The workplace is changing, and as a result, the types of skills that employees and organizations need to develop are also changing. A recent LinkedIn survey found that the No. 1 talent development priority for employers is training in soft skills. Now and into the future, skills such as communication, creativity, and leadership will be the critical components of employee development. These key skills enable more effective functioning of teams and help employees perform to their maximum potential. Here are five skills you’ll need to develop to ensure your workforce is well-prepared for the future.
Creativity and Innovation
Organizations must constantly evolve to meet the challenges associated with advancements in technology, industry changes, and shifts in customer expectations. To do so successfully, employees need to be able to exercise creativity in order to develop innovative solutions and pivot as new opportunities arise. With strong creativity and innovation skills, employees will be able to:
- Identify ways to improve existing processes and implement new ones.
- Respond rapidly and successfully to unexpected challenges or changes.
- Apply critical thinking to identify and eliminate inefficiencies.
It’s no surprise that effective communication and collaboration lead to improved company performance. Research conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that companies who embrace and reward collaboration are 5.5 times more likely to be high performing. When all individuals on a team share information and resources, give each other time to ask questions, and take time to clarify roles and responsibilities, the team is able to work more effectively and achieve or exceed their goals. Individuals with strong communication and collaboration skills support team performance in the following ways:
- They use active listening to understand others’ points of view.
- They eliminate confusion and resolve conflicts by asking thoughtful questions and encouraging healthy debate.
- They develop a sense of team spirit that engages all members of the team.
Individuals who are highly adaptable adjust their behavior and mindset to meet changes in processes, people, and tools. Although being adaptable is a necessary skill in today’s ever-changing workplace, it isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. Some don’t know how to adapt, and others may be resistant to change out of fear or confusion. Training individuals to take a more adaptable and agile approach in the workplace enables them to embrace the common challenges that occur during times of transition or change. Training also allows teams to capitalize on new opportunities and overcome unexpected obstacles as they arise.
The rise of technology has led to increasingly complex organizations and interconnected teams, and each of these groups needs strong leaders at every level who can translate strategy into action. Effective leaders are not only capable of launching new initiatives, but they are also able to support others to help them develop new skills and perform at a higher level. Leadership development provides individuals with the knowledge and ability to:
- Coach others to improve performance and address development areas.
- Effectively communicate expectations and develop accountability in others.
- Build teams and ensure alignment with organizational objectives.
Productivity and Time Management
Many of today’s employees feel overwhelmed by all of the demands on their time and the constantly shifting priorities. A recent Gallup study found that two-thirds of US workers experience burnout at work. By improving productivity and time management skills, employees can learn how to eliminate busywork and focus their energy on the most valuable tasks. If your employees are struggling with time management, experiential and hands-on training is a great way to introduce new behaviors and help them manage their time once back on the job.
Employees who develop their productivity and time management skills will have not only the tools to reduce procrastination and eliminate sources of stress, but also the ability to prioritize tasks and make effective use of their time at work.
Soft skills are critical because they enable the workforce to adapt and perform in today’s rapidly changing business environment. It’s nearly impossible to effectively develop a soft skill by sitting through a lecture or reading a book on the subject. Instead, experiential learning—learning by doing and practicing—is an ideal choice for teaching individuals the soft skills they need for future success. When individuals have the opportunity to improve skills such as collaboration, adaptability, and leadership, the result is a workforce that is poised not only to overcome obstacles, but also to anticipate and harness new opportunities as they arise.