As the world adapts to living with the coronavirus pandemic and adjusts to a ‘next normal,’ the skills that companies are seeking are evolving with the times. Much like how digital skills have become a necessity rather than a bonus, we found in our Talent in Asia 2020 report the top five soft skills that employers in Asia are looking out for.
Developing soft skills is as critical as other types of know-how as it helps to strengthen the social and emotional acumen of a workforce, and are relevant to all careers and industries. As the world increasingly relies on sophisticated automation and technology, human skills like compassion, empathy and critical thinking will define the competitive edge of workers and organizations.
Here are the five skills we found are especially in demand now.
Accountability and Responsibility
As teams shift online, accountability and responsibility are both becoming increasingly important. When everyone is working remotely or in agile teams that are decentralized, it is imperative that your colleagues and supervisors are certain everyone is pitching in, meeting deadlines, and working at the same productivity levels that are achieved when the team is together. By being an accountable and responsible team member, your team – and your managers – will know that you are reliable and can be trusted with any task or challenge, and to make and execute decisions.
With work processes and systems in a state of near-constant flux this year, it’s likely that problem-solving has been front and center for many companies. No matter if it’s a snafu with technology, an unforeseen logistics delay, or a client that suddenly needs to change the way you work with them, the ability to pivot and problem-solve will go a long way in making projects run smoothly – particularly in instances that call for the need to navigate the human/machine division of labor.
This isn’t always the easiest task and can require a shift in mindset – especially if you’re a person who values order and processes – but try to remind yourself that old ways of working may not be the best any longer, and then focus on looking at the task at hand in new ways. It might even be easier to think of this as curiosity. Russell Potter, Learning and Development Manager (APAC) for RGF International Recruitment said, “If we can encourage a mindset of curiosity, we can start to see the opportunities in changes that are happening around us and then follow that curiosity to find new ways to better service customers, embrace new technologies and business models, and innovate.”
Critical thinking skills will help you suggest new solutions and ideas, especially if you can use reasoning and logic to evaluate the situation. Hopefully this can help you move past the shock of change and toward finding a new solution.
Good Team Player
Working well with your team goes beyond getting along with your peers. To most managers, a good team player means a person who is able to interact with others of various cultural backgrounds effectively, who can practice control, expression and observation of interpersonal relationships in the workplace, who is accountable and responsible with their own tasks and deadlines, and who steps up in times of need. An easy way to demonstrate being a good team player is let others know when you have a light workload or find yourself completing tasks early and have time to spare, and ask if there’s anything you can help with.
It’s important to also keep in mind that being a good team player can also mean pitching in during a crisis or urgent project with a hard deadline. Be sure that you are always doing your part – this will not only reflect well on you, but will ensure that others will help you out when you need it.
Communication and Presentation
A key skill to nurture during the rise of the fourth industrial revolution is communication. Being able to exchange ideas and information in a clear, concise manner – and with an appropriate tone and body language – will establish you as a professional and subject-matter expert in your field and role. For instance, you can present your ideas using storytelling or proper pitch deck formats.
Another important aspect is how you communicate with your peers and managers – make it a point to check-in with your team daily so that they know you’re available and are up-to-date on your progress with projects, and always let everyone know as early as possible if you experience issues or think you may miss a deadline. It can be easy for this to end up on the bottom of your to-do list – especially if working remotely or in a decentralized team – but strive to check-in at the beginning, middle and end of your day to ensure you are touching base with everyone. Furthermore, being able to establish this free flow of communication within safe and mutually trusting confines will create an environment conducive to creativity.
Being able to listen to others is also part of being a strong communicator as it aids in developing trust. Especially when remote working has become the ‘next normal’, arranging online calls to reach out and listen to others is a mark of respect that helps to build strong team unity through trust and transparency.
Strong Learning Ability
While employers don’t expect you to know everything, they do expect you to have the skills to be flexible, learn quickly, and to be able to think both analytically and logically. This is especially crucial as Industry 4.0 technologies are adopted into a wide array of industries, which is rapidly changing the way many businesses operate and requiring employees to adjust to shifting workplace expectations.
Russell Potter said, “In a growth market, there is room for mistakes and the trial-and-error that is often only seen in agile entrepreneurship. Although entrepreneurship will be important, in a recession, there is likely to be no soft landing. Because of this, making well-considered and rational decisions based on each situation is crucial, and it is the soft skill of critical decision-making that delivers exactly that.”
By developing these five skills, you’ll not only be an attractive candidate but a valuable employee and team member. As Russell advises, “The first steps to improve your soft-skills is to make the conscious choice to seek to improve. You may need some additional knowledge or tactics which you can get from reading books, online courses or simply speaking to a mentor or coach. From there it’s about practicing and then reflecting on what what’s working or not. If you’re persistent, your behavior will subtly change after around one month. If you put in the work and have a clear motivation, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed.”
For more information on what both employer and candidates value, download our Talent in Asia report today.
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