Some skills are timeless. They were valuable in 2008 and in 1918 and probably will be in 2028 and 2118.
These are qualities such as motivation, good judgement, initiative, integrity and interpersonal skills.
But there were five skills that became noticeably more valuable in 2018 and will be essential to success in 2019, right across the whole world of work.
1. Digital literacy
It’s been called the ‘10x’ factor. For example, a great programmer can deliver ten times the value of an average one. And it doesn’t just apply to IT. Employees with high digital literacy now have a material advantage over those with little knowledge. This includes fluency with emerging platforms and tools, understanding how to digitise non-digital products and services, and understanding fields such as AI, M2M, VR/AR, cyber-security and blockchain, just to name a few.
As hierarchies are increasingly obsoleted by networks, it’s critical to be good at working in teams. Most people think that they are good at team work, but very few really excel. Great collaborators put the team before self, they don’t play politics, they both listen and contribute, and they have both the courage to share their positions and the humility to hold them lightly. The very best can also synthesise diverse perspectives into a single insight.
Work has become more fluid than ever. Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that those who naturally favour change are more positive about organisational transformation and adjust much better. In 2019, you will have to be relaxed about changes in your role, your company’s priorities, who your boss is, or pretty much anything else.
With all the technology and data now around us, it’s clear that the best decisions are usually scientific ones, using the wisdom of crowds – especially crowds of customers. The best employees in 2019 will listen and gather evidence before making decisions. They won’t simply do what they did in 2018.
5. Value orientation
This might be the biggest factor of all. The best employees in 2019 will unquestionably be those who focus more on the value they can create rather than the number of hours they work or tasks they complete. They will look for the new approach that can generate more value, whether for customers, employees or shareholders. The employees who do this will be absolute gold. The managers who were perceptive enough to recognise this kind of contributor will be even more valuable.
One thing that we know for sure about 2019 is that few employees will be talking about how much discretionary time they have.
The combination of global competition, industry disruption and ubiquitous digital technologies means that we are constantly operating in ‘action mode’.
Most employees have far more packed into their week than there are available hours, making it virtually impossible to clear our to-do lists.
The sixth, unspoken, skill is the ability to create space for reflection and bigger picture thinking, when the daily schedule seems to make no allowance for it.
While employees no longer have the luxury of days without delivery pressures, if they can master the five skills — and find ways to create thinking space — they will be much closer to achieving success in 2019.
(Anthony Mitchell is the co-founder and Chief Potential Officer of Bendelta, focusing on designing organisations and leaders for the cyber-physical age. He is also Chairman of the Aurora Education Foundation, providing accelerated development opportunities for Australia’s most promising Indigenous scholars, and a member of the Amnesty International 2020 Council.)