The Future of Work Relies on Your Developing These 5 Team Skills
Free Book Preview: Unstoppable
A change-or-die moment may be coming to your business: Across multiple industries, disruptive changes are happening more and more frequently.
And if employees don't have the right skills to keep up, employers will face an ever-widening skills gap.
In February, the Institute for the Future and Cornerstone On Demand released a report that identified five "super skills" that will "groom people for just about anything." By "super skills," the nonprofit Institute and the talent management software company -- both based in California -- meant workplace training and experiences that will allow employees to adapt and succeed, no matter what the future brings.
Leaders who want to be forward-thinking -- or risk seeing their organizations fall behind -- should make sure their employees:
Super skill 1: get credit
Cornerstone defines this skill as “workers [getting] ‘credit’ for every skill they build and develop and [carrying] those credits into new positions across their careers.”
If leaders want to retain employees with such diverse skills, they need to provide a variety of in-house learning experiences -- and give employees credit for their efforts.
Cornerstone, for example, has a badge system to give employees just such credit for their efforts. Employees earn badges and receive feedback in both formal and informal learning settings. They can even receive accolades from their peers.
“Cornerstone aims to give our teams credit for all they do,” assistant vice president of learning and organizational effectiveness, Jeff Miller, said in an email. This is the case, he wrote, "whether it is progress against an individual goal, collaborating on a cross-functional team, or diving into self-directed learning."
Takeaway: Even without a formal system, leaders can easily give employees credit -- by endorsing their skills on LinkedIn, for example. At my company, we've developed specialty skills tracks, and employees can earn an extra $3,000 annually for each one they complete.
Super skill 2: Upgrade their digital fluency
Unlike an understanding of how to operate the latest technology, digital fluency is about finding new ways to utilize these tools.
Take Boston Children’s Hospital, for example. In 2016, the organization developed the first healthcare-based Alexa service, KidsMD. It allows parents to ask Alexa basic questions about their child’s health.
The AI-based technology was not meant to be used by or replace healthcare professionals. Rather, it’s a new way for Boston Children’s Hospital employees to share their knowledge and serve people beyond hospital walls.
Takeaway: At your company, schedule a day once a month when employees can learn about and discuss new technologies. By brainstorming together, employees potentially can find additional uses for tech already at their fingertips.
Super skill 3: Connect the dots
In the best workplace environments, teams share everything. But for this to be effective, employees need to know how to connect the dots. When employees see what information, resources and skills across the entire organization are available to them, they perform their individual roles better.
At the Chicago-based staffing and employment agency Addison Group, leaders provide monthly training sessions open to all employees. During these times, employees across the country share the best practices they’ve discovered.
Manager of talent development, Michelle Tasevski, said via email that this allows employees at all levels and verticals to see the complete picture.
Takeaway: Create teams that include employees from all parts of the organization. For example, if the marketing department is working on a new strategy, include members from sales and product development. While these people may not be marketing experts, the team will benefit from their knowledge and create a more well-rounded strategy.
Super skill 4: Improve their multi-cultural dexterity
At inclusive organizations, employees are valued for their unique points of view -- making the team as a whole more innovative and creative. To achieve this, employees need a deep understanding of all their co-workers.
Cornerstone has both a Bring Your Kids to Work and a Bring Your Parents to Work Day. These initiatives give everyone a better understanding of their colleagues and strengthen the relationships among co-workers.
Takeaway: Plan similar events that fit the company culture. For example, begin team meetings with employee show-and-tells. This will allow individuals to define who they are and help their co-workers see what they have to offer.
Super skill 5: Grow a caring core
When employees truly care about their customers, co-workers, and the company's overall mission, that attitude will show in the bottom line. The best way to develop empathetic employees is to lead by example.
This is why Vista, Calif.-based tactical military communications equipment provider Datron World Communication practices servant leadership. Traditionally, employees serve leaders, but with servant leadership, leaders serve employees.
Takeaway: Find ways to show employees they’re valued as human beings. Take time during the day to ask team members how they are doing. Offer to help if they’re struggling. The smallest gesture can show them how important it is for them to be caring, as well.