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4 Fast Facts on Essential Skills for the Workforce of the Future—and How to Instill Them

By Barry Kayton
22 February 2021

Power Skills

Creativity, complex reasoning, and profound socio-emotional intelligence are fast becoming essential skills. Organizations need to fast-track the acquisition of these.


 

As workplace technology grows more complex, so too must our skills grow more refined. Think of creativity, complex reasoning, and profound socio-emotional intelligence. These are fast becoming essential in almost every role, no matter the industry. Preparing people for our new world means activating behavior change at scale.


Fact 1: Creativity is easy to instill with the right tools

Creativity is relatively easy to instill in a workforce. All that’s required to spark creativity is the right provocation at the right time. Creativity tools can prompt people to think about things in new ways. In the workplace, provocations most often take the form of questions. You can use books, cards, or software to deliver creative prompts to employees. Getting the timing right is the trick. 


Fact 2: Complex reasoning is difficult to fast-track

Today there are more layers and depth to most modern work processes than the processes of the past. As our work systems become more complex, our thinking requires greater nuance. 

This skill is harder to fast-track than creativity. If a company wants people to think more critically, with complex reasoning, there are ways to do it. Suppose workers are delivering a product or service, or managing a project. By prompting users with critical questions in the flow of their work, software can augment their thinking.  


Fact 3: Socio-emotional intelligence requires changing behavior on an emotional level

Socio-emotional intelligence means understanding people. It means grasping their motivations, intentions, the reasons for their behaviors, etc. 

It also means self-understanding on all these levels.

When people collaborate they share more than the work. They also share the pressure of deadlines and the stress of requirements. Miscommunications, misunderstandings, and misalignments can derail a project. And so this raises the risk of dysfunctional teams. 

Unfortunately, there’s no fast-track to improving socio-emotional intelligence. Why? Because emotional reactions are less amenable to change. Like whiskey, wine and wisdom, emotional maturity takes time.


Fact 4: The best method of fast-tracking these skills is through experiential learning techniques

These skills are best acquired through experiential learning techniques. This need not mean grand simulations at great cost. Having a meaningful conversation with a more experienced colleague is an experience.

More experienced colleagues model their seasoned thinking processes in conversations at work. It’s in such conversations that we observe, pick up, and begin to adopt their thinking as our own. Patrick focuses on the priming effect. Michael warns against spurious accuracy. Hayley flags the need for change management. We listen to our colleagues and we mirror the thinking that makes sense to us. We ask the questions we hear others asking. We echo the imperatives we hear others invoking. Thus are mental models passed from one person to another. Useful mental models survive. Useless models die. 

Demand is growing for the workforce of the future. Organizations need to fast-track the acquisition of these power skills among their employees. But with the right learning systems today, we can upskill our workforces to meet the challenges of tomorrow. 

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Power Skills