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Top 10 Skills For Government Workers In 2012

Around this time, various IT and professional web sites list what they consider the top skills for the coming year. It's interesting to look back and see what skills stay on the lists, what skills fall off the list, and the new skills that appear. I haven't seen such a list for government workers so I thought I would start a discussion by crowdsourcing the GovLoop community for ideas. Here are my recommendations (in no particular order):

  1. Microstyle - Given the prevalence of social networking tools such as Twitter, being able to write succinctly but clearly has become more important in the government workplace. 
  2. Digital Presentations - PowerPoint is still the number one presentation tool but Prezi and videocasting are quickly gaining as alternatives to the "death by bullet points" presentations.
  3. Accessibility - Every government worker should have a good understanding of Section 508 and how to make their documents/presentations accessible.
  4. Project Management - Most modern government work is a project and even though an employee may not become a project manager the odds are that they will be on a project team. Knowing basic project management skills can greatly help to advance your career. 
  5. HTML5 and CSS3 - Even if you are not a developer, many government leaders (including New York Mayor Bloomberg) are learning to program. Learn HTML5 and CSS3 to develop mobile-friendly web sites and to use the new EPUB3 format for electronic documents.
  6. Adaptive Case Management - This is an emerging method of processing work built around the natural work processes of knowledge workers.
  7. Design Thinking - Several obituaries have been written for design thinking but I believe that this is the best method for dealing with wicked problems.
  8. Collaboration [video] - Being able to work with others to effectively solve problems has been a much-needed skill in the past and it will continue to be so in the future.
  9. Customer Engagement - Even if your customers are other employees, being able to deliver good customer service and understand customer needs will make you a standout employee.
  10. Continuous Self-Learning - The best employees realize that their skills have a shelf-life and are constantly teaching themselves new skills.

What do you recommend as the top 10 skills for government workers in 2012?

Disclaimer: All opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of my employers or any organizations I belong to and should not be construed as such.

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Tags: 2, communications, jobs, leadership, project management, tech


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Comment by Eric Melton on February 7, 2012 at 10:47am

@ Danielle's comment: Flexibility or Open-mindedness.

Comment by John Sim on February 6, 2012 at 11:12am

What a great list, thanks Bill.  Here's an output that combines the skills from #1, #2, and #5:  infographics.  I think the fed sector could benefit from learning how to make, use, and deploy infographics to convey large amounts of data and prove how results are being met.  

And here's a new skill to add to the list:  disruptive innovation.

Comment by Chelsey Hibbard on February 6, 2012 at 8:12am

Nice list!  I really like #3 (Accessibility) - I think that is too often overlooked.   In conjuction with that, I don't believe Prezi (#2) is Section 508 compliant.  Or at least it wasn't last time I researched it (about 6 months ago).  Maybe they've added new capabilities but I would urge people to verfy that it is (or is not) compliant before using Prezi.

Comment by Camille Roberts on February 3, 2012 at 1:11pm

Great list, Bill! The comments from everyone are fantastic too! I would add writing and engagement to the list. Email is still the #1 social network. I don't see writing going away any time soon. I would also be interested to know the top 7-10 "technologies" people use the most every day in their jobs, including software, hardware, and mobile devices. Thank you for compiling this list. Great post!

Comment by Jeffrey C. Ady on February 2, 2012 at 4:16pm

"Think before you speak" psychologists have called this "self-monitoring" [and a personality attribute, not a skill, interestingly] for some forty years now, but for those in public service this is a critical skill.

Comment by Joe Flood on February 2, 2012 at 9:37am

Microstyle is a brilliant idea. With texting and Twitter, all of us will be writing less in the future. We'll need to pack more meaning in fewer words - and be clear about what we're trying to communicate. That's a challenge!

Comment by Ashley Fuchs on February 2, 2012 at 9:34am

I think HTML5 and CSS3 are really important (maybe I'm biased) for all employees in government. If you're not keen on getting into programming then work on your writing for the web skills. I have this feeling that soon all gov employees will be responsible for content on their intranet or public facing website if not already. 

I would also add documentation to this list. If all employees are essentially project managers then they should be creating useful documentation for the projects they are working on. Otherwise the knowledge leaves when they leave. This is especially true for IT departments. System users don't have time to (or don't like to) fiddle around with technology to figure it out. Clear documentation can free up support resources faster, increase productivity overall and most importantly empower staff. 

Comment by Kathryn Troutman on February 1, 2012 at 5:10pm

I know this is old school, but Public Speaking is still a great skill to keep up-to-date and refresh. A class in public speaking can help you with a PPT presentation, project leadership or selling a program. In my fedres writing classes, I think that communications skills are still challenging for government employees.

Comment by Dannielle Blumenthal on February 1, 2012 at 1:29pm
@Bill - probably the skill is "unlearning," if there is such a thing. Or possibly even "deprogramming." It is amazing how angry people can get when you threaten to undermine everything they thought (were told) was true.
Comment by Bill Brantley on February 1, 2012 at 12:23pm

Thanks to everyone for their kind comments! To be honest, I was expecting more disagreements with the list but I certainly appreciate the additions.

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