improvements and learning lessons from setbacks.

Ultimately, individuals support the team by evaluating others strengths and weaknesses and bringing in external expertise and relationships.

To achieve Step 1, individuals will be able to communicate how they are feeling about something to their teams. 

In the previous step, the focus was on individuals being able to recognise their feelings about something. This step builds on this by thinking about how to share those feelings with others.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • Why it is helpful to explain how you are feeling 
  • Some bad ways of expressing how you are feeling
  • Some good ways of expressing how you are feeling

Reflection questions

  • Why is it helpful to be able to explain your feelings to others in your teams?
  • What should you be careful about doing when you talk about your feelings?
  • Can you give any examples of when you have done this? What was the result?

What you need to know

Why is it helpful to share negative emotions?

When we are working with other people, it can be useful to share how we feel about things.

If we are feeling negative emotions:

  • People can support us: If we are feeling negative emotions, other people might help us understand a situation better or help us feel better about it. 
  • People can understand our view: We might be feeling differently about something to other people, so it’s useful to explain this. This difference might be because we see problems that other people don’t, or what someone has said has affected us in a way other people have not seen. This is essential information to share. 
  • People might share their views: If we share our opinions well, it encourages other people to share theirs too. It might be that actually everyone shares feels the same view, but no one has said it yet.
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Why is it helpful to share positive emotions?

If we are feeling positive emotions:

  • People might feel encouraged: If you share positive emotions about something with people, they tend to feel more positive about it too. This encouragement is critical to make people want to do something.
  • People can see the positive side of something: It might be that other people have negative emotions about something – if you share how you feel it can help them to see the other side of the situation.
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Expressing your feelings badly

We have to be careful, though, because it is easy to share how you’re feeling poorly – which can be much more damaging than not sharing your feelings at all.

  • Sometimes people share how they are feeling about something through their body language without explaining how they are feeling or why. If you feel negatively about something, other people in your team can probably tell but if you do not explain how you are feeling and why, they cannot do anything to help and might feel that you are not trying to make something better.
  • Sometimes when people are angry, they cannot stop themselves from shouting, pointing or behaving aggressively. This is a poor way of sharing how you feel because it will upset other people or make them angry too. 
  • Sometimes when people are sad, they don’t want to talk to the group because they feel too upset. However, not talking means that others don’t understand your concerns and might think that you are just not interested.
  • Sometimes when people are scared, they become nervous and want to leave the situation. Leaving the situation can sometimes be the right answer if you are in danger. At other times, it is better to talk about why you feel like that so the problem or situation can be resolved.
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How to express your feelings in a good way

It is possible to express how you are feeling, whether positive or negative, in an effective way if you are careful. There are a few things you should do:

  • Think before you speak – the most important thing to remember is that you have an emotional feeling about something quicker than your head can think about it. Get into the habit of stopping yourself, thinking first about why you feel the way you do before reacting. 
  • Try not to make it personal if it is negative – don’t say “she made me feel…” or “he makes me angry…” Instead, try not to blame other people. For example, you could say “I felt angry because…”. This will stop an argument. 
  • Try to explain why you feel that way – sometimes it can be challenging to tell why we feel the way we do about something, but if you can explain it, it will make it a lot easier for other people to understand how they can help.
  • Ask other people how they are feeling too – it can be helpful to know how other people are feeling in case it changes your mind or makes you think about something differently.
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Advice for

Educators

Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • The teacher can introduce the skill step by asking learners to reflect on why it can be valuable to express feelings to others they are working with. These ideas can be gathered and discussed.
  • The teacher can then facilitate a discussion of how this can be poorly done and what the impact would be. Learners could reflect on times when they feel they have shared their feelings poorly. 
  • The teacher can then ask learners to come up with a series of tips for how to express emotions well. These can be used as helpful visual reminders.
  • Finally, learners could use role-play to practise how they would share their feelings effectively in various hypothetical scenarios. 

Reinforcing it

This step can be reinforced in the classroom quite easily. When learners are in groups, it can be good to encourage them to express how they are feeling about things that their groups are discussing or working on – and how to share their feelings effectively. This might also be a helpful approach to resolving conflicts outside of learning. 

Assessing it 

This step is best assessed through observation of group tasks and reflection when incidents have occurred. You will be looking to see that learners can effectively share their feelings without causing further harm or upset, and where possible to resolve differences.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work:

This step is relevant to all individuals at work.To build this step in the work environment, managers could:

  • Discuss with the individual why it is important for them to express their emotions to the other people they are working with. Here, a manager might explain the consequences of not doing this, perhaps referring to their experiences of not doing so themselves and the impact.
  • Model to an individual some productive ways to express how you feel. To achieve this a manager might demonstrate what it looks like to share their emotions badly, exaggerating some of the examples listed above. They could then compare this with a demonstration of ways to positively express how you feel, to help an individual to recognise the differences. 
  • Task an individual to shadow a role model who is experienced at sharing their emotions positively in the workplace. During this shadowing placement an individual can take notes on the techniques the role model used to create this effect 
  • Reflect with the individual on what they have learnt by focusing on how to share their emotions in a productive way.


Practising it:

There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:

  • Working with colleagues: During team situations when there is an opportunity to share feelings about ideas or events.
  • Working with customers or clients: When receiving customer feedback or managing challenging situations. 


Reviewing it:

For those already employed, this step is best assessed through a reflective conversation with an individual. For instance:

  • A manager could check in with an individual and ask them to explain how they are feeling about an aspect of their work or about an idea or proposal being shared. Evidence of this skill step can be found in the individual sharing their feelings in a positive way, making use of some of the techniques listed above.


Spotting it in recruitment: 

During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed for by:

  • Observing the individual during an assessed exercise which could be about giving and receiving feedback – perhaps as part of a customer service simulation. As part of this exercise, the individual can be tasked to describe how they feel about the feedback they have received. Evidence of this skill step can be found in the individual sharing their emotions in a productive way.

Build this step

Advice for

Organisations

We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.

We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:

  • Tools for self-reflection
  • Materials to support you to teach the skills, if appropriate in your setting
  • Reward systems like printable certificates

We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.

More resources

Advice for

Individuals

Why this skill step matters in education

In education we often have to work with other people, sometimes in pairs or in larger groups. We may have to work on a project, prepare a drama piece or practise a presentation. When working with others, it is important that everyone contributes and plays their part in the work or tasks to be done. How we feel about something can influence how we work with others, and may affect the contribution we make, either positively or negatively.

Our success at this step will depend upon our ability to express these emotions and feelings in an appropriate manner. All benefits may be lost and negative situations appear even worse if we do not think about how we share them.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

In the workplace, we often have to work as a member of a team. This may be a long-standing or permanent arrangement, for example a department production team. In some cases, the team may be brought together for a short-term period for a specific project or task. The team may be in different locations and work remotely, or even meet every day. Whatever the style or location of the team, the group need to work together to make decisions, complete tasks and take actions.

When we are experiencing negative emotions our body language or spoken word may hold the group back from making decisions or completing tasks. If we are able to explain our negative feelings about something, others in the team may be able to help through support and understanding. We can then play a full role as a contributing member of the team. Likewise,if we are feeling a particularly positive emotion, we can use that to help our team move forward, get decisions made and tasks completed with enthusiasm, energy or even excitement, through our motivation and encouragement of others.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

In our daily life we are likely to spend time with others: for example, playing sport or spending time with friends. Whilst we may not be labelled as a team, we are doing or enjoying something together and how we feel about it is likely to impact on our behaviour towards others or the activity.

When we are experiencing negative emotions our body language or spoken word may hold the others back from playing the game well or enjoying themselves. If we are able to explain our negative feelings, others in the group may be able to help overcome the negative emotion, through support and understanding. Likewise, if we are feeling a particularly positive emotion, we can use that inject enthusiasm, energy or even excitement, into our sport or social life.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Leadership, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!

  • During a film or whilst reading a story, stop to think about one of the characters. How do they feel? Have they told anyone? What might happen if they told people?
  • Each morning for a week, identify how you feel. Tell your parent, friend, or colleague. Was it easy to explain? How could you have explained it differently? How did the other person react?
  • Draw a picture or cut out pictures of three people. Imagine they are all on the way to play sport. Draw a thought bubble to show how each person feels. Make each person have a different emotion. How might they show that emotion? How might the other people react?
  • Think about an occasion when the feelings of someone else spoilt an event for you. What was that person feeling? How did they show that emotion? How did you feel about the situation?
  • Think about an event that was particularly exciting or enjoyable. Think about how you felt at the time. How did you show this emotion? Did you share your enthusiasm? How? Were others feeling the same?

Build this step

Advice for

Parents & Carers

As a parent or carer, you might be thinking about how best to support your children to build their essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:

  • Talking about how you use these skill steps in your own life
  • Trying to show how to use the skill steps, and explaining why you are doing what you are doing
  • Praising your children when they show they are using the skills well, and help them to see that as a worthwhile achievement

We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help parents to build these skills, including:

  • Skill stories for the youngest children (aged 3+)
  • Short activities that you can complete together
  • Regular challenges that you can complete at home to build the essential skills
  • Reward systems like printable certificates and badges

There is also content for older children and young people, including short activities and reflections that they can complete alone, or with you.

Build this step