If I were to tell you the future success of your company hinges on your employees’ ability to communicate, you may think that’s a bit simplistic. After all, it takes many different roles and skillsets to make your company work. What about accounting? Or IT? Or operations?
That line of thinking is understandable. For years, the global workplace has emphasized the importance of hard skills. However, the future will bring with it a strong need for human skills. According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, algorithms and machines will take over many current tasks and humans will have a “comparative advantage” over machines in the following areas: “Managing, advising, decision-making, reasoning, communicating and interacting.”
Over time, it will become more obvious that workers who climb professionally will not only excel in the technical skills, but will excel in power skills. The power skills of greatest importance today and in the future include: communication, leadership, dependability, cooperation and teamwork, critical thinking, collaboration, resilience, and emotional intelligence.
The importance of power skills became even more necessary over the last two years during the age of COVID-19. Employees craved the human interaction they used to have in person, and they required clear and kind communication during times of crisis. In fact, the ability (or lack thereof) to empathetically connect with coworkers, clients, leaders, team members, and employees likely became a critical underpinning of the Great Resignation.
Learning and Development leaders are recognizing the importance of power skills training. So much so, projected spend on power skills training is expected to “reach US$ 47.16 Billion by 2027.”
The question is: Are you offering your employees the opportunity to improve their communication?
If not, here are three reasons why you should make 2022 The Year of Power Skills.
Attract New Employees
The Great Resignation has changed what prospective hires are looking for in a company. Gone are the days where applicants are drawn to an organization because of ping pong tables, kombucha on tap, and bring-your-dog-to-work days. But applicants are drawn to opportunities for development. To put it another way, development is the new ping pong.
With so many companies in need of employees, prospective hires have more options than ever before. And the companies that will win out are the ones who strategically offer opportunities to grow in power skills. Why? Because prospective hires see that as an investment in their future.
At the same time, technology is advancing at a blistering pace, powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mixed reality. Jobs that once required an abundance of human labor or advanced technical understanding can now be largely automated. Yet, people will still play an essential role in managing those technologies and in interpreting the masses of data that smart applications and devices produce. For people who could become victims of the fourth industrial revolution, their future relevance will rely more on the power skills that make them uniquely human.
Providing opportunities to build power skills communicates to potential hires that your organization cares deeply about their future and the longevity of their career.
Retain Existing Employees
Since workers have more options than ever before, opportunities for power skills development are a key differentiator between companies that retain employees and companies that don’t.
But power skills don’t just keep employees from leaving. Power skills also provide employees with the tools to advance within your organization, saving you the time and money it takes to recruit and onboard a new hire.
Think of it like this: An empathetic worker has the skills necessary to lead teams, find their way in the social hierarchy, attract and retain clients, and communicate successes back up the chain of command. This comes from a refined sense of how to appeal to the people around them, leveraging their sensibilities, and persuading people based on a personalized approach.
It’s much easier to identify and develop someone who has the potential to master these power skills from within your organization than to find someone from the outside who possesses all these qualities.
Improve Company Culture
As bold as this may sound, an employee’s day-to-day job satisfaction is tied to the power skills possessed by your organization’s leadership.
The way an employee feels after a 1:1 with a manager, a quarterly review, a sales kickoff, or an all-hands meeting is a product of power skills. Why? Because power skills are the difference between leaders communicating with clarity or confusion. It’s the difference between leaders communicating with empathy or apathy. It’s the difference between leaders communicating a vision that leads to excitement and unity or a vision that instills anxiety and frustration.
Company culture isn’t created by the aesthetic of your office or the amenities it provides. Culture is created by the way your people communicate—from leaders and managers to individual contributors and everywhere in between. And the healthiest company cultures are the ones where power skills are taken seriously.
Putting Your Power Skills Training Plan Into Action
Duarte’s surveys of learning and development professionals from 2020 and 2021 indicate that most organizations are increasing their budgetary investment in professional development. This investment makes good business sense because power skills can generate an eye-popping return on investment of 256%.
Learning and development is an investment made towards both the future of a company and its employees. So make a plan to improve your organization’s power skills training plan today. The benefits are sure to improve your organization, and also your career.
Illustration by Taylor Henry & Alexis Macias