Explore Framework
News & Blog


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 6, individuals will show that when faced with a setback, they can cheer others up and then encourage them to keep trying. 

In the previous step, the focus expanded from the individual managing their own emotions to thinking about others’ feelings too. This step builds on this by focusing not just on how to cheer others up, but to keep them focused on persisting with a task.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • How motivation can change when something goes wrong
  • How to encourage others to remain motivated and keep trying

Reflection questions

  • What is motivation?
  • How does motivation change when something goes wrong?
  • How can you remain motivated in the face of setbacks?
  • How can you encourage others to keep trying too?

What you need to know

Motivation: how much we need something

Motivation is your desire to do something – in this case, to continue with a task. Motivation is affected by several things, including:

If something is essential for our survival (for example, finding water in a desert), then we will be highly motivated because the cost of not getting it would be disastrous. However, we can also see things in terms of high reward - we are more likely to be motivated to do something where the positive reward is high.


Motivation: likelihood of success

When we think about what reward we are likely to get from something, we adjust that by the probability or likelihood that we are successful. If we think something is likely to be successful if we work at it, then we tend to be more motivated. However, if it feels like it will be just luck whether we achieve the reward or not, then there is lower motivation.


The role of motivation

We have already looked at how things going wrong, or setbacks, can affect our emotions. These emotions can have a significant effect on how we feel about continuing on something – and we saw that other people are likely to feel similarly.

There is also another effect, though, which is on our motivation. If something bad happens, we might feel that either the potential reward has been reduced, or that the likelihood that we are successful has been reduced. In simple terms, we might not get what we wanted from what we were doing any more.

If we lose motivation, we are much less likely to stick at something.


Encouraging others to remain motivated

Before we can get motivated again, we need to be able to manage our emotional response to a setback, which is what we explored in some of the earlier steps. In Step 5, we also looked at how to cheer up others when something goes wrong. 

This is an essential first step. Then we can focus on how to rebuild the motivation of other people to keep going with something. 

It might be that once the emotional response has weakened, that people can see that there has been little change in the reward for their efforts, or the likelihood of success. In this case, showing people this might help them to be motivated again.


Strategies to try

However, if this doesn’t work, there are some other ways of motivating others, by getting them to think about:

  • How much work they have already put in.
  • How much progress has already been made.
  • How much other members of the team, or in the wider world are relying on them to get the task done.
  • Other examples of individuals who have been through similar adversity and come out of it positively and been successful in the end. 
  • How it is possible to adapt to overcome the setback.

Appealing to rational and emotional sides

It is often important to appeal both to the rational side and to the emotional side of how people think. 

Finally, it is important to maintain positivity – focusing on what is going well, encouraging people to see progress and recognising their efforts. This is likely to be much more effective than being negative about them not putting in enough effort, needing to get a grip or similar.


Advice for


Why this skill step matters in education

In education, we often find ourselves working with others and when we are learning we are all likely to find things challenging. Sometimes the challenges may feel so great it can feel like there are lots of things going wrong. At times like these a person may think about giving up. It is at these times that it is important for them to keep trying. Many educators believe this is when the greatest learning can take place. Having the ability to encourage someone else to keep trying when they are feeling like they want to give up, to be able to motivate them, will be beneficial to their learning and your own.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

When things go wrong at work it may mean someone may want to remove themselves from the situation and avoid the task or their job altogether. This can be problematic in any workplace because rarely does one person work on their own in isolation. Most workplaces require their employees to work together on smaller tasks which build together in larger projects. If one person does not complete their task, it may mean someone else has to do it as well as their own job – adding to their workload. A replacement may need to be hired. This can mean the whole project takes longer to be completed than originally planned. This may cost the business more money and may even damage their reputation. Being able to motivate yourself and your colleagues to stay positive, and keep trying the best they can is therefore desirable. Some businesses and organisations work hard to retain their employees for their resilience and ability to stay motivated and motivate others.

Why this skill step matters in the wider world

Things go wrong. It is part of life. We may find certain situations are difficult and they can cause negative emotions to be experienced. Having strategies we can use in trying times can help us to stay positive and not to give up. This is valuable not only for our own well-being and mental health but for others too. Being able to offer support to our family, friends, colleagues and community by encouraging them and motivating them can help them maintain positivity. We should try to focus on what is going well, encouraging others to see progress and recognising their efforts.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Staying Positive, 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!

  • Read, listen or watch the news. Choose a news item about something going wrong for someone. What would you say to them to encourage them to keep going and not give up?
  • Choose someone you admire – it could be a friend, a family member, a member of your local community or a well-known public figure. Find out what motivates them. How do they ensure they keep going when things go wrong? What advice would they give to anyone who is having a difficult time and is feeling like they might give up?
  • Think about what motivates you to keep going even when things go wrong? Write, draw or create a mood board on the theme of motivation. Share your ideas with others and listen to their ideas too.

Build this step

Advice for


Teaching It

To teach this step:

  • The teacher can remind learners about what they already know about how to manage their own emotional response to setbacks and how this can be extended to support others to cheer up in the face of something going wrong. 
  • This can be extended to a discussion around motivation. It is worth highlighting that the rational basis for motivation is the focus here, but there are other reasons why people might persist too, including their values. The teacher could model what motivates them – what they (or others) get out of their efforts.
  • The teacher can then ask learners to reflect on what they think would motivate them to continue with something in the face of a setback, and gather ideas. 
  • Finally, learners could use role play based on hypothetical or real examples to practice applying some of these ideas. 

Reinforcing it

This step is best reinforced when there are group activities already taking place, where learners might need to face setbacks together. Here, the teacher can help to scaffold learners in thinking through how motivation might have changed in response to something going wrong and facilitate them thinking through some of the motivating questions together. Over time, learners can take more of a lead in motivating one another – a process which will be supported by opportunities for reflection and feedback along the way. 

Assessing it 

This step is best assessed through observation in a structured activity. For example, learners might be working together on an activity where something happens to reduce their likelihood of a successful outcome. It can be identified through the assessment where learners were able to maintain the motivation of others in their team to complete the task.

Build this step

Advice for


Build it at work: 

This step will be relevant to people who encounter setbacks at work with others. 

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

  • Discuss with an individual how to manage their own emotional response to setbacks and how this can be extended to support others to encourage others in the face of something going wrong. A manager might extend this into a discussion around motivation, explaining how an individual might make a rational or emotional appeal to motivate an individual.
  • Model what motivates them and how this changes when situations change to show the effect of motivation.
  • Task an individual to apply some of these ideas based on hypothetical or real examples.
  • Reflect with the individual about what they think would motivate them to continue with something in the face of a setback. 

Practising it:

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

  • Working with colleagues: Supporting others when something goes wrong, there is a challenge or a setback. 
  • Working with customers or clients: Cultivating commitment from a customer, client or stakeholder while things are going wrong. 

Reviewing it:

For those already employed, this step is best assessed through discussion, reflection and observation. For instance:

  • A manager could discuss with an individual how they might motivate others when things are going wrong.
  • For further insight a manager could collect feedback from stakeholders on how well the individual has support them to keep trying in the face of a setback. A manager might collect this information through a performance 360.
  • Finally, a manager could observe the individual and how the operate in their team to see whether they are able to encourage others in the face of setbacks. 

Spotting it in recruitment: 

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

  • Observing an individual as they work with others on an activity where something happens to reduce their likelihood of a successful outcome. Evidence of this skill step in action can be found in how an individual motivates others in their team to complete the task.
  • Questioning the individual to look for evidence that they have kept trying when something has gone wrong, and encouraged others to keep going too.

Build this step

Advice for


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

Parents & Carers

At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including:

  • Talking with your child about the essential skills, what they are and how they are useful in all
    aspects of life, whether at school, home or in the workplace
  • Talking about how you use these skill steps in your own work or wider life
  • Helping your child to identify where they already build their skills at school, at home or
    through other activities and clubs
  • Praising your child when they show they are using the skills well, and helping them to feel a
    sense of achievement
  • Encouraging them to recognise and talk confidently about their skill strengths with others, and
    supporting them to develop their skills further

More resources