BBN Special

2020: Necessary skills to keep you relevant in the labour market

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Edwin Eriye

2020 isn’t that far away. As a professional, have you been paying attention to the changes happening in your workplace and how they are affecting you? How has your role evolved over the past five years? Do you consider yourself skilled for the jobs of the future? Do you even know what those jobs might be?

The World Economic Forum reports that you need the ten skills listed below to thrive in 2020:

1. Complex problem solving: Having good, strong problem solving skills can make a huge difference to your career and also keep you relevant in the labour market.

Problems are at the center of what many people do at work every day. Whether you’re solving a problem for a client (internal or external), supporting those who are solving problems, or discovering new problems to solve, the problems you face can be large or small, simple or complex, and easy or difficult.

2. Critical thinking: this is the intellectual disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action, is quality is very pivotal if you want to stay relevant in the labor market next year and beyond

3. Creativity: you must be able to turn your new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.

4. People management: People management, also known as human resource management (HRM), encompasses the tasks of recruitment, management, and providing ongoing support and direction for the employees of an organization. These tasks can include the following: compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training.

When managing the people within an organization, a manager must focus on both hiring the right people and then getting the most out of these people. New personnel must provide the organization with the best talent available that meets the needs of the business.

The organization must look ahead to how a new employee can be used to their fullest. Getting the most out of an employee means a business has consistent policies and practices in place to provide its people with appropriate training and development. Employees are involved as “partners” in the business.

Probably the most important task a manager will face when dealing with the people under his direction is that of bringing out the best in them. Unlocking people’s potential is often seen as the key to any business’s success.

When an employee’s talents are not channeled correctly, their behavior can seriously compromise the success of an organization. Some of the roles that an employee who is not being used to his potential can take on are as follows: procrastinator, martyr, gossip, manipulator, backstabber, narcissist, a deer in the headlights, black hole, stonewalled, curmudgeon, bully, and predator.

5. Coordinating with others: What is ‘coordinating with others’? There is an African proverb that goes “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Fundamental to good teamwork and therefore the success of your team is the ability to coordinate successfully with one another.

This is often easier said than done and it can be traced back to the following three elements:

A. Clear communication

How can you coordinate well with others if they can’t understand you?

When speaking keep your language simple and jargon free. Speak slowly and clearly and don’t be afraid to ask your audience to confirm that they’ve understood what you mean.

This applies as much to listening as it does to speaking. Learn to listen actively and devote your whole attention to the person speaking.

Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarification.

B. Understanding each other’s personality types: We are all motivated in slightly different ways.

In order to get the best out of your colleagues, take time to observe the way they prefer to work.

For example, people’s approach to time varies considerably. Some like to be given plenty of time up front to complete the task whilst others prefer to work ‘under pressure’.

If you work with rather than against their natural tendencies then you will find that your working relationship is smoother.

C. Get organised:

You need to be organised.

It’s your responsibility to manage your own workload and ensure that it fits with the overall output of the organisation.

This also gives you the flexibility to handle problems as and when they arise.

6. Emotional intelligence: this refers to the capability of a person to manage and control his or her emotions and possess the ability to control the emotions of others as well. In other words, they can influence the emotions of other people also.

Emotional intelligence is a very important skill in leadership. It is said to have five main elements such as – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Let’s understand each one of them in detail. What is self-awareness? If you are self-aware of what you are going through, you would be in a better position to understand others, and affect people around you. It also means you are aware of your strengths as well as weaknesses. When you experience anger, hold that moment and think what made you so angry. Keeping a journal always helps.

What is self-regulation? Self-regulation is the next step wherein you think before speaking. It is an important aspect where you can regulate yourself. This will impact others in a positive way rather than in negatively. Hold yourself accountable in case you make a mistake, and try to remain calm in every situation.

What is motivation? When you are motivated to do a series of tasks you will be in a better position to influence others. Work towards your goals consistently. Show your employees how the work is done and lead by example. Even if you are faced with a challenge try and find something good about the situation.

What is empathy? When you are able to put yourself in other’s shoe and think about a situation, it is known as empathy. Every successful leads should know how to empathize with others, if you want to earn their respect.

What are social skills? The last aspect is social skills and it is one of the important aspects. Social skills are all about communicating your point of view. They are able to build a rapport with others which makes the relationship more comfortable.

7. Judgment and decision making: Decision making is a core skill that every employee will need to use at some stage in their career.

To prove you are good at decision making, you will need to make the best possible choice in the shortest time possible, as well as being able to show reasons that support your decisions. Generally the more senior the role, the more difficult these decisions become.

Many employees are forced to make complex decisions routinely as part of their job description; sometimes these decisions have to be made under intense pressure.

Therefore employers need to know that the people they recruit can take the initiative when required and make good decisions in important situations.

In certain positions (e.g. management), decision making is a fundamental aspect of the role. Consequently employers need to measure the capability of an individual to make informed decisions.

Employers tend to value decision making because it is a skill that is required in many different situations across many business areas – from everyday tasks through to more complex projects or unforeseen situations.

8. Service orientation: this is all about designing and delivering the best possible service for your customers. Some of the biggest companies in the world are ‘service’ businesses that invest enormous sums of money improving the way they interact with their customers.

Uber and AirBnB are two you’ve probably heard of and may even frequently use.

The company you currently work for will have a service function even if you’re not directly involved in it. Regardless of their industry, all companies can benefit from improving the quality of the service they provide.

As an employer and employee, having the appropriate service orientation can keep you distinctively above the charts.

9. Negotiation: Why is it that the most important skills in life aren’t taught in school?

Take negotiation for example.

If you stop and think about it, you are negotiating all the time. You negotiate daily with your spouse, children, friends and work colleagues.

It may be over time. It may be over money.

The point is, negotiation is about two or more parties reaching an agreement whereby each party feels their needs have been met satisfactorily.

More often than not, one party feels that the other has unfairly gained the upper hand. If you are on the ‘winning’ side it’s important to recognise it’s not about winning at all costs.

The best negotiators find an outcome that works for both parties. This is because long term relationships are built on trust and fairness.

The key to being a good negotiator is not only being crystal clear about your objectives but also understanding and acknowledging what matters most to your negotiation partner.

The good news is nobody is born a brilliant negotiator.

Like most things in life, mastering negotiation requires a mix of theory and plenty of practice, and once you become dexterous at it, you become paramount in the labour market.

10.Cognitive flexibility: The easiest way to think of ‘cognitive flexibility’ is having good mental agility.

This is the ability to easily switch between different tasks; to be fluid in moving from one to the other.

It is not to be confused with ‘multi-tasking’ which is a myth as the brain is not capable of carrying out multiple tasks simultaneously.

It’s an important skill to develop as the changing world of work means you are often asked to carry out a broader set of tasks than your job description implies. This obviously places an importance on your ability to switch between activities.

Someone with strong cognitive flexibility will be able to solve problems more creatively, acquire new skills more quickly and not feel overwhelmed when presented with new challenges.

Why is it important?

It opens up your employment opportunities by making you employable across a broader set of skills.

Mental agility allows you to effectively handle new and unexpected scenarios, saving you time, money and stress.

It increases your creative problem solving abilities. The more problems you solve the better your life will be.

 

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