10 new workplace survival skills

Dec 22 2011 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

As one year limps to a close, another one looms before us. For some people that is an exciting time to wipe the slate clean and start over. I'm far too neurotic for that, but as I glumly assess the year's screw-ups there is a glimmer of hope I can do better next year. That leads me inevitably to asking what do I need to do better? Fortunately, there is no shortage of people willing to help us with that.

A recent report for the University of Phoenix in the US lists 10 skills that will be necessary for success in the workplace by 2020. A quick look around tells you the way we work today requires we work on them much faster than that.

According to the list, those skills are:

  1. Sense-making: is the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what's being expressed.
  2. Social intelligence: is the ability to connect to others in a deep and meaningful way to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions. With so many of us working on matrixed teams and short-term projects, the ability to quickly and accurately connect will mean the difference between long-term success or failure.
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking: the same old, same old isn't going to help create long-term and unique solutions to problems
  4. Cross-cultural competency: increasingly, we are working with people from other countries and cultures. Will we try to beat everyone into the same model or actually learn from each other? Anyone offering prayers for my sanity as I start my night class in conversational mandarin would be appreciated here.
  5. Computational thinking: Trying to handle all of the data coming at us is like drinking from a fire hose. Those who can actually make sense of everything and separate the wheat from the chaff will be national treasures.
  6. New-media literacy: this is more than just having a Twitter or Facebook account, but knowing how to interpret and interact with new media without being sucked in, exposing the company to nasty viruses or believing everything you read. Except this blog. This is practically gospel. Really.
  7. Transdisciplinarity: even spell-check doesn't recognize this word but it essentially means understanding other roles in the organization and how they interact. Basically it's time to learn what they're really thinking in HR, Finance, IT and other arcane disciplines.
  8. Design mindset: this is not only developing cool products, but understanding your work processes and how to design them for maximum efficiency and minimum craziness.
  9. Cognitive load management: yes, you do have too much on your plate. Can you wisely sort and prioritize them?
  10. Virtual collaboration: is the ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence (and value) as a member of virtual teams.
A quick look at that list will tell you that it looks a lot like what we need to function today, and waiting to 2020 (unless you are 10 years old) probably isn't a good plan.

One humble suggestion: check out the list of webinar workshops available at GreatWebMeetings.com. Even if you don't start here, start somewhere…. It's not too late but it will be soon.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a speaker, writer and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. He’s passionate about helping people present, sell and lead people and projects using today’s virtual communication technology. His books include Meet Like You Mean It - a Leader’s Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings. Wayne is based in Chicago, IL.