Critical Skills for Global Technological Change
Feature Story – By Sheila Duffy-Cyr
Here are five areas that are critical to unleash the capacity and capabilities of employees globally.
My daughter has a water bottle that connects to the phone to track water consumption and blinks when it is time for her to drink more water. When I was her age, the concept of airdrop, online collaborative tools and even the Internet were not even on the radar and were very “Jetsonslike” (“The Jetsons” was a popular American animated cartoon that featured a utopian future).
Technology is advancing at an accelerated rate and global employees seek to stay current on technological options. In many situations, companies mandate training on technology (sometimes to “check the box”). However, these same companies can often miss the critical skills that support the ability to adopt and adapt to new technology.
While the technical side of these changes are important, what is more important are the skills and core competencies necessary to not just survive, but thrive in a time of change. What are these skills and competencies and how might they manifest differently globally? Can these skills be taught or learned? Can individuals learn how to both understand and adjust their mindset when it comes to adapting to something new, including technology?
Here are five areas that are critical to unleash the capacity and capabilities of employees globally. While it can be debated whether these are hard or soft skills, these are critical, more rudimentary and primary skills that are the stepping stones to address the future.
Mindset and the Impact on Change Management
Our attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and values (where the “mind is set”) drive our behavior. In order to change our behavior, we have to understand what drives it. Therefore, individuals need to be acutely aware of their mindset in the midst of change. How do we view change? How do we manage change?
Change is a constant and is not always easy to embrace. In order to understand our mindset, individuals need to learn how to pause and reflect in a more conscious manner. Mindset can be directly impacted by the culture within a department, company, country and even globally. Mindset is about understanding the why behind what you and others do. Once the why is clearer, we can map out a path to more effectively embrace change.
Sensitivity and Empathy
It is important to state up front that being sensitive and empathetic toward another person does not mean agreement with that person, but rather understanding of their viewpoint. The comment, “Help me understand,” guided by a sense of curiosity, can catalyze a group.
We cannot choose who we work with, per se, but we can choose how we work with them. Two rudimentary skills that support this are the ability to create robust questions and the ability to actively listen. While seen as rudimentary, the skill of asking great questions can be elusive to many.
Sometimes a great question can enable an individual to see into the mind(set) of another and understand the origin of behavior. Active-listening, often mistaken as listening to respond, is the ability to mindfully hear and comprehend the meaning of words and confirming that you are listening through verbal and nonverbal methods. The ability to effectively question and actively listen can help you arrive at that deeper understanding.
Adaptability is, literally, the ability to adapt to change. When an unanticipated change occurs, what is our ability to pivot and move forward? Can the organization quickly adapt to the “new normal”?
Resilience, whether internal or external, is the ability to adapt and pivot over time. While this is not a skill taught overnight, someone can develop their resilience muscle and make it even stronger over time. It is easy to ascertain the group that is more likely to excel in a changing environment. We often have little control over change, but we have full control in how we react to change.
Utilizing the complete set of skills and perspectives is critically important in this truly global economy.
Our mindset in how we address problems is polarizing. Some see problems as challenges to overcome rather than issues to avoid. Part and parcel to scenario planning is the ability to anticipate potential issues or problems.
An embracing mindset can lead to an increase in resourcefulness and allows for greater creativity. Establishing this mindset for developing solutions changes the dynamics significantly and can be transformational for an organization.
The concept of teaming has been a buzzword for the past several years. However, the true essence of teaming has not been fully realized. There are several models to help support the mechanics of teaming – these models help identify the why, who and what. It is the “how” in those models that has been elusive. With clear roles and responsibilities, appropriate resources, and a clear path for decision making, the “how” can be harnessed.
Teams performing at their peak are guided by a common goal and fueled by the various skills and perspectives of the members of the team. Utilizing the complete set of skills and perspectives is critically important in this truly global economy. Commonality in method can make a dramatic difference in bringing a team together.
Globally these five areas may manifest themselves differently based on social, political and cultural contexts. However, they are all critical and need to be embraced in a time of constant change, especially constant technological change.
Yes, employees may need training on technology to become literate and functional in the use of technology. However, even if employees are in a technical field, the core skills and competencies listed above are necessary to thrive in today’s global economy.
Sheila Duffy-Cyr is director of learning capability of Cormis U.S. Email Sheila at