PEOPLE AT WORK COLUMN: New Skills In A New World

DO you have what it takes to succeed at work? If it takes you a while before you can honestly say yes to this question, then, it’s time to take stock of your existing skills and competencies.

The new workplace

Today’s formula for success has changed in the last few decades. The knowledge, skills, attitudes, habits and values that have served previous generations no longer meet the demands of a workplace  revolutionized by the Digital Age.  According to Ernie Cecilia, president of EC Business Solutions and Career Center, the world of work is characterized by:

• Wider use of technology

• Flatter organizational structures. Instead of several managers handling small teams, companies employ less managers who have a wider sphere of responsibility and control a larger team.

• Use of team structures rather than permanent groups. Instead of strictly delineated organizational charts, companies use The floating “cells” of people or teams who report to any and all who need to know about the project.

• Faster-paced timelines. The strategic in strategic planning process has shorted to a five-year time frame. In fact, your business assumptions can turn turtle in a span of one year. Scenario planning is the key to planning in a fast-lane world

• Growing use of the information highway which includes Intranets and the Internet. Virtual offices have mushroomed, doing away with the physical limits of a real office and aggravations of actual highway traffic.

• More customer-driven products and services.  Customers are becoming more demanding and discriminating. In response to this, many companies look for employees who are skilled in serving “crabby customers” and even “customers from hell.”

• Global standards, if not global markets. Excellence and world-class are now synonymous

• Rapid and numerous changes

The new worker

Given this situation, Cecilia identified a new set of competencies needed to succeed in the new world of work.

Learning skills. Definitely, when one is faced with change, you can only adapt if you are able to learn quickly and thoroughly the skills needed in the new Corporate Order. You also need the ability to get things done right–not just on time, but faster. In the new world of work, speed and efficiency are the operative words.

Emotional intelligence skills.  Paradoxically, in a world “depersonalized” by technology, only those with good people skills will be noticed.  Email and the Internet may have decreased face-to-face transactions, it has widened the scope of human relations on a global basis–thus making social skills a necessity.

You also need to have the ability to see the forest and the trees. Successful executives have found out that the higher you go up the corporate tower, the more vital it is to have macro-vision and micro-vision. In other words, abstract theories and management policies have to be tested and proven to be effective in the everyday–while the everyday has to be directed towards a larger goal. Thus, nothing beats a hands-on executive or one who manages by walking around or pacing the shop floor.

You also need the inner skills of flexibility, adaptability and ability to thrive on change.  As the chameleon changes its skin to blend with the environment, so must you–while maintaining the integrity of his inner self.

With these challenges in the workplace, coupled with the challenges we working moms face as parents and wives, the world is as tough as frozen meat. So we can chew it and savor it, we need to develop the “teeth” or competencies sharpened by continuous learning and practice. Only by sharpening our cutting edge can we have what it takes to succeed at work and in life.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Published in Metro Working Mom April 2003.

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Founding Editor, People at Work, Business, Phiippine Daily Inquirer

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