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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 5, individuals will show that they can work with others with diverse backgrounds, and with different cultures and beliefs. 

In previous steps, the focus has been on how to work well with others, thinking about positive working, appropriate behaviour, reliability, taking responsibility and supporting others. This step focuses on understanding and respecting diversity and inclusivity.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • What is diversity 
  • What is equality
  • What is inclusivity

Reflection questions

  • What does diversity mean?
  • What does it mean to be inclusive?
  • What does it mean to discriminate? 
  • How do you create an environment where everyone is respected and able to make a full contribution?

What you need to know

What is diversity?

To be effective in a team, it is essential to recognise that everyone is different and so your team members will all be different to one another and to you. This difference is called diversity.

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The advantages of diversity

Diversity is a strength for a team, because:

  • People will bring different perspectives and experiences.
  • The world is diverse, so it is good to have that reflected in your team.
  • You can make better decisions if you do not all think about the world in the same way.
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Where diversity might come from

Diversity might come from lots of different things, including: gender; sexual orientation; race; religion; socio-economic background; age; experience; disability; and other things too. Appreciating diversity means appreciating the value of these differences.

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What is equality?

Equality is the vital idea that everyone is of equal value in the world, and deserves the same opportunities to make the most of their skills and talents. 

In many ways, equality has still not been achieved for many groups, or individuals with particular characteristics, as shown above. This is an area where we all have an essential part to play in working towards equality for all.

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What is inclusivity?

For your diverse team to achieve its potential, it needs to be inclusive team. That means that everyone needs to be included and to feel included. 

This starts by ensuring that no one is discriminated against. Discrimination is the unfair treatment of different people based on something about them. This is both wrong, and illegal in UK law: you must not treat anyone differently based on their age, disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, among other things.

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Things to consider

There is a lot more though to make sure that everyone is included:

  • What can you learn from the range of experiences that other team members might have, or the perspectives they might take? 
  • How can you make sure that activities or tasks are considered so that everyone can take part fully? 
  • Do you ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to take part?
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Equal opportunities

Being inclusive does not mean that everyone is necessarily treated precisely the same, because some people will have different needs to others. Instead, being inclusive is about making sure that everyone has equal opportunities to contribute and participate – and this is an essential part of working well in a team.

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Advice for

Educators

Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • This topic is covered most effectively as a group discussion, where the teacher can support discussion and contribution of ideas following the three key concepts above. 
  • Depending on the age of the learners, some of the language might have to be simplified to make it accessible. However, the core concepts are accessible and can be brought to life with examples. 
  • It is important to be aware and sensitive of the learners in the group and how to make sure they all feel comfortable and confident to engage with the lesson. 

Reinforcing it

These are important values that should be reinforced through school life. This step helps to bring an additional angle that diversity makes the team more robust, while inclusivity is critical for working effectively as a team and to making the most of everyone’s strengths. 

Assessing it 

This step can be assessed in a combination of ways:

  • Firstly, ensuring that learners understand and are comfortable with the key vocabulary and concepts.
  • Secondly, asking learners to reflect on why the different concepts are important and what they look like practically.
  • Thirdly, observing that learners can put those principles into practice, and don’t behave in ways that are counter to that.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work: 

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

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

Explain to an individual the key concepts of: diversity, equality and inclusivity and why they are important. A manager can emphasise that a diverse team is a more robust team and that inclusivity is critical for working effectively as a team and making the most of everyone’s strengths. To support these points, a manager might reference examples of teams which are more robust become of their diversity and inclusive practices. International sports teams or a team of healthcare workers in a hospital setting might be useful abstract examples to use here.

Model some of the consequences of not respecting or recognising the importance of these concepts. Here a manager might model what can go wrong when an individual does not respect these concepts, to illustrate:

  • The harm that could be caused to other people 
  • The risk we become irrelevant to our customers
  •  The potential of misunderstanding one another 

Task an individual to create guidelines on how to be inclusive at work.

Reflect with the individual about the barriers to an inclusive workplace and how they can contribute to overcoming these in their context. 

Practising it:

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

  • Working with colleagues: Ensuring that we work in an inclusive way that values diversity and promotes equality to build robust teams. 
  • Working with customers or clients: When we are designing our practices and products, with a focus on making sure these inclusive so that they do not disadvantage or discriminate anyone. 

Reviewing it:

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

  • During a check in with an individual, a manager could ask questions which reveal how comfortable the individual is with the key vocabulary and concepts. 
  • They can also observe the individual over time to identify how well they apply these principles into practice.

Spotting it in recruitment: 

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

  • Questioning the individual during an interview to check they understand the key concepts and vocabulary and can explain why these are important.
  • Questioning the individual on what they would do to ensure that they understanding and respecting diversity of others’ cultures, beliefs and backgrounds.

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

Schools and colleges are diverse communities made up of people with different genders, ages, cultures, religions and beliefs, who may simply have the same geographical location in common. Every team or group we work with in school will include a cross section of the community and therefore people with different backgrounds, beliefs and cultures to our own. To work well with others we work inclusively, ensuring everyone has the same opportunities to be involved. The more we understand and respect each other the more effective our work and learning will be.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

Great workplaces are normally made up of teams where individuals are diverse. As discussed above, this strengthens the work because it widens perspectives and experiences, reflects the world better, and supports better decision-making. To make the most of each individuals’ strengths though, requires respecting equality of each individual and working to support inclusivity and ensuring equal opportunities.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

In the UK it is illegal to discriminate against others. However, discrimination and a lack of respect for others remains prevalent in our society. To be able to work well in a team at any event or activity, a sports club to volunteering or work well with the friends and family of others, we need to appreciate the strength that comes from diversity, and ensuring inclusivity for all.

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!

  • Listen to people that you spend time with during the day at school, college or in the workplace. Do they have the same beliefs, background and culture as you? Do you know anything about their culture? Do you know their religion? Do you know if their culture or religion or background cause any regular challenges for them? Seek to understand more about their culture and lives.
  • Reflect on your own unconscious bias. Do you really treat everyone as equal? Discuss your thought with friends or adults you know well. Consider YouTube or TED Talks on Unconscious Bias or look up the work of the Diversity Trust. Identify three things you could do differently to increase your awareness and inclusivity.

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