June 22, 2024


Author: Craig Weiss
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How often have you thought about your boss in this way – “How did they get the ability to manage, people?”  OR “As a leader, they stink.” – Oh, if you are the boss, just know some folks think you can’t lead, your welcome.

Anyway,  the fact of the matter is there is way too much of leadership development and leadership this and that content.  I know, you are going to say, that placing folks on the leadership development plan can only exist with leadership content.  Well, look at the leaders at your company.  How did that turn out?

Fun Fact

A Gallup Poll in 2016 found only 18% of managers demonstrated an aptitude for effectively managing.

No word on how many of them took at least one course in leadership development.

This post, though isn’t about leadership development, it is about digital and data skills, or more importantly, the lack thereof in today’s content, which will be needed in the coming years for all employees. 

Data To Think About

  • 50% in Hospitality, Retail and Telecom are concerned about their technical skill levels (HR Dive, 2019)
  • The most important skill in tech leadership is scenario planning (Forbes, March 2019)

Read various sites and it is data knowledge, as in how to handle the data, data science, data modeling and validation.  Data segmentation appears too.  

We are in the age of as one pundit put it “4th industrial revolution.”  And this fourth industrial revolution is all about digital.  The digital economy, which comes with a skill set that many folks are lacking in the workplace –  digital skills.

Content is a Commodity but

Go to any content provider (okay most of them) and you will found leadership, business, safety, communication, customer service, compliance and some types of software training.  Maybe, you will find specifics for legal or medical or even construction.

But where is the content related the skills folks need based on the digital economy?

Where is the content that trains people on technical skill sets?  Sure you can watch a video on Salesforce CRM or Lotus 1-2-3, but people learn best when the content is interactive and mimics the product.

Where is the content for the future data scientists?  The people at your workplace that you see as not future leaders, but future drivers for the next decade?   Where is the content to assure that someone who is worried about losing their job due to lack of technical skills, is provided the opportunity to select and learn various technical skills?

How often do you come across content related to multiculturalism in your workplace? The content I’ve seen lacks anything of value. Static. Text. That no one will read or retain or synthesize.

And yet, we live today in a global village and one that is multicultural. 

With the digital age people often believe that the professional workers are the only people that need to know this.  I say, wrong.  Anyone at your workplace, whether they are in the warehouse, mail room, driver, part or full-time needs digital skill sets.  Part of the power of soft skills learning is recognizing that you are providing knowledge for your employee’s life, not just at the work place.

Depending on the expert, the number of places people will work at  in their lifetime is anywhere from eight to 10.  Eight to 10 workplaces.  While the data often points to the millennials, I can attest at a GenX person, that before launching my own firm, I worked at eight different companies, two high schools and one university. 

Most people that I know, stay one to two years and then bolt for what they hope will be a better job than the one they currently have. 

Yet too many companies focus only on the skills the person needs in their workplace – but here is the kicker – the need that company perceives NOT the needs of the digital economy that the company exists within.

Foreign Language anyone?

I can count on my fingers how many content vendors offer courses to teach folks a foreign language.   Rosetta Stone recently dived into the adding their courses to course marketplaces in the learning system space.  But the other players?  No. 

And yet, there are plenty of people out there who pay $$ to learn a foreign language on their own, regardless if it is via the web or a mobile app on their smartphone or tablet.

So where is it when it comes to the content as a whole that exist in the content provider repertoire? Because if you haven’t been paying attention, your world isn’t just “My Small town” anymore.  In the digital economy, knowing another language is a huge plus, especially if it is a language that you can utilize in either your job or personal life.

I note personal life, because you are training people. And people are interested in more than just learning how to put a widget into a box.  A well-rounded employee is far better than an employee whose only knowledge is tied to their job role and nothing more.

Fun Fact

In a recent study from Yoh,

  • 75% of Americans would hire a candidate equipped with soft skills but lacking experience or qualifications when the perfect candidate is nowhere to be found.
  • 13% of respondents said they would most likely hire candidates who have the desired experience and qualifications but lack such soft skills

While it is true

That time-management, interpersonal, communication are necessary skills, they are not what will make Steve move up the job chain.

Let’s say Steve is a remote worker. He works from home.  He has good time management skills, an effective communicator and is well-liked by customers and his fellow employees.  But Steve has a challenge.   He wants to be more.  He wants to stand out. He wants to be recognized by his bosses, which then might open up the door for him, for future opportunities in the company.

Steve needs a new set of skills, because he will need to be his own cheerleader, his own “look at me” type of person in a professional way.  He isn’t going to find that skill in a leadership development course nor in interpersonal.  

He will find though in content that is designed specifically for folks seeking that “self-assurance” and “diplomacy” to achieve that.  Some people refer to it as self-motivation, and yeah, I can see that – but there is more to it.

Content Providers are becoming

To broad in terms of the output of content, which is another reason why it has become a commodity and as such is impacting poorly in the skills we need in the next decade.

Focus – Focus – Focus

I always hear how retail has high turnover. And while there are various reasons for it, one that comes thru is the lack of personal and professional development.  Come to think about it, lack of personal and professional is a key factor on why people in all industries leave their jobs.

They want the training.   And yet, when we provide them with the content it isn’t for life situations, rather it is more in the general categories that so many providers offer. 

In the digital economy, the need for life situations is there, and as such the content needs to be available for it.

And yet, I rarely find it with content providers.  

Skills are _______

Before you can have skill ratings, competencies even an algorithm tied to skills, you need to recognize where we are today in 2019.

Content created in 2005 is not the same as what is needed today.   Even if the perception that the job role is the same as it always has been, the skills to do that job have changed.  Back in 2005, not many folks had a smartphone.  Now, they do.

Back in 2005, people could still live in their bubble, away from the global village.  Not anymore.  

Social media was quite small in terms of a footprint.  There wasn’t YouTube or Facebook. 

The skills needed in 2014 for any job role is different today – and yet, we still select courses (content) that was built back in that day and age.  I know of a well-known content provider who still has content from the early 2000’s sitting on their servers (along with more recent content).

Bottom Line.

Don’t just think about today

Think about tomorrow and the day after that and so forth.

With each passing day, new skills are needed. 

20 years ago automation existed, but it wasn’t impacting the mining industry as it is today, nor numerous other industries that relied more on people and now more on machines.

And it is only going to continue. Robots will replace people – that is a reality.  Some form of A.I. will replace either the job, the person’s job role or the person’s responsibilities. 

Rather than just “sigh” and say we can’t do anything about it, I say you can.

Look to what skills will be needed, and start providing those skills in the content that you offer to your employees.

Ignore the usual mantra of a happy employee is a productive employee (because it is true), and instead focus on your new mantra

Soft skills are skills that will improve your employee’s opportunities

In today’s digital economy

And their life

In tomorrow’s world.

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