What’s the single most important skill that the next generation of supervisors will need? Smooth interpersonal skills? Superior communication abilities? Advanced technological competencies?
None of the above, says Harvard University professor Dr. Howard Gardner. The most important skill is the ability to organize and process information. Tomorrow’s supervisor will handle an increasing amount of data. Her success is dependent upon her ability to “synthesize,” or handle and analyze that information, Gardner claims.
Here’s a quick guideline to use as you prepare your next report:
- Pre-Synthesize. Collect data from articles, reports, Web sites and interviews. Consolidate all of your information in an easy-to-read, highly-accessible format.
- Decide. This is the most important step. Determine what’s crucial to your report and what facts can be spared. Consider what facts and figures you can verify, and make sure your information is timely.
- Evaluate. Does your data lead toward a conclusive point? Do you make a coherent argument? Look at the big picture before you continue to the details.
- Outline. Make a rough draft of your report and solicit feedback from colleagues or a trusted mentor. Ask them to find holes in your logic and evaluate the format.
- Finalize. Put everything together and deliver the final product.