Explore Framework
News & Research
About
Contact

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 10, individuals will show that they can use mentorship to help support and develop others. 

In previous steps, the focus was on individuals understanding the strengths and weaknesses of themselves as leaders and of other team members. They then use this insight to allocate roles accordingly. This step and those that follow look at how to support team members to build those strengths further and to address areas of weakness.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • What mentorship means
  • How mentoring varies
  • What makes mentoring work

Reflection questions

  • What does mentorship mean?
  • Have you ever had a mentor or been a mentor?
  • What do you think makes mentoring work well?
  • When does mentoring not work well?

What you need to know

What mentorship means

Mentorship is where one person provides advice or guidance to another, normally based on their higher level of skill, knowledge, experience or networks. 

It is a way of an individual providing support to another, and using their resources to support them. There is usually a clear split between the roles of the mentor and the mentee (the person who is being mentored), with the mentor typically being more senior. 

Mentorship can happen in the context of education, in employment, in entrepreneurship, and in the wider world. As a result, an individual might have more than one mentor, spanning different areas of their lives. An individual might also have a mentor and be a mentor to someone else at the same time.

-

Different forms of mentoring

Mentoring comes in lots of different forms:

  • It might be an informal arrangement between two people who have got to know one another outside of any organisation.
  • It might be brokered – that is, that another organisation has helped to set up and support the mentoring relationship. This is often the case when young people are being mentored, for example.
  • It might be a formal programme, organised by an organisation for its employees, or by a school, college or university for its students.
  • It might be structural – for example, when a line manager in a business becomes a de facto mentor for those they manage.
-

How mentoring varies

Mentoring can also differ by:

  • How it is delivered: It could be in-person, or over the telephone or virtual. There are good examples of each of these different types of mentorship. 
  • How regular it is: How frequently mentoring happens varies a great deal – it might be a daily event or it might be monthly, or even less often than that.
  • How long the relationship lasts for: Some mentoring relationships are only ever planned to last for a fixed period – perhaps a couple of months or a year. Others run indefinitely for as long as they are useful. 

The type of mentoring that works best depends on the relationship between the mentor and mentee and their goals.

-

What makes mentoring work

When mentoring works well, it can be a powerful tool which has benefits both to the mentee and to the mentor too. Some important things for mentoring to work effectively are:

  • That the mentor and mentee get on with each other, and can have a positive relationship.
  • That the expectations of both are clear and understood by each other – what they think the purpose and focus should be, how long the relationship will last, and agreed norms of how they will communicate. 
  • That both respect each other’s time and the expertise and efforts of the other.
-

Advice for

Educators

Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • The teacher can introduce the idea of mentorship and the value that it can bring, and how many different ways it can be found.
  • Learners could be asked to reflect on people who have been mentors in their lives. These might be through formal mentoring schemes, informal support from older students or family members, or outside of school. It might be helpful to clarify the difference between mentoring and coaching here (see Step 11)
  • Learners could reflect on those experiences and think about when they have worked well or not, and turn this into a set of guidance that they can share, and perhaps turn into a poster or other visual reminder. 

Reinforcing it

This step can be reinforced most easily when learners have the opportunity to mentor others. For example, some schools have a programme that allows older learners to mentor to support younger learners, which can be an invaluable experience for both. 

Assessing it 

This step is best assessed through observing learners taking on a mentoring role, and reflecting on what they felt that they did well in it, and what they could do better.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work: 

This step is relevant to individuals who want to develop others so that they can make a significant contribution to the team goal.

To build this step in the work environment, managers could:

  • Model different examples of mentoring to help the individual understand what good mentoring practice looks like. To achieve this, a manager might first create a model which shows various examples of effective mentoring. These should be examples the individual can easily related to such as mentoring programmes run by the company (such staff development or community outreach programmes). A manager can show this model to the individual, and annotate to show the features of these mentoring arrangements which are consistent across these examples of effective mentoring. This can help the manager to explain what makes mentoring work 
  • Task an individual on an exercise where they experience being mentored. To achieve this a manager might enrol them on a mentoring programme run by the company, or ask them to seek out a mentor. 
  • Reflect with the individual on whether they can identify the value and benefits of mentorship now that they have experienced it. They can then have a go at mentoring someone else. 

Practising it:

There can be some opportunities to build this skill in the workplace:

  • Working with colleagues: When there is an opportunity to share what you know with someone who has a lower level of skill, knowledge, experience or networks than you have.
  • Working with customers or clients: When you know a client has a particular knowledge or skills gap, which you can help them to fill based on your previous experiences. 

Reviewing it:

For those already employed, this step is best assessed through observing individuals as they take on a mentoring role. A manager could stage a reflective conversation with the individual to investigate how they think they are performing in the role of mentor. This should be supplemented by feedback from whoever they are mentoring. 

Spotting it in recruitment: 

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

  • Questioning an individual during an interview process to ask how they would support an individual with lower level of skill, knowledge, experience or networks than they have. Evidence of this skill step can be found in the individual describing how they can mentor this individual and explaining how they would approach this. 
  • This might also be supplemented by requesting the individual supply a reference from someone who they have mentored in the past.

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

Mentoring plays an important role in an education setting. The mentor and mentee may both be students, one being more senior or older than the other. Examples include, mentoring of a new student by an older student to provide support as they settle into a new environment, an A-level or GCSE student providing support to a younger student struggling with a subject, or a secondary or college student reading to and supporting primary students. You are able to offer valuable support to a younger or less experienced student if you master this step of Leadership.

The students within a school may also be offered mentoring from outside the organisation. Students setting up their own business within school or college may be offered mentoring by a local entrepreneur, a student may receive career mentoring from someone outside the school or college, who works in that field.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

In most organisations, personnel development is a key priority so the business can ensure that the employees have the skills necessary to fulfil their role effectively. It also ensures that employees continue to learn and develop the skills necessary to further their careers. The success of skills development in the workplace is based on employees being able to mentor and develop each other. With expertise at this step, you will be in a position to mentor and develop others, both in and outside of your own team.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

Mentoring provides support to others and in a life outside work or school or college there may be times when you can support others, possibly friends or family, to develop their skills or cope when faced with a difficult or challenging scenario. You may be able to offer your services formally for an organisation where you have the relevant experience to support and develop others, perhaps those less privileged who are looking to develop their essential skills. In a charity setting, where many people may be volunteers, the ability to mentor, to lead, support and develop others will bring many benefits to the organisation.

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!

  • At your school, college or workplace, offer your services as a mentor to another student or colleague. Think very specifically about what skills or experience you could use to support another person.
  • Think about a time when you have been mentored. Was the person older or more experienced than you? What was the arrangement? How was it set up? How regularly did you meet? How long did it go on for? Reflect on whether the mentoring worked well for you. If so, why? If not, why not? How could the situation have been improved?
  • Think about how mentoring can be delivered: for example, in person, over the telephone or virtually. Record what you think might be the benefits or challenges of each method. Which method of delivery would you prefer to use if you were asked to mentor someone? How could you overcome the challenges of the other methods?

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