Upskilling: Four Simple Steps Toward Upgrading Your Work

by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE

In a rapidly changing environment, it’s no surprise that new “buzzwords” occasionally pop up on your bingo card. One of recent example is upskilling. At first glance, the definition seems obvious, but it means more than you might think—especially after our shared ordeal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, we all need to take the time to upskill and refresh our work habits, which the World Economic Forum predicts will raise the global GDP by up to $6.5 trillion by 2030.

Upskilling involves taking your work to the next level, to better fit your job’s current and future needs. It’s not good enough to just tread water. You must consistently work to advance your career, if only to keep pace with change. The white-collar professional never really stops learning. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re advancing as you should.

  1. Keep working on your people skills. Soft skills like emotional intelligence (EQ), willing cooperation, and tact have always had a place in our field. As we evolve more toward remote and hybrid work environments, these will be more important than ever for camaraderie and a sense of teamwork.
  1. Hone your communications skills. Again, this skill has always been important, but has become increasingly essential as the workplace evolves. On a conference call, and even to some extent on a videoconference, you don’t always have the social cues that let other people pick up on the nuances of your messages, and vice versa. You certainly don’t with email or IMs, so take some time to learn how to state your opinion or the facts simply and clearly, whether verbally or in writing. This will cut down on misunderstandings, bottlenecks, and roadblocks.
  1. Read, read, read. It’s especially important to read widely in your field, so you can keep up with new developments and make contributions to your organization. But also read widely in other fields, including fiction and current events. Creative applications may help you handle a tough problem at work, and planting ideas in your subconscious mind can result in new, profitable concepts as the ideas cross-fertilize. 
  1. Keep educating yourself. Whether it’s getting a new license or certification, taking a continuing education class, or learning the latest programming language, don’t hesitate to do it. I joined a forum and learned how to start and run a nonprofit. It may involve pushing yourself out of your comfort zone or paying for it yourself, but if it will advance your career, it can be worth the cost and effort. 

Biting the Bullet

Upskilling is vital unless you want your career to stall. And frankly, it mostly consists of simple things you should do anyway. Some, like training, may be covered by your organization, and some you can do during downtime and breaks, like keeping up with your reading. Upskilling doesn’t have to be hard; you just need to keep at it and not get complacent. What can you do to shake things up?

© 2022 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored eight books, including FASTER TOGETHER: Accelerating Your Team’s Productivity (Berrett-Koehler 2018). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and a member of its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at an upcoming meeting or event, call 303-471-7401 or contact us online.




  1. I’m very delighted to read this content. Thanks!