Previous Page An Issue 69.
The most important quality in an employee is not specific knowledge or technical competence. Instead it is the ability to work well with other employees. Question
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading. Analysis
Whether the ability to work with others is more important than specific knowledge and technical competence depends on the specific job as well as the complexity of the job's technical aspects. In general, however, social skills are more critical than technical competence to the ultimate success of an organizational unit.
Admittedly, some level of technical competence and specific knowledge is needed to perform any job. Without some knowledge of the systems, procedures and vocabulary used in one's department or division, an employee cannot communicate effectively with peers or contribute meaningfully to team goals. By the same token, however, nearly every job - even those in which technical ability would seem to be of paramount importance - calls for some skill in working with other employees. Computer programmers, for example, work in teams to develop products according to agreed - upon specifications and timelines. Scientists and researchers must collaborate to establish common goals and to coordinate efforts. Even teachers who are autonomous in the classroom must serve on committees and coordinate activities with administrators and other teachers.
Moreover, employees can generally learn technical skills and gain specific knowledge through on-the-job training and continuing education (depending on the complexity of the skills involved). Social skills, on the other hand, are more innate and not easily learned. They are, therefore, requisite skills that employees must possess at the outset if the organizational unit is to succeed.
In sum, specific knowledge does admittedly play a more critical role than social skills in some highly technical jobs. Nevertheless the ability to work well with other employees is ultimately more important, since all jobs require this ability and since it is more difficult to learn social skills on the job.