How To Improve Business Knowledge – For example, it is essential for business owners that all members of their organizations master skills such as critical thinking, time management, and effective communication in order to ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly and business goals are reached.
Here’s an overview of why it’s important to improve your business skills and the top ten priorities to advance your career.
How To Improve Business Knowledge
A foundation in business not only gives you more confidence in the workplace but also opens the door to many career opportunities. For those who broadened their knowledge by taking a Harvard Business School course, the experience yielded results such as:
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Here are ten business skills you should develop if you want to achieve similar goals in your career.
Basic knowledge of economics can be useful in any industry. In addition to gaining an in-depth understanding of pricing strategies and market demand, studying economics can provide you with the tools to make key decisions within your organization.
For former CORE participant Nicholas Greco, who works as an educator and healthcare administrator, the lessons he learned in Economics for Managers contributed to his company’s investment in solar energy.
“I knew that investing in solar was a great opportunity, but the concept of interest-to-sell (WTS) helped me understand and understand why,” says Greco. “As a result of additional incentives from the city program and group purchasing power, electrical contractors were willing to sell solar energy systems at much lower prices than usual, thereby increasing our customers’ profits. By explaining WTS, I was able to convince the owner to move forward with this project.”
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Research shows that a growing number of companies—including Microsoft, Uber, and Blue Apron—are using analytics to drive growth and improve their services and operations.
According to LinkedIn, analytical thinking is one of the most sought-after hard skills in today’s job market. Learning how to summarize data sets, identify trends, and test hypotheses can give you an analytical framework for solving complex business problems and help you make informed decisions that benefit your organization.
“Using data analytics is a very effective way to make an impact in an organization,” says Jan Hammond, an HBS professor who teaches business analytics. “If you can walk into a meeting and other people have opinions, but you have data to back up your arguments and recommendations, you become influential.”
Even if you’re not in a number-focused role, math knowledge can be useful in your career. While it may seem like an intimidating subject, it’s much more approachable than you might think.
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Concepts like cash flow and profitability are important for understanding your company’s performance and potential, but knowing how to read and interpret financial statements is critical to communicating financial results.
Pankaj Prashant, an engineer who took CORE, said the principles he learned in financial accounting helped him build on his technical background and grow his career.
“I monitor my company’s annual reports, and the accounting I learned helps me understand where the business is going in the future,” says Prashant. “I’ve also been tracking a few other companies for investment purposes, and I’ve found that with my improved knowledge of a company’s financials, I can make more informed decisions.”
Whether you’re just starting out on your professional journey or working your way up the ranks, it pays to be an effective negotiator. According to a report published by the World Economic Forum, negotiation is identified as one of the 10 skills needed to develop the workforce of the future.
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Honing your negotiation skills will not only help you maintain value for your company at the bargaining table, but it will also help you when you’re advocating for a higher starting salary or a raise for yourself.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to crafting a successful negotiation strategy. The key, says HBS professor Mike Wheeler, who teaches Negotiation Masters, is to be open to improvement and plan to think on your feet.
“But even if you see yourself as a negotiator, most people you meet may have a somewhat different style,” says Wheeler. “So you have to be efficient to be successful. It means contorting yourself to deploy different skills depending on the situation and who you’re dealing with.”
Strong managerial skills are associated with organizational performance. A Gallup study found that managers make up 70 percent of the difference between employees, pointing to the need for companies to develop leaders who drive team productivity and morale.
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For experienced and aspiring managers, it’s important to know how to lead meetings and communicate organizational change. Equally important is recognizing the common missteps team leaders make.
For Monica Higgins, a public relations account director, taking the Essentials of Management course was a way for her to enhance her management knowledge and develop a new perspective on her work.
“I’m more aware of looking at things through a bigger lens, from different perspectives,” says Higgins. “I’ve always been a fan of asking thoughtful, educated questions—as opposed to making statements—and now I’m a big fan of playing devil’s advocate.”
Whether you hold a management position or not, leadership skills are critical to workplace success. Although some people think that leadership and management are one and the same, there are differences between the two. Leadership focuses on executing the process, while leadership focuses on the people and vision that lead the change.
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In addition to developing leadership skills, developing leadership skills can be beneficial in any career. From learning to stay calm under stress to developing your own leadership style, these skills will help you understand how to bring your vision to life and position your team for success.
In any business environment, professionals rely on communication to coordinate efforts and achieve organizational goals. Ineffective communication—or lack of communication—can lead to disaster.
Along with developing your skills, a major contributor to success is understanding and adapting to the communication styles of others. Other key communication skills include active listening, empathy, and reading body language.
Emotional intelligence is another important business skill, and research shows that it is a leading indicator of performance in the workplace. According to TalentSmart research, 90 percent of high performers have high emotional intelligence.
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Emotional intelligence is typically divided into four concepts: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. In short, this ability refers to your ability to understand your emotions and to recognize and affect others.
Regardless of your industry or niche, gaining an understanding of yourself and the people around you can give you more control over your relationships and help you achieve goals more effectively.
All professionals need strong decision-making skills to navigate complex workplace challenges. Especially for those who work in business or management, the need for such skills is even greater.
Deciding how to allocate resources, which employees comprise the team, and how to implement new organizational initiatives are all decisions that require careful consideration. With the increasing number of tools and resources used to capture data, managers can leverage valuable insights to make data-driven decisions and drive better results.
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Whether you need ideas or advice on a particular challenge or are preparing for a career change, the people who make up your professional network can be valuable resources.
Be open to opportunities to leverage your network, step out of your comfort zone, and build new relationships. Once you’ve developed your network, it’s important to maintain the connections you’ve made and find new ways to expand your web of connections.
The value of business skills cannot be overstated if you plan to advance your career. In addition to hard skills (such as financial accounting and understanding of economics), you will need soft skills (such as emotional intelligence and leadership) as your organization grows.
No matter your industry, knowledge of important business concepts can help you better understand your organization’s performance and provide you with the tools you need to drive initiatives and guide strategic decision-making.
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Want to take your career to the next level? Explore our Business Essentials courses and download our eBook on Enhancing Your Career with Essential Business Skills to learn how your knowledge can help you make an impact in your organization and stay competitive in the job market.
Matt Gavin is a member of the Marketing Group at Harvard Business School. Before returning to his native Massachusetts and joining HBS, he lived in North Carolina, where he held roles in news and content marketing. He has experience in video production and previously worked on several documentaries for Boston PBS station WGBH. In his spare time, he enjoys running, exploring New England, and spending time with his family. SHIFT’s eLearning Blog Our blog provides best practices, tips, and inspiration for corporate training, learning design, eLearning, and mLearning. Click here to visit the Spanish blog
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As someone who is concerned about the prosperity of your business, you want your employees to be able to apply the knowledge gained from the training programs.
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