workplace

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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4 Tips for Being a Lifelong Learner

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In order to become a sought-after professional in today’s job market, it’s more important than ever to be adaptable and a lifelong learner willing to gain insights and expertise throughout a career. Companies are increasingly looking for individuals with a broad set of skills who are comfortable moving across functions and teams.

How can you gain diverse skill sets and continue to develop yourself professionally, both on-the-job and in your personal life? We asked Wambui Kuria, formerly a Talent & Development Officer at Momentum Credit, a microfinance company providing structured working capital solutions to individuals, and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and now a Management Consultant at KPMG. Wambui has had quite a diverse career that has included financial auditing, entrepreneurship, recruiting and software. She describes her current role at Momentum Credit as “fifty percent human resources and fifty percent business development.”

Here are four tips from Wambui on how you can be a lifelong learner and become a more versatile employee:

1. Be comfortable outside your comfort zone to grow in your career

While she began her career as a financial auditor, Wambui quickly realized that she preferred interacting with people day-to-day in her work life. However, it was challenging to shift careers in a job market where you typically get a job based on what you studied for. In order to make a career shift, she first started scouting for jobs in sales where she could highlight transferable skills, eventually landing a role as a salesperson at a training company. “This anchored my passion for training, particularly when I would see the feedback from our clients saying how much the training changed their mindset.”

Her curiosity once again led her to move into a new role, this time in recruiting. There she found herself in meetings with software developers. She credits this experience with learning how to communicate with the tech team, in order to work effectively with the department to meet her timelines. Wambui used these experiences to push herself out of her comfort zone in order to chart a path of personal growth. “I often dare myself in different ways and praise myself when I learn something new.”

2. A lifelong learner loves and embraces technology

You don’t need to be an engineer or an IT professional to use technology to your advantage. Combining a desire to learn new things with technology can have added benefits. “I like to learn new things and I love technology. I’ve really enjoyed learning new software, creating beautiful designs on online tools such as Canva, and learning as much as I can on Google.” Being comfortable in Google Drive has paid dividends for Wambui, particularly when working with outside clients. “If you’re working across companies, everything is often shared online on Drive. This really makes it easier to work with my suppliers. I might have big files and need a lot of people to view them, so online tools are crucial.”

Being current with technology as a lifelong learner can be vital for just about any role within a company. “We all require these skills; When I started working I realized everyone needs to understand IT, as well as know how to operate smartphones. See, you might be a great lawyer, but if you don’t know how to sign contracts online, that’s dangerous to your business.”

 

lifelong learner

The team at Momentum learning from each other.

3. Share what you’ve learned at work!

Your learning can be significantly enhanced by collaborating with your peers in the office. If done effectively it can even positively affect the culture in your workplace. Encouraging others to share their knowledge can make room for a more interactive environment where everyone is utilizing their colleagues to actively share their learning across departments and functions. Treat this like a form of on-the-job training that everyone can participate in.

Consider starting a book club or a small library in your office to create a culture of reading for professional development. While at Momentum, Wambui implemented a system to reward high-performing team members by giving them books to read. “We reward people monthly depending on their performance, and one of the ways we’re trying to do that is by reducing on other incentives and give them books to read instead.” Putting growth and development first can pay huge dividends for everyone to meet their professional potential.

4. Build your online learning presence

According to Wambui, using your online presence to show your propensity for learning can improve your professional brand. “My LinkedIn has articles, things I’ve read, and it really shows that I am more than my educational background. I would say that’s a major thing that’s worked for me.” This shows employers and your network that you are passionate about your interest areas and serious about continuing to develop yourself as a lifelong learner.

If you’re like Wambui and YouTube is your “school of life”, consider posting videos to your social media channels to spark a discussion amongst your friends. A good habit to get into is to comment on articles and other resources that thought leaders in your field post to their pages. This can increase your visibility to ensure that high-level professionals know you are actively engaging in your professional development.

Becoming a lifelong learner requires commitment, energy, and curiosity. It takes a willingness to take ownership and expose yourself to new situations and environments. The above tips are just a few of many ways you can apply yourself to professionally grow and show your professional value is more than what’s on your CV.

Thanks so much to Wambui for sharing her wisdom with us! We’re proud to partner with Momentum Credit and help them build happy high-performing teams. Interested to work with MCL? they’re currently hiring for an Operations ManagerCustomer Relationship Officer, and Telesales Agents!

Related: Moving laterally to move upwards