“Im ace at my job but I can’t seem to move up”. What are career developments skills.

When I talk to people about development skills a few questions inevitably arise, such as “what are they?” and “Why do they matter?” I’m going to attempt to answer these questions and a few more in this post. We define development skills as the skill set required to progress and be

We define development skills as the skill set required to progress and be recognised within your career. Though your ability to do your job is obviously part of this, there is a set of skills that are common to nearly every role. The absence or presence of these skills has a real bearing on just how far you will go within an organisation.


So let’s start by looking at what development skills actually are,


  1. Important.

    Development skills do not get the attention they deserve. We focus on teaching people how to do the job, not how to ensure they are valued for the work they do. This matters as some groups of people (particularly those from upper-middle-class backgrounds) are more likely to be exposed to these skills through family and experience, than others. This can see people who are not aware of these skills, working hard without being rewarded, leading to organisations that often miss out on employing or promoting the best people for the job.


  1. Skills.

    Development skills are just that, skills. They are things that can be learnt, practised and improved. I believe that we have considered these things as a personality type for too long, leaving people afraid to consider the impact and value they could have on progression and development. By seeing them for what they are, skills, we can start to take better control of our careers.


  1. Learnt.

    Most everything we know and do is learnt behaviour. Some of this comes from society, some from our parent’s, others from school and employment. So it stands to reason that if we can learn it, we can relearn it. For example, It might feel that your lack of confidence in your salary review is just part of who you are, but it’s much more likely that it’s a response to not having had your ideas listened to or being felt valued. Although it certainly won’t always be easy, it is defiantly possible to address and change these behaviours to enable you to take control of your career.


  1. Achievable.

    Some developments skills are difficult to master while others are ridiculously achievable. One of our delegates saw an immediate change in the way they were viewed by their colleagues when they simply stopped criticising their own work before others had a chance to form an opinion on it. Like many things, it is not one big change that will make a difference but a series of smaller changes geared towards a similar aim. That’s why we have created a process that helps you to understand the areas you need to develop and be really clear about how well you are developing them.



Our vision for Constructing Careers is to ensure that organisations get the best person for the job by giving people the skills they need to ensure their value is recognised. Our weekly blogs, newsletters, workshops and supporting applications are all designed to do that. So whatever your position or ambition get in touch to find out how we can help you.

We have been running career progression courses in-house for large organisations such as ISG, Vinci and Sisk for over ten years. These course have received exemplary feedback with over 80% of delegates going on to promotion within 12 months and 100% of delegates finding the course met or exceeded expectaions.


For the first time we have just made our one day, two day and weekend spa courses available for public booking in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

What they say –

“Chrissi delivers great workshops that provide a very good insight and essential awareness to career progression. She delivers the course in an engaging manner and enables participants to set achievable goals that can set them on to a good start on career progression straight away.”

Denitza Moreau. Senior Design Manager at Skanska

The middle management minority; using the 6 principles of project management to progress your career.

This blogs borrows from the PRINCE2 seven principles of project management blogged about by projectmanuk; it shall attempt to put the emotional aspects of your career to the side in order to help you progress and achieve your ambitions and goals. It is particularly aimed at minority groups, as they are significantly more likely to face challenges in their work life.  But that being said, the principles can also be applied to a career less likely to face these challenges – quite often the people who would be best placed to lead organisations don’t do so because they place organisational improvement before individual politics; in this circumstance nearly everyone misses out.
  1. Business justification:
Consider your career as a range of short-term projects
·         Undergraduate to graduate,
·         Traineeship to chartered,
·         Chartered to senior, etc.
Then work out how what is required to get you there, how much this will cost and what additional time you will need to put in. Compare this to the return on your investment – and by return I don’t just mean the average salary you are likely to make, but also the value you place on doing your job, the experiences it will give you and the opportunities it will open up. Keep a check on this at certain key points in your career as circumstances can change, ensure you’re are getting what you need and reassess if you are not. If your career is no longer worth the investment it might be worth finding out why and possibly moving firms or changing careers.
  1. Defined roles and responsibilities:
Find out exactly what your job role entails and what the job above you requires. Check yourself against your ability to undertake these tasks. Don’t wait for an internal appraisal be proactive so that when your appraisal does come around, you can justify why you think you are ready for that promotion or rise. If the promotion comes around before you have ticked all the boxes still put yourself forward if you have 60% complete. If nothing else it will give you good experience, but being able to show how you have taken hold of your own development, and the skills you have learned over a given period, can prove that you have what is required to do the job even if you’re are not 100% fighting fit. Also, find out the roles of your managers – I don’t advise that you poke a bear with a stick by pointing out where your managers are going wrong, but rather help where you can – show you are an asset that will move the company forward. In short, make sure you really are doing your job and push to achieve the skills you will need for a promotion. Most importantly, make sure people know about it otherwise there really is very little point – I don’t know about you, but I’m too busy trying to manage my own life to be able to notice every detail of someone else’s.
  1. Manage by exception:
Learn to trust your colleagues and sub-contractors whilst still holding them accountable for their work, in other words let go a little. No one will thank you for micro-managing, and at a professional level you shouldn’t have to. Rather, build relationships and trust and empower those around you to want to produce good work – you’ll be surprised how often people do when given the chance. This doesn’t mean you should be “soft”, if people don’t deliver hold them to account, ensure they redo work and let them know what is and isn’t acceptable – just don’t start a relationship with them as if you have already made up your mind that they will fail, or it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Make sure you record the results of your success; soft skill approaches like this can make managers seem “lucky” as there is no visible cause and effect – so show the long term gain in your approach by measuring how often your projects/contractors come in on time/budget/quality and present this to your managers at appraisal. As previously mentioned, they often only know what you tell them, so tell them more.
  1. Focus on skills:
Think about the skills you want to develop; realistically these should tie into your career plan. Working on the development of these skills can provide you with a way of talking about your development that avoids an emotional situation. For example, instead of talking about how you would have liked to have progressed further and feel unhappy that you haven’t, you can work to develop additional skills that will get you there and use the sum of these skills as evidence for promotion.
  1. Learn from experience:
Don’t risk making the same again and again no matter how unfair the situation might be; consider why certain aspects went well or badly, then incorporate the lessons learned into your approach to your next project. Humans have an amazing capacity to learn, but when it comes to repeating errors made during previous projects, we all too often fail to learn the lessons. If you are not being taken seriously or getting promotions, consider the message you are putting across, learn to manage upwards and sideways as well as down and don’t expect that anyone will notice what you have done just because you have done it.
  1. Tailor to suit the environment:
Understand how your boss and colleagues work tailor your approach. That doesn’t mean changing your personality, rather working to help them achieve their agendas. It can be too easy to base the world of work upon our own ethics of what is right and wrong; how people should and shouldn’t act – in reality, this is rarely the case – we all have our own moral compass and it’s surprising how much they differ.
The biggest problem with discrimination that two-thirds of minority groups in construction are likely to face is that we will never know about it. From unconscious bias to paternal instincts, discrimination rarely makes a grand entrance these days preferring instead to sneak about in the shadows having a subtle, but important, impact on a career that we don’t usually notice until we feel like it’s too late.
By taking firmer control of your career you can at least be sure you are guiding it in the right direction, and whilst this will not always enable you to overcome discrimination and bias, it will at least give you a way forward.