Hailed as the world’s leading business strategist, award-winning professional speaker Scott Steinberg is among today’s best-known trends experts and futurists, and the bestselling author of “Think Like a Futurist;” “Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty;” and “Millennial Marketing: Bridging the Generation Gap.” He is also the president and CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships. His website is FuturistsSpeakers.com.
The world of business continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, with half of all S&P 500 companies expected to be replaced within the next decade. Moreover, the first place that organizations need to adapt if they want to survive lies in the area of evolving workplace skills and upskilling their workforce, according to HR People + Strategy. Clearly, those talents which bring enterprises success in tomorrow’s working world will be greatly different than those which have served them in the past. Following, you’ll find seven new skills that every business should be adding to its employee learning and development plan if it wants to succeed in an age of constant change; and for that matter, the benefits of upskilling employees in this manner, as well as why it pays to be making this retraining a priority.
Creativity — Shh, don’t tell: Innovation is just another word for improvisation. Likewise, it’s often a matter of perspective, as simple shifts in business or communications strategy can prove every bit as powerful as game-changing breakthroughs at driving positive results for your organization. Don’t have the time or cash to think three to five years ahead into the future, or invest heavily in giving your business plan a huge overhaul? No worries: You can succeed by upskilling the workforce and teaching employees to think differently here and now instead. Train them to ask themselves questions like: What other possible uses for our products and services exist? How can we repackage or represent existing solutions to better appeal to new audiences? Are there ways we could be doing in a single step what’s currently taking us several? You may be surprised at just how quickly simple exercises such as these can send profits soaring.
Communications — Wondering how to most effectively upskill team members? Take a tip from the founders of technology giant Google, who once created a scientific method to analyze nearly every HR- and job-related decision that the company had made in order to see what made its top-performing employees so successful. Surprisingly, what they discovered was that technical skills such as an individual’s ability to manipulate software and create cutting-edge applications weren’t what gave these executives an edge. Rather, it was soft skills such as the ability to effectively communicate with co-workers and empathize with others that were likelier to determine who would be an effective leader in the end. Especially worth noting if you’re an employer: STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) capabilities ranked among the least important determinants of success to be found amongst top employees. High emotional intelligence (EQ) proved a better predictor of superior on-the-job performance instead. Keeping this in mind, training workers to be strong communicators is every bit as crucial to finding success in tomorrow’s working world as training them in today’s most cutting-edge software engineering techniques or management theories.
Multi-Tasking — According to researchers at IBM, constant change is the new normal in the workplace, and unpredictability is the only thing we can predict. Noting this, colleagues’ efforts will only be further stretched between more tasks and projects in coming years, and their attention split increasingly thin. As a result, teaching workers how to effectively juggle a multitude of responsibilities and deadlines will become a growingly important fact to add to employee learning and development plans going forward. Given that they’ll continue to be pulled in multiple directions in coming years, and with greater frequency, it’s vital that you train associates to effectively manage multiple tasks, and perform work efficiently. Likewise, you’ll also want to teach them how to better relieve stress, and the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Agility — Numerous businesses can now go from conceptualizing to executing a new idea in under 90 days, a process which can also take under 30 days for many startups. That’s because these organizations understand that the quicker you can deploy a new idea, the faster you can get feedback from the marketplace — and more rapidly you can use these insights to enhance business strategy. That’s why it’s vital to also teach employees the importance of adopting a minimum viable product (MVP) mindset, wherein they use the least time and resources possible to create and test working prototypes. The faster you can bring concepts to life and determine how audiences react to them, and the more rapidly you can translate these learnings into action, the more successful you’ll be.
Listening — Want to rapidly create positive change in your organization, and consistently find ways to stay ahead of the curve? Train your team to grow bigger ears. Studies repeatedly show that customers are the single best source where organizations get successful and innovative new ideas, and everyday employees are often the most informed audience in any business. Unfortunately, nearly half of all businesses aren’t even surveying or polling clients, let alone collecting actionable information from customer service reps, salespeople and other frontline leaders. Bearing this in mind, teach your people to keep their antennae peeled for incoming signals from the marketplace at every turn. The better you become at hearing them, the better off your business will be.
Empathy — It’s also important to train workers to be more empathetic if you want them to stay better attuned to any operating environment and respond rapidly and productively to changes within it. That’s because doing so frequently requires us to relate to the needs of customers of co-workers; engage with these individuals; and find ways to inspire them to take positive action at every turn. Similarly, boasting strong emotional intelligence is also key to leading people and helping guide them past setbacks, and through times of great uncertainty and upheaval. So if you want workers to be successful leaders, teach them to be more empathetic — it’ll make them more open-minded, flexible and resilient in the end.
Leadership — Trade secret: In a world of new and novel problems, it pays to teach your people to be capable of applying both logic and creativity to solving any given challenge. What’s more, in increasingly uncertain business environments, it’s also vital to train them to make firm decisions, even in the absence of perfect information. This can be done by introducing them to the concept of strong, but weakly held opinions — wherein you do your homework and make the best choice given current insights, but remain open to revising plans as more feedback is gained. Likewise, it’s also important to underscore the importance of keeping a cool head under duress, and acting thoughtfully, even amidst ongoing disruption. While leaders can’t predict every twist or turn the marketplace will take, they always have the ability to pivot action plans to better steer organizations toward success — and the ability to course-correct and revise those plans further as scenarios continue to develop. C&IT