An individual must have tolerance for ambiguity and will have to learn to adapt to changing scenarios, suggests Career Coach Dr Shruthi J Mayur.
The pandemic brought along so many changes, some of which we have come to accept as the 'new normal.'
Be it at work or at home, one of the biggest challenges is adapting to the digital way of life.
While technology was always making its presence felt, the rate at which it took over the life of the common man during the pandemic is unthinkable.
Pervading lives in all aspects, be it doctor consultation, teaching, learning, cooking, or even simple tips on living (happily), the entire globe has gone digital.
Today, each one of us has to relook at what is required to sustain and succeed in the workplace.
While technical skills are a must, both general and domain specific, there are 'softer skills' that have come to gain importance.
But there are additional challenges.
How long can an individual speak to a screen, make decisions, build trust with people one has never seen, or even motivate an employee juggling aimlessly to maintain a work-life balance?
While employability skills remain the same, one needs to adapt them to suit the digital workplace.
Here are some skills that will help you make a mark in the digital workspace:
1. Digital literacy
It is important to understand and use technology across different platforms so you can comprehend the limitations and the dangers of technology.
This is required because we live and work in a society where most of the communication is through digital platforms.
Digital platforms can be classified as social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter), knowledge platforms like Quora, media sharing platforms (Youtube, Spotify) and service oriented platforms (Uber, OLA, AirBnB).
2. Decision making
While this has always been on the list of required skills, the difference today is to make quicker decisions through assimilation and analysis of relevant data using available analytical tools such as SEO tools, Google Analytics, Google forms, Tableau and the like.
To be able to make decisions in turbulent times, an individual must have tolerance for ambiguity and will have to learn to adapt to changing scenarios.
To be better at adaptability an individual must be wise enough to understand what is in their control and what is not. This will enable to accept reality quicker and move forward.
For example, rather than stressing about trying to control situations beyond one's capacity, such as the lockdown, one must refocus on what can be done to move forward inspite of the lockdown.
4. Pattern thinking
One way of increasing adaptability, as mentioned above, is to answer the question -- How good are we at seeing patterns?
Do graphs and numbers speak to you?
Well, if they don't, then it's time to start learning to see patterns. This will aid in understanding complex challenges, developing simple solutions and affecting required changes.
Upskilling in learning tools that will enhance data analysis will help in this area.
In its true sense, resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations.
While setbacks are bound to occur, the ability to succeed is to hasten recovery from the setback and stay focussed. This turnaround time depends on an individual’s inner drive.
6. Emotional intelligence
To remain focussed, one must have both personal and social awareness.
A good balance between the two will decide the level of emotional intelligence. This is a skill that can be learned through proper mentoring.
7. Creative mindset
The usual thought in this area is to think out-of-the-box. But today, this alone is not sufficient.
A creative mindset calls for new creative thinking patterns such as New box, Other-box, and No-box, suggests American writer American writer and director. You can read all about it here (external link).
This can be done by discussing ideas with people from different domains to understand different perspectives regarding a single thought.
The basic foundation for any good leader is the ability to build trust. How can one build trust in virtual teams?
The answer, while simple, has to be diligently practiced.
The ABCD trust model is a comprehensive model that can be followed.
The four main aspects to be followed by a leader are: to demonstrate competence (Able), to act with integrity (Believable), to care for others (Connected), and to maintain reliability (Dependable). This is a skill that can be learned through proper coaching.
9. Learning to learn
Every individual must be willing to learn ALL the time.
You can either learn from your own experience or from another’s -- the attitude to learn is imperative.
10. Stress management
The biggest source of fatigue for any individual is stress. While stress cannot be done away with, success depends on how well it is managed.
The key to this lies in being emotionally intelligent. One should also be wise enough to distinguish between what is and is not within his/her control.
Once this is identified, it becomes a lot easier to organise our lives. For example, meditation has been widely recommended as this helps to sort the clutter in the mind.
Personally, I never thought that one day I will teach my class sitting in my bedroom.
I thought 'WFH' was a concept limited to the people working in the IT industry. Hybrid classroom sessions never crossed my mind.
But 2020 changed all that.
If I want to remain present and competitive, it's time to pull up my socks and attune myself to the reality that stares me in the face OR fade away saying "In my days...."
Dr Shruthi J Mayur is an ICF certified coach, co-chair -- OB, HR and Communication Area, T A Pai Management Institute, Manipal.