Workers are getting softer.
Softer-skilled, that is.
As automation becomes increasingly ingrained across lines of business, employees who excel at critical soft skills are balancing out the use of machines to achieve basic tasks and traditional manual labor.
According to a McKinsey report, the three most in-demand buckets of soft skills are now:
- Problem solving, critical thinking, innovation and creativity
- The ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity
- Communication skills
So how can companies work to meet those objectives among their workforce?
A deft combination of retraining and honed hiring.
Companies like Walmart, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase are busy investing R&D dollars into innovative programs that will retrain employees for other types of jobs. In the age of automation, Amazon, for instance, is training warehouse employees to become data analysts.
In five or ten years, different skills will be in demand than currently prevail in the workplace. And it’s the companies making proactive change that stand poised to excel as work shifts.
Hiring for Soft Skills:
Some tips to assess a potential candidate’s soft skills:
· Ask them how they would solve a tangible, actual problem your organization might be likely to encounter. -This is what Dane Holmes does. Holmes, Goldman Sachs’ HR chief (up until he left recently to start his own firm, Eskalera), prioritizes creativity in new hires as a driver of innovation. By asking point-blank how they’d solve a problem, he can analyze a candidate’s ability to think creatively in the moment.
· Look for evidence that candidates can practice “convergent thinking.” This is the ability to draw from multiple troves of information and knowledge to draw parallels in problem-solving — for instance, applying brain science to artificial intelligence to come up with a groundbreaking technology like machine learning.
· During the interview process be sure to observe not only what they say, but how they say it. Pay attention to whether they are a good listener, and if they can maintain a pleasant discussion.
· Ask candidates to give you specific examples that highlight their communication abilities in the workplace. For example, prompt them to name a time they influenced or persuaded a colleague or client.
But as analysts like McKinsey are predicting, simply hiring smart, data-inclined people will not be enough for companies to thrive in this new era. It will also require them to rethink their entire organizations.
At ECG Resources, we’ve seen a rise in the demand for soft skills such as those listed above, and it’s an important aspect to look for when connecting candidates with potential employers .
Related Articles: Not Just Any Job Seeker How to Attract the Career Conscious