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9 competences you need in your workforce today and tomorrow

If you are looking to hire someone to join your company or to develop existing people who will regularly bring added-value (in the long-term), you need to think about more than technical or functional skills. In my opinion, the 9 following competences are absolutely key to sustainable success in today and tomorrow’s business environment…

 

THE CONSTANT LEARNER

It has been said for decades that the only constant is change. Clearly that hasn’t changed. If we cannot be sure about what tomorrow looks like, then the following three competences are important:

  • Open-mindedness is the ability to receive and treat new information without overbearing prejudice. Many of us spend the majority of our waking lives on autopilot, doing things just like we did yesterday, set in our ways and thoughts. Open-minded people are able to put their own convictions on hold and see things differently in order to deal with new ideas. They are conscious of their own habits and convictions, they listen well and they tend not to mix up their own perception with reality.
  • Self-learning is the ability to define, follow-up, deliver and evaluate learning goals in an autonomous way. Today’s workers must be able to acquire and assimilate knowledge, learn new skills and question their own attitude without the necessary intervention of a learning department or teacher. Specific skills here include goal-setting, self-coaching and identifying infinite learning opportunities.
  • Problem-solving skills and scientific reasoning are required in order to figure things out where no answer currently exists. Workers must have the ability to correctly assess and define a problem. They must have a minimum of business acumen and creativity to propose multiple hypotheses and a sufficient scientific process to create “experiments” that will allow them to isolate, test and understand problem causes and potential solutions.

 

FUNCTIONING WELL IN TODAY’S UBER-SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

In today’s working environment (the “New World of Work”) the possibilities are endless. We can gather and share information from and to everywhere in a click. We have unprecedented access to other people. We are mobile within markets and across functional and geographical lines. The following three competences are all about getting and giving the best in that environment:

  • Personal Knowledge Management is a collection of processes that a person uses to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his or her daily activities. Faced with the enormous noise of information coming in from everywhere in multiple formats, today’s workers need to be able to make sense of it all and put the noise to effective use for herself and others, today and in the future.
  • Networking skills allow workers to effectively analyse, evaluate and improve their own networks in order to receive and give more value. With a clear long-term mission and good social skills, effective networkers can assess, create and maintain well-functioning networks. They know the right people (who know the right people..) and can establish trusting useful contacts over a variety of face-to-face and virtual platforms in order to achieve their goals.
  • Commercial communication and personal branding. As businesses become more “intrapreneurial” and workers get involved in more cross-functional, multinational projects, the ability to understand the situation, values and needs of other people and position oneself and one’s work “commercially” in terms of benefits is key to being accepted and being useful. No-one can sit back and say that “sales” is for someone else. As Daniel Pink has said, to sell is human and we’re all doing it, whether we know it or not. The product/service branding approach of matching key messages to target audiences can today be equally well applied to individuals – effective personal branding helps other people to see your own value more easily.

 

BRINGING VALUE TO THE BUSINESS

A constant learner who is able to function well in an uber-social environment is not worth anything if he doesn’t really understand how business is happening and what can be done to achieve goals. He needs three additional competences:

  • Business acumen or business intelligence is the first foundation for adding value to an organisation. In the past, only the management needed to worry about the universal drivers of cash, profit, growth, people and assets; everyone else could “just” focus on his job. But as environments, people, projects and processes change rapidly, there is more need for workers who truly understand their own work and how it influences the bottom-line and delivers on company strategy. If you don’t understand the core factors that make your business successful, you will not be able to identify opportunities, solve problems or articulate solutions that bring any value.
  • Strategic thinking is the ability to identify priorities based on current position in relationship to the end-goal. Technical or tactical experts tend to have a good grasp on which is the best way to achieve a certain action, but strategic thinkers more easily identify those actual actions which really need to be taken at this time. Although top-management may be responsible for defining the company strategy, each individual needs himself to be able to regularly and effectively assess their own position (in terms of S/W/O/T etc..) and look for recurring themes and priorities. In this way, they can strategically choose relevant action and next concrete steps.
  • Proactivity is the ability to stop, think and choose, rather than simply reacting to circumstance. A close-cousin of both strategic-thinking, open-mindedness and problem-solving ability, proactivity requires self-knowledge and a specific attitude, in addition to specific knowledge of the environment and mission. Faced with unacceptable results, the proactively-reactive person will assess the situation and processes/programs in order to create change which he or she believes he can orchestrate. And the truly proactive person will “in advance” take the initiative to assess risks to the mission and think about how to do things differently and how to have a maximum impact.

 

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Ken Robinson on your element, education and unique extraordinary life

“One of the most influential thinkers in creativity today” says FAST Company
“Knight of the royal realm” says the Queen of England
“Keynote speaker to kick off the ICE” says ASTD2013

According to Ken Robinson, it is early. Too early. Having spent the night trying to remember how to sleep, he is not sure it’s actually a pleasure to be at ASTD2013 today. But he is here. And he’s got a message to share.

Referring to the chainsaw juggling duo The Passing Zone who introduced Tony Bingham’s speech this morning, Sir Ken reminds us that we each have deep talents and you have to work to find them. When The Passing Zone were at school, neither of them had an idea that they would spend the rest of their lives juggling. They didn’t get taught it at school and they would never have said it would be their future.

The Passing Zone love what they do. They have passion. What is your passion? Sir Robinson says that every person IS something. Every person has talent that speaks to them, that animates them. When we find that something, we will never work again. We will do what we love and get paid for it. It will change everything.

But if you want to discover that passion and talent, you have to create the right environments. He adds that many organisations do not do this. Schools neither.

The school system created during the industrial revolution is supposed to get everyone learning the same things in the same way. As Robinson said in his famous TED talk, the school system was not designed to help a young child discover the joy of juggling, or to feel the wonder of balancing accounts. Or to help a top-class concert pianist realise that, in fact, she wants to be an editor.

Ken Robinson tells us that we are facing an education and happiness crisis. In the US, more money is spent on education (per head) than any other country and class sizes are smaller. Yet more people drop out than anywhere else and less people graduate. And if that wasn’t worrying enough, Robinson also tells us that in the US more drugs are sold for depression and psychological issues than anything else. People are unhappy. And people NEED to be happy.

Why is this? Why are we not making it through school and coming out awesomely happy, working in line with our passion and talents? What can we do about it?

TWO THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND TO FIND YOUR ELEMENT

Firstly, Ken Robinson wants to remind us that we are unique. Since the beginning of time, there have probably been around 100 billion people on Earth. And they have all been different. No-one on Earth has ever had the same life you are leading right now. And never will. As the Dalai Lama said to Ken Robinson at a recent Vancouver conference on world peace through inner-peace: “The fact that you are alive at all is a miracle. So what are you going to do with it?”

Secondly, you have to realise that you are responsible for making your own life. You are given life …but you are not given your CV when you are born. Your own story, successful or not, is a result of your own talent, personal disposition and circumstance. Ken Robinson underlines the importance of this last point and says that we need to create circumstances in which people can flourish, discover their talents and make them grow. We can all be creative, we can all do something special and people need to be given opportunities to explore.

As the folks at the BlueMan Group say “If ordinary people can find their element, extraordinary things can happen.”

Think about it.

DANs closing questions:

  • If you are in learning and development, what can you do to create learning environments that stimulate real creativity and drive people to flourish and bring out their element?
  • If you are a parent, how you do the same for your children?
  • And if you are not awesomely happy yourself doing what brings you strength, fulfilling your own personal quest and working in line with your own personal element, what are you going to do about it?
  • ps Check out my Daily Dallas Weather Reports on http://www.youtube.com/dansteerchannel

    Thanks for reading.
    Please come to session TU306 and share this article.
    D

    Neil Young on leadership, creativity, performance and people styles

    I’ve been watching the special features of Jonathan Demme’s excellent capturing of Neil Young in”Heart of Gold”. These words from Neil reminded me of the ASTD2012 session of John Kao on innovation and jazz improvisation …and also got me thinking about leadership skills, changing environments, the way we manage people, creativity, the differences between people etc… I won’t make an attempt to deconstruct each of Neil Young’s sentences. Just read and see for yourself….

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    “These are songs that I’ve never performed before, so I have to remember all the words and keep on top of the band playing all the parts.

    Remember, these are people that live in the moment. I mean, that’s why I play with these people. They’re not “reproducers”. They are creative people and creative musicians. They are not really supposed to do the same thing every time. So you have to give them room to be creative and still perform the same song in a way that’s reminiscent of the original record, kind of representative of the arrangement that we did on the record.

    Some of the musicians are better at reproducing their parts within a framework and doing it very freely and feeling very good about them. Others can never do the same thing twice.

    So you have to get them all together and that’s what happens… …you’ve got one shot… ..as soon as you start the songs you have to feel second nature about the song.. ..and that’s not easy to do with a song that you’ve never played before.. …it’s all new at that point.

    These are all first time performances.”

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