On a webinar recently, I heard 5 words that immediately impacted me. Such was the impact that I went straight to my message board and posted them.
“Use this time for growth.”
The pandemic has wreaked all kinds of havoc with business plans. Some companies, unfortunately, face closure. Still others struggle and will, I hope, be able to limp their way through this challenging time. Some fortunate companies are thriving during this time (Fintech industry, Amazon – of course, and the like). Regardless of the situation, all companies, and the employees who work in them, are having to significantly change the way they work.
There is an opportunity to come back from the pandemic better than we were before.
Now is the ideal time to invest in learning new skills, particularly soft skills. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling to have the required skills for the future.
Some companies are hiring now, some will be hiring in the future. All will need people who possess desired soft skills (or, as I prefer to call them, Power Skills!). Here’s an example of the skills they’ll seek:
· Analytical thinking
Critical thinking skills are required for coming up with innovative solutions to complex problems. This ability to process complex information is the first step to analyzing the flow of critical information.
Regardless of your position within a company, the ability to exchange information and meaning between people is vital. This includes not only the words you use, but also tone of voice, body language and – perhaps the key communication skill – listening.
We’re seeing this play out now, as companies pivot their businesses to survive the pandemic. We’ll see this in the future as new products, technologies, and ways of working are required. People who can come up with new and innovative ideas, along with ways of working with them, will be highly desired.
· Emotional Intelligence
Being aware of your own emotions, as well as those of others, is something that is uniquely human. The ability to connect with other humans will be highly in demand. (Already is.)
· Problem-solving and Decision Making
Machines can process a lot of data but recognizing the broader implications to the business and those who work in it falls to people. Higher-level decision making will belong to humans, while machines will take over menial and mundane tasks.
So often people are elevated into the role of leading others without any training or guidance. Yet inspiring and engaging others to do great work are necessary for the workforce. People with these skills are needed to help those who report to them tackle problems and find solutions.
· Valuing Diversity and Inclusion
There is ample reason to seek out diversity in the workplace. When people from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, cultures, genders, and ages come together on a team, they bring with them fresh perspectives, which can lead to better problem-solving and increased productivity.
· Change Acceptance and Agility
The pandemic has taught us our brains have to be flexible. Change has a way of making its presence known, and we must be prepared to bend and flex with it. Workers will have to be agile and embrace change (even if they don’t especially like it). An essential skill moving forward will be the ability to see change for the opportunities it presents for growth and innovation, rather than as a burden.
By 2030, the demand for these Power Skills will grow across all industries. The current challenges have already caused massive changes in workplaces that have demanded more human, soft skills from leaders, especially managers.
Working from home has become a necessity for many. Technology has made it possible to not only work from home, but to be very productive doing so. For that reason, many companies have decided to extend their work from home policies to the end of the year, and some are making it a permanent option for their staff. This brings with it a set of challenges:
· Workaholism and Burnout
· Loneliness and isolation
· Threat to the distinction between work and home life
· Need for face-to-face interaction
· “Zoom” fatigue
· Uncertainty over the future
And what of the challenges faced by front-line staff at this time? They face uncertainty, fear for their health and safety, financial insecurity, governmental guidelines and restrictions, fatigue and burnout, and demanding customers who are likely even worse than pre-pandemic in their expectations.
Managers are required to handle all those issues they worked on before and are now tasked with the challenges above. Most are asked to do this without any training. Research done by Gallup indicates that only 10% of managers have the natural talent to manage a team. So training is exactly what they need!
Soft skills (Power Skills) are hard to hire for, hard to find in the workplace, and even harder to teach. At a time like this, it’s easy to put off developing these skills and move the training budget to other line items. However, development of these skills is exactly what is needed for the company to ride out the pandemic and come out strong on the other side. And companies like mine will help them do it! Wise leaders will recognize their people need help and will find the resources to teach them.
In other words, they will find a way to use this time for growth for their people.
Let me help develop your managers. My company teaches soft skills for those who lead others.