According to the World Economic Forum in its most recent “The Future of Jobs” report, the most important skills for the future are not technical, task-oriented skills, but higher-order skills such as creativity, social influence, active learning, and analytical thinking.
The good news is that there are talented, savvy people with those skills. The bad news is that they have a choice of places to work – so will they choose to work with you? According to XpertHR, finding and keeping high-quality talent will be the top challenge for business leaders in 2019. Adopt these three strategic initiatives to maximise the skill and talent in your workforce – so you can avoid disruption and stay ahead of the game.
1. Embrace diversity
According to the DCA-Suncorp “Inclusion@Work Index 2018”, employees in diverse and inclusive teams are more innovative, more effective, more satisfied with their jobs, and more likely to stay. That’s an immediate benefit for your workplace, but it goes further. In Henry Ford’s day, when each worker on an assembly line was assigned a specific role, it was an advantage for that worker to follow instructions strictly.
But those days are long gone. In our more complex world, the “experts” don’t necessarily have the best expertise, experience, and wisdom to guide your business for future success.
Diverse thinking in your team is not just desirable – it’s essential. Diversity is not just a “feel good” initiative – it gives you a strategic advantage in a fast-changing world.
2. Lean in
You’re wasting the potential of a diverse workforce if you don’t take advantage of that diversity – even if it seems counter-intuitive. For instance, if you see your team members – especially younger members – “wasting” time on social media during work hours, you might be tempted to restrict, block, limit, or ban technology, but that doesn’t help anybody – including yourself – prepare for the future.
Taken to extremes, this behaviour can be distracting or even addictive. But so is the other extreme, where you reject it entirely. Look for the healthy balance in the middle, where you “lean in” and take the opportunity to learn, assess, review, and evaluate new ideas, behaviours, and practices.
3. Build their judgement
Instead of strict policies that stifle creativity and quickly become obsolete, operate with guidelines that are more flexible and enable people to add their personal touch. Then invest in building good judgement in your team members, so you can trust them to decide when to follow the guidelines, when to deviate from them, and when to stop and check in with you.
As a leader, you have the benefit of experience, which leads to good judgement, which in turn builds wisdom. Your team members don’t have that experience, judgement, and wisdom. The best leaders accelerate the experience curve by actively building good judgement in their team.
If you’ve always said your people are your biggest asset, now is the time to invest in them! If you’re not already adopting these three principles, don’t expect things to change overnight. You can change your mindset right now, but it takes time and effort for this to filter through the workplace culture. But it’s time well spent, and it’s critical for future success.