Are You Ready for the Future of Work?
By: Joel Leong, Jabil’s Talent Partner Director, Singapore
Not a single day goes by that we don’t hear the word “change” or “disruption” mentioned in the news, conference rooms or water-cooler conversations. The truth is that the world that we live and operate in is experiencing an extraordinary pace of transformation. This is especially true in the manufacturing and technological environments in which Jabil works.
How does that impact you and me? According to multiple resources, three things will be impacted (Deloitte, 2019):
1. The work is adopting a greater use of artificial intelligence (AI).
2. The workplace will be enhanced with new technology and better collaborative tools; traditional workplaces will be radically redefined in terms of where and when work is done.
3. The workforce will be required to include a continuum of talent, ranging from traditional full-time roles to part-time/contract workers and freelancers. Without doubt, the workforce will also need a different set of skills to remain relevant.
So, then, what skills do we build today for the challenges of tomorrow? According to research (Forbes, 2019), there are at least three key things to diversify and prepare us for the future:
Critical Thinking Skills
Scientists believe AI that crosses multiple domains and performs a combination of various complex tasks will take much longer to mature. This is where humans still have an edge because we can ask the tough questions that machines aren’t capable of today. To use our advantage to the fullest extent, we need to continuously sharpen our critical thinking skills. As a start, I found it’s good to start with asking “what-if” questions. It’s a good way to challenge basic assumptions that we take for granted, like “what if there is a way to double our CANCOI in a single year?” and “what if there is another way to manage teams besides the proven work-cell model?”
Empathy and Collaboration Skills
“In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future they’ll be about the heart,” quote from Minoche Shafik, Director, London School of Economics.
The problems that we face in the future will increasingly require creative solutions from a wide variety of sources. Thankfully, creativity and innovation will remain an aspect that cannot be easily automated in the foreseeable future. To promote creative problem-solving capabilities, we have seen a rise in practices such as design thinking.
Yet, these techniques have a starting point in the "heart", which can be seen through the practice of empathy and the ability to be human centered in our problem-solving mindset. Empathy will also be vital in our ability to build trust and foster collaborative relationships. For leaders and managers in Jabil, empathy is also at the heart of servant leadership, which our CEO, Mark Mondello, talks frequently about. Coupled with humility, empathy will greatly increase leaders’ ability to not only listen, but seek out inputs from those whom they lead, thereby enhancing the organizational diversity and team effectiveness.
Growth mindset and learning skills
We have all heard the world “agile” being used frequently in recent times. It is true that, to remain relevant, we must stay malleable in how we perform work, frame new problems and build new skills. To do so, an important starting point is in adopting the growth mindset, which revolves around the belief that one can improve intelligence, ability and performance, regardless of his or her current state, if one puts in the effort.
One of the most obvious ways to practice the growth mindset is to be intentional about my own growth and learning. For instance, I aim to read at least one book a month, and I try to choose books that will enhance my own self-awareness or build my strategic HR capability. After reading a book, I make it a point to share a five-minute summary of what I’ve learned to a colleague or friend during lunch. This recall exercise effectively helps me retain the new knowledge I’ve acquired and share the things I’ve learned to help empower someone else.
The above are but three skills that can make us valuable in the future workplace. What skill is the first one you plan to tackle?