Skills Development

workforce of the future

Workforce of the Future: 5 Skills You’ll Need to Lead

1698 900 Brenda Akinyi

How hard will it be to lead the workforce of the future?

Automation is increasingly being adopted in today’s operations and with this in place, the fear of workers being replaced has become rampant over the years. In reality, however, technology has historically created more jobs than it has eliminated.

According to research done by McKinsey Global Institute on automation, 60% of all occupations have about 30% of tasks automatable. This means that most times, humans will work alongside machines, hence the need to be tech-savvy.

In this regard, while machines are considered helpful and efficient, they have limitations on what they can accomplish independently. It follows that even with all the hype surrounding technology, organizations are consistently seeking out individuals with key soft skills which cannot be replaced by machines.

Some of the skills unique to human intelligence but necessary to succeed in the workforce of the future include:

Analytical skills:

This refers to one’s ability to investigate and find solutions to problems effectively.

These skills range from communication, creativity, critical thinking, data analysis, and research.

Good news is, you can strengthen these through routine and practice. A few tips on how to go about this include:

  • Practice daily — Do brain exercises, read more books to expand your view of the world. Take a course online to build on skills such as excel or data analytics. www.edx.org is an excellent website with tons of courses.
  • Break your routines — Try a different way of doing the same thing, so you don’t find yourself stuck in a rut.
  • Watch someone else solve a problem — Take notes as you observe and practice the new tricks later!
  • Think through your decisions — Weigh the pros and cons of your choices. Ask for expert opinion or do some research to determine your best option.

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills:

This includes a collection of traits and abilities that emphasize a logical approach to tackling new ideas, sorting information and discovering creative solutions in the workforce of the future.

Organizations are increasingly in need of individuals who can effectively identify the problems that exist and come up with ways the organization can go about solving these problems. This is also a bonus to your relationships.

Learn how you can build this skill set with these techniques and tricks from Lionel Valdellon.

Data skills:

With the continuous growth of internet usage, organizations now acquire a lot of data from their customers. They face the burden of finding ways in which they can interpret the information to make sound business decisions.

Consequently, individuals with the ability to accurately infer patterns, draw conclusions and make recommendations based on data, are increasingly valuable in the workforce of the future.

Cognitive flexibility:

Your ability to adapt to change.

Given these ever-changing times, organizations are consistently challenged to adapt to new trends in business. Like any skill, one can sharpen this by putting your brain to work to learn new skills at every turn. We gain massive rewards by ensuring that we remain open to change.

People management:

How do you collaborate with others? Are you open to learning from those around you regardless of the difference in roles?

Just as people execute ideas and plans, machines are operated by people. Organizations are keen to hire and retain individuals who work well within the team and can effectively actualize their vision. A few tips on how you can develop this skill set in the workforce of the future:

  • Practice active listening
  • Acknowledge the expertise of others
  • Control your emotions
  • Practice empathy
  • Cultivate a positive outlook
  • Have a genuine interest in your colleagues
  • Maintain your relationships and networks — Don’t let “Out of sight, out of mind” ruin relationships you’ve cultivated over the years

In conclusion, it is clear that we all need to be life-long learners, as work today is less predictable and less structured than it used to be. What you know today may not be relevant in the workforce of the future. Therefore, hone your creative, human and persuasion skills. In addition to this, open yourself up to new experiences and explore the space that sits outside of your comfort zone starting today.

Photo by Sean Foley on Unsplash

Related Article: The Future of Work: Best of Times and/or Worst of Times?

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Moving laterally to move upwards

1351 900 Brenda Akinyi

Are career paths ladders or lattices? When we think about promotions and progression in our careers, we often expect this to come in terms of vertical moves. However, before turning down an opportunity for moving laterally (meaning a move within your own company or to a new organization with similar pay and responsibility level) what do you need to consider?

We hosted Sales, Marketing and Advertising professionals for a networking event in Nairobi. We had several leaders in these fields  –Christopher Madison, CEO at Dentsu Aegis, Elizabeth Karani, Country Manager at Beauty Click and Charles Kariuki, Global Sales Manager at Ecozoom — shared some insights on how moving laterally across positions could eventually lead to one climbing up the ladder.

moving laterally
Our panelists (from right): Christopher Madison, Elizabeth Karani, Charles Kariuki and our East Africa MD Ariane Fisher moderating the session

They emphasised the need to consider what you stand to gain by making this horizontal move. Here are a few of their main tips:

Forget titles!

Chris reiterated that it is far more important to focus on who you will become rather than what your title will be. Will you get an opportunity to expand your skills? e.g. as a communicator, advertiser, analyst or recruiter?

Charles also brought up the compensation aspect . We sometimes focus on the fact that moving laterally will give us a similar level of earnings that we overlook other complimentary benefits. This might be in the form of more flexible hours; less travel required a more inspiring leadership team or a different team culture.

moving laterally
Brief networking session between Elizabeth and some of the attendees

What do you stand to learn?

According to Elizabeth, a horizontal move presents an opportunity to learn new skills. Stay curious and know what you like and want. Make your experiences count and be intentional about what you want to accomplish.

Learning new skills will help you stay fresh and current and helps you remain competitive. A lateral move will also give you the opportunity to understand a different facet of the organization and give you more visibility with new team members and managers. This could eventually lead to a promotion when opportunities arise.

Have an end goal in mind

Charles stressed the importance of having the end-result in mind while being flexible in your methods. “What counts is you’re making yourself better where you are,” he said. Seek out ways in which you will increase your achievements by broadening your knowledge base and trying out new things.

One practical way of doing this is educating yourself on where you need to be at the next level, in terms of skill and experience. Chris suggested that you can do this by looking at job descriptions of the positions you want. Compare with where you are at the moment and start filling in the gaps in skills that you may not currently possess.

“Linkedin is a great tool to learn about these gaps,” Elizabeth suggested.

Chris Madison interacting with some of the attendees after the panel discussion

“Keeping your financial and life goals in mind, helps you to start making better decisions on where you should be and how fast you want to get there,” said Chris. “You can then do the math and push yourself harder,” he added.

In conclusion, having your goals in mind, looking beyond the titles and the salary aspect of shifting positions will often make the path towards making that final decision a bit clearer.

Next steps:

Before making the move, ask yourself these questions to decide on your next course of action:

  • What are my career goals?
  • What are my personal and financial goals?
  • What do I stand to learn in this new position?
  • Besides a higher salary, what other benefits am I looking for?
  • Does this move offer the possibility of a vertical progression?

Have you made a lateral move that has propelled your career upwards? We’d love to hear from you, do let us know in the comment section what you learnt and how the experience shaped your career.

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