Cultivating the corner stones of a good office 2

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), an American organisation that connects college career services professionals with university relations and recruiting professionals, as well as businesses affiliates, asked employers what skills and qualities they desire from graduates in 2015.

The sample was small, but the results offered valuable insight to those entering the job market:

The attributes employers wanted most from those who’ll soon be submitting CV’s are leadership qualities and the ability to work effectively in a team. Coming in at a close second are communication skills, followed by the ability to solve problems in the workplace.

These skills and attributes have long been the cornerstones of a happy, productive office. This makes them important not only for graduates to take note of, but to anyone who’d like to foster better relationships and conditions in their company.

The question then becomes how to best nurture and grow those qualities, so that the business can go from strength to strength in 2015:


You’ll know when you’re dealing with a leader. It’s not necessarily the loudest, most visible person, but it is the person who takes responsibility for their actions; it’s the person that really listens when other talks; it’s the person who concentrates on finding a solution in a problem situation; it’s the person who uplifts others.

To move this person from behind the scenes to front-and-centre, sit them down and ask whether they’d like to take on a more responsible role. If they are keen, start small and provide ample guidance, or appoint another great leader in the business to act as mentor. 

Not all qualities will be developed equally, so also offer training in areas that need improvement. This could be in the form of in-house workshops or courses offered by career professionals.  


The benefits of a team that works well together are multiple. It leads to a more productive, cohesive, and efficient office. More gets done and staff are happier while doing it.

Blue Sky Coaching offers sound advice on how to cultivate teamwork in the office:

  • Put great leaders in charge of teams to help and guide them.
  • Make every team member feel valued.
  • Set increasingly challenging team-based goals, to encourage team members to stretch themselves and build on their successes.
  • Incorporate team-based problem solving into staff meetings.
  • Facilitate conversations, idea-sharing and team brainstorming.
  • Actively encourage teamwork on projects.
  • Discuss team dynamics on a regular basis.
  • Welcome comments, questions and suggestions from all team members.


It’s important to remember that communication includes both talking and listening, and that it refers to both verbal and written communication.

The basics of getting it right would be communication workshops or courses, with regular reminders on how to approach all forms of communication, from meetings to emails.

Management must also lead by example by being good communicators themselves. Then it becomes even more important to listen, show empathy, and ask the right questions.

Problem solving

It’s critical that problems, big or small, can be dealt with swiftly and smoothly. With great leaders and a good team spirit in place, much of the job is already done. But there are still crucial steps to take to prevent any size problem from becoming bigger. Mediator Tim Hicks recommends the following:

  • Identify the issues
  • Understand everyone’s interests
  • List the possible solutions
  • Evaluate all the options
  • Select an option or options and document what is agreed upon

Post problem evaluation is important too – look at what worked and implement it in future, but also learn from mistakes and correct them when the next crisis arises.

A final word

These guidelines are truly universal and are valid for jobs in Johannesburg, London or Pennsylvania, where NACE did their survey. Preach them and practice them, and the office you manage will stand out in 2015.




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