The world is changing: the digital age, specifically the permeation of the Internet into every fabric of living, has created countless new ways to work, shop, play and live. As someone with nieces and nephews between the ages of 12 and 21, I often wonder what the world of work will look like for them, specifically what will amount to career currency?
In the past, career paths were laid out like a well-loved traveler’s map: entering into one position, you had a good idea of how the plan might unfold over time based on performance. Success was largely defined by promotions, corporate career ladder progression, and which box you occupied on the organizational chart. Today I advise my younger family members that the days of climbing the corporate ladder are gone. They have been replaced by something more valuable: relevancy.
When I tell them that they should focus on staying relevant, they look at me with a slightly bemused look. “What do you mean? Relevant in what, exactly?”
Staying relevant means consistently anticipating and honing skills that matter. Since it’s hard to predict what jobs might exist in the next decade or so, focusing on honing skills applicable to a globally complex world provides you more opportunities in the future.
So, what might these transferable skills be? Surprisingly, many are tried and tested skills of today, but with a slight twist:
Let’s take teamwork, for example: Teamwork will still be of importance BUT teams will be very different than today. The expansion of virtual connectivity tools coupled with the immense growth of the supplemental and transient workforces changes the core structure of teams and how group tasks will be accomplished. The future of teambuilding is about crafting shared ownership and harnessing the power of diversity across multiple platforms and varied cultural demographics. The ability to master these technological advances while fostering a shared passion for excellence will continue to be in the demand far into the future.
Analytical ability will still be a sought after capability, BUT it’s value will be gaged very differently. The ever-increasing flow of information means strong analytical skills will still be needed, but speed and accuracy will be more important than ever. The ability to translate, quantify and qualify will always be vital, but the crucial difference with future relevancy lies in the ability to make sound judgments on actions around what’s been presented. In other words, those who can become trusted advisors around data will always have career currency.
Global perspective is the new normal. Global presence and perspective is no longer the privilege of behemoth international companies, particularly since the Internet essentially renders the round world flat. Social media and worldwide connections create an essential need for individuals who see beyond their own environment. We live in a world where the marketplace is the entire planet. Those who understand that concept, who see humanity as their customer base, will reap the rewards.
Staying relevant also means redefining the workplace. Step outside your house and into any Starbucks, gym, airport terminal, park, restaurant and/or shopping center and you’ll discover people busily typing away on their computer, talking on the phone, and/or conducting meetings with prospective clients or current customers. We exist in a workplace without walls, and the future of centralized corporate headquarters will continue to evolve and look quite different than they do today. Anyplace with connectivity could be considered the offices of the future. It sounds so trivial and unimportant, but the ability to self-manage and self-motivate as well as the ability to manage other working on varied schedules and across multiple time zones will be key to staying relevant.
What skills do you believe will be relevant for the workforce of the future? I’d love to hear your views and opinions…