5 Skills for the Decade Ahead

In this article, we identify 5 valuable skills for the decade ahead.

They are: 

  1. Emotional intelligence 
  2. Creativity 
  3. Adaptability 
  4. Understanding self-worth 
  5. Tech-readiness 

1 Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) has been tipped by the World Economic Forum to be one of the most in-demand skills in 2020.

 Genos International, a leading provider of EI assessments and development programs, defines emotional intelligence as: 

“A set of skills that help us better perceive, understand and manage emotions in ourselves and in others. Collectively they help us make intelligent responses to, and use of, emotions. Everyone, no matter what job function, has interactions with other people. Your capacity to understand your emotions, to be aware of them and how they impact the way you behave and relate to others, will improve your ‘people‘ skills and help you ultimately be more satisfied and successful.”  

Emotions have a governing impact on our behavior, making their management (and management of the factors which impact them) vital. Appropriate emotion management allows for better, more meaningful relationships in the workplace along with more rational, positive and productive actions in day-to-day activities. Some of the key skills underpinned by emotional intelligence include creativity, people management and stress management. 

Given the importance of EI, it is surprising how significant the skills gap is in this area. 

The literature around EI is extensive. One contributor, psychologist Daniel Goleman, suggests EI is comprised of 5 key elements: 

  1. Self-awareness 
  2. Self-regulation 
  3. Motivation 
  4. Empathy 
  5. Social skills 

The development of these elements will be key to business skill development this decade. 

2 Creativity

The use of the word ‘creativity’ is often misunderstood and overused. To gain a better understanding of what creativity is, it should be considered in relation to two overarching principles: 

  • Relevancy 
  • Novelty 

Creativity in relation to relevancy refers to the ability to solve an issue. Creativity is a problem-solving skill, and if there is no relevancy to the creative solution, then it cannot be considered a solution. 

Creativity in relation to novelty is a more difficult concept to grasp. It refers to the ability to solve a problem in a novel way by doing something unexpected or never done before. Copying a creative solution is not novel, and as a result, not creative. 

A creative workforce can solve problems. This aids organizational progress and growth. With the impact of automation and artificial intelligence, roles which do not require this creative element can be replaced more easily, adding to the importance of this skill. 

3 Adaptability

Adaptability within the workforce refers to an individual’s capacity to handle change to better align with organizational direction. 

Heavily related to creativity; adaptability requires an employee devise and execute an appropriate solution when faced with unexpected challenges. The ability to adapt opens an employee’s career options and allows contribution toward projects and goals not typically associated with their role. This competency is highly sought after by today’s recruiting and HR professionals as it shows a candidate can adapt to new technology trends and ever-changing customer needs. Evidence of this can be seen through the buy-in of employers around flexible/rotation of roles as against single positions. 

When it comes to developing adaptability, roberthalf.co.uk list 4 ways an employee can become a more flexible worker: 

  • Learn from others 
  • Find positivity in potentially negative projects/situations 
  • Be willing to make mistakes 
  • Ask questions 

Integrating these techniques with the goal of becoming a more flexible, adaptable worker can reap valuable rewards for an individual, such as : 

  • Finding enjoyment in challenging situations 
  • Better leadership skills 
  • Increased relevancy in the workplace 

4 Understanding Self-Worth

A worker’s ability to understand their own worth is becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace. 

While a relatively simple concept, if an employee has a better understanding of their worth and contribution to a department/organization, they are more likely to be effective in their role as a result of increased focus and confidence. 

For an employee to understand their worth, they should be capable of breaking their role down into three ‘value areas’ and answering three questions: 

These are: 

1 What do I do well?

What are the skills possessed by the employee? What are their strengths?

2 Who do I help?

What specific stakeholders benefit as a result of the skills/strengths of the employee?

3 What value do I bring?

How does the employee help the organization? Increased revenue? Improved productivity?

5 Tech-Readiness

The 4th industrial revolution is bringing together technology trends and transforming business as a result. Given this, tech-savviness is becoming increasingly sought after. 

Without the ability to adapt and integrate new technologies into day-to-day activities,  workers will find it difficult to keep up with working trends and eventually, efficiency will lag. 

Some of the technologies employees need to stay up-to-date with include: 

  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Big data 
  • Extended reality 
  • Robotics 
  • The internet of things 
  • 3d printing 
  • Blockchain 

Keeping up with these technologies on their own is a significant challenge, but when they interact with each other they create a different, more advanced technological landscape. 

Using technology with ease, confidence and minimal frustration can make employees more efficient, collaborative and productive in the workplace. 

For HR/recruiters, hiring resources with these 5 skills has obvious advantages, but that is not to say these skills cannot be developed over time with exposure to the appropriate employee education program. 

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