Are you prepared for the future of work?

April 12, 2019 1:46 pm

Professional development is as much about seizing the moment as it is about getting the right mentor/tutor or course. But, how can you make use of whatever situation you find yourself in to grow? I was speaking with a colleague today, who shared an excellent method for increasing self-awareness, particularly around unique personal attributes, e.g. ‘who you are’ versus ‘what skills/experiences you have’.

Having recently returned to the workforce after an extended leave, my colleague took some time to think about the different roles she had been ‘tapped’ to do in her career to date. She humbly acknowledged that there were times that she could see other peers also had the same or even more experience with roles that she was asked to take on, and she wondered why. Her natural curiosity lead her to reflect on not only the skills and expertise she has picked up so far in her career but to assess herself in terms of how she thinks, what she is comfortable with and how she approaches new challenges. She also asked for feedback from trusted peers and previous managers.

The exercise helped to broaden and deepen her self-awareness, highlighting aspects of her unique strengths such as dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty; the ability to create structure from chaos; curiosity and drive to learn as well as a strong ability to connect with others.

Her insights informed the types of roles she sought, the way she ‘marketed’ herself to prospective employers and helped her think about the ways she could informally help her colleagues regardless of what job she held. This type of contextual self-awareness is vital in today’s changing work environment.

In the past, we could take stock of our strengths and weaknesses, seek out a job that maximises opportunities to be our best and be set up for success. Now the goal posts are constantly changing. In my colleagues’ case, many personal attributes that she had not previously given much thought to have become critical to many roles in business.

It can also go the other way.

I spoke with another colleague a few months ago that realised his long tenure in one particular industry – previously an asset – was likely to restrict his options in the future if he did not take action soon. He applied for and was assigned a secondment role in another industry that needed someone with the skill set and expertise that he had acquired over the years. In his case, he leveraged a strength (his deep experience) to provide himself with an opportunity that will likely ‘set him up’ for future flexibility and continued success.

The common element with these people is that they were proactive about their career. They took the time and put in the effort to reflect and in both cases received external feedback about their capabilities in light of the current and expected future requirements. Waiting to find out that your job is going away because a machine can do it better or the industry is on the way out is just not a good option. Everybody has transferable skills/experiences and personal attributes that can be used to either shift immediately or to create development options for yourself.

In my experience, the thing that often hinders people from constantly re-assessing themselves is they are not sure how to do it or are concerned about asking for external feedback. Stopping long enough to ask yourself a few questions is a great start. For example, ask:

  1. What aspects of what I do (whether or not it is part of your core job) add value to your customers, your peers or other stakeholders?
  2. When I look at the forecasts and trends in my line of work – how do my skills/attributes stack up with likely future demands?
  3. How can I use what I have/know to get more experience/practice in the areas that are needed now and in the future?

It is also important to identify your blind spots and biases. We all have them! This is where an outside perspective makes all the difference. Getting this type of input can range from informally asking colleagues for feedback to participating in a formal assessment that is referenced against the capabilities that are most relevant for the present and future.

While it can be a bit intimidating to subject yourself to a challenging assessment – the greater understanding of the relative value of your unique skill/attribute set is a critical step in positing yourself for the future of work.

Do you want to take your development to the next level?

If you are in a leadership role and would like to quickly gain insight about your blind spots, where you are likely to ‘trip up’ in a real-world situation, as well as, learn how to fully leverage your unique constellation of strengths. Get in touch to learn about TalentFAST™ our unique simulation-based approach to leadership development that is informed by the latest neuroscience, psychology and leadership research.


photo credit

Markus Spiske Unsplash

Anastasia Zhenina Unsplash

Jakob Owens Unsplash

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