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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 4, individuals will show that they are willing to support others, but with an awareness of when they can. 

Earlier steps have focused on the building blocks of working with others, looking at working positively, behaving appropriately, being on-time and reliable, and then taking responsibility for completing tasks. This step builds on this further by thinking about supporting others too.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • What it means to support others
  • Why supporting others is important and helpful 
  • How to know if you can support with something

Reflection questions

  • What does it mean to support other people?
  • Why is it important to try to support other people?
  • When should you not try to support someone else?
  • Do you have experiences of having supported others, or been supported yourself?

What you need to know

What it means to support others

Supporting others is about helping them to complete a task. This might happen in one of a few ways:

  • Sharing tasks that benefit from there being two or more people involved – for example, when painting a room, lifting things or digging a hole.
  • Providing advice or showing how to do something if you have higher expertise and they ask for it. 
  • Taking on tasks if you have time available while someone else still has lots to do.
  • Providing encouragement if someone seems unsure or is lacking in confidence.
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Why it is important to support others

There are lots of reasons why it is good to support others – and why it is such an essential part of the skill of Teamwork:

  • Your team are more likely to be able to get tasks finished on time and to a good standard. 
  • By showing that you will support others when they need it, you are more likely to be offered support when you need it. 
  • All of us benefit from encouragement at times, to help us feel that we are doing a good job and to keep us feeling motivated about continuing to work hard. 
  • Supporting others is an excellent way to use our skills, and to help others to build their skills too. Lots of skills we learn, we are shown by someone else.
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How to know if you can support with something

Although it usually is helpful and welcome to support someone else, there are a few things you should think about:

  • Do you have the expertise to help out the other person?
  • Would it be dangerous for you to try to get involved?
  • Do they want support? It is always good to check before you get involved.
  • What is the best way to support with a task? Some tasks can be easily divided between people, but others need one person to complete them.
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How to respond if help isn’t needed

If someone does not want your support, then it is critical not to get upset about it because it is probably for a good reason. Instead, you can ask others in your team if there is anything else that you can be doing to help any of them.

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Advice for

Educators

Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • The teacher can introduce the idea of supporting other people to complete their tasks, and why this is an integral part of Teamwork. 
  • This can broaden into a discussion with learners about when others have supported them and how it helped. The teacher might also contribute and model some examples themselves. It is crucial to illustrate the range of ways that support might be presented and how different types of support are appropriate in different settings, depending on the task and the skills involved.
  • Learners can then be given a piece of work to work on as a team, but with tasks designed and allocated so some learners have a much quicker easier task than others. The challenge is then to see whether learners are able and willing to support one another to get everything done. 

Reinforcing it

This step can be reinforced whenever there is group work, reminding learners that they should think not just about completing their own tasks, but also about how they can support others in their teams too. Good examples can be shared and rewarded.

Assessing it 

This step can be assessed through long-term observation of how learners interact with one another and whether they show that they can support one another in an appropriately. It can also be assessed through a structured group activity which relies on learners supporting one another to complete the task.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work: 

This step is relevant to all those who work with others on shared projects.

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

  • Discuss with the individual their ideas about what it means to support others. To scaffold this conversation, a manager might ask the individual to describe times when they have felt really supported at work. If appropriate, the manager might examples of when they have felt really supported at work too. Through this conversation, the individual and manager can arrive at what it means to support others based on their experiences of being supported themselves. 
  • Model a process of supporting others, to provide an individual an example they can follow. To achieve this, a manager might demonstrate a model of a process to create this effect in a number of hypothetical situations. This process could show two stages: how to check if they can support someone and techniques to communicating the support they can offer. 
  • Task an individual to create an inventory of the ways they can support others in the workplace. 
  • Reflect with the individual on the opportunities there are for them to support others in the workplace.

Practising it:

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

  • Working with colleagues: When involved in sharing work with others, with a focus on being aware of how you can support other people in their tasks. 
  • Through working in partnership with customers, clients or stakeholders: At moments during a relationship when we can explore their needs, in order to think about how we might be able to support them to achieve their goals. 

Reviewing it:

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

  • Checking in with an individual, asking questions to understand if the individual knows how to support others.
  • A manager can check this against observations they make on the individual’s behaviour, and whether they do proactively support others. 
  • This can be complemented by feedback from their team.  

Spotting it in recruitment: 

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

  • Questioning an individual during an interview. Evidence of this skill step can be found in the individual showing an awareness of why it is important to support others.
  • Alternatively, a hiring manager can observe an individual during a group exercise. The exercise can be designed in such a way that some tasks are much quicker and easier than others. Here, an individual can evidence this skill step through showing they have thought about how they can help that person and exercising behaviours which are about providing practical support.

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

When we work on a group project or assignment at school or beyond, it is unlikely that the jobs and tasks can be shared out equally. There will be differences because of the interest, skills and time available for each individual, as well as what the tasks require. However, responsibility for completion of the project or assignment rests with the whole group so it is everyone’s interest to get the work completed then everyone can receive a mark or grade or recognition for a job well done. It may be necessary to support others to make sure the project is completed.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

Each business or organisation will have an over-arching goal or mission, which will apply to everyone who works for them. Each project or piece of work should work towards to this main goal. It is in the interest of every employee to help the business achieve its goal so the organisation thrives and jobs continue to exist. By supporting others, through encouragement, sharing or advice we are helping to achieve the main goal of the business and keeping everyone in work.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

In the wider world, working well with others and supporting them may not be rewarded with a promotion, good marks, increased pay or even recognition. The decision to support others could be described as a choice, a personal value or even a sign of respect. However, by working with others and supporting them, for example helping a friend to build a shed, organising a cake sale or planting a community garden, we are sharing our skills, promoting a positive attitude, and encouraging others to complete a group activity.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Teamwork, 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!

  • Last time you completed a group project, did you offer to help or support to others in your group? If not, why not? Were there people who may have benefitted from some support? How might they have reacted if you had offered?
  • Next time you complete your assigned task within a group project, offer support to others in the group. What questions could you ask? How might you react if they declined your support?
  • Have you ever been involved in a project and wished that someone would help you with your task? What happened? Did anyone offer support? Did you ask for help? Was the project completed successfully and on time?

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