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New Work Smarts 3 of 3

Posted by
Rebecca Livesey

‘Throw away the briefcase you’re not going into the office. You can kiss your benefits goodbye too. And your new boss won’t look much like your old one. There’s no longer a ladder, and you may never get to retire, but there’s a world of opportunity if you figure out a new path’

Time Magazine May 25 2009

So what is this new path and how do we manage it for ourselves, and lead others through it in organisations. This is the final of a series of blogs about the New Work Smarts needed. The first two articles are here and here.

Jan Owen AM, CEO Foundations for Young Australians talks about having a portfolio of skills covering equally Foundational Skills, Technical Skills, Enterprise Skills and Career Management Skills.

The first two skill sets are what you would expect – Foundational skills are literacy, language ability, and numeracy. Technical skills are what you need for specific tasks, roles or industries or certifications. And to date in business (and education) we may have overly focussed on these. They are typically ‘individual’ focussed ie they are the tangible skills that you bring.

The other two skillsets show how important is it to look beyond just what we bring, but how we use the skills with others, and so we move much more into the intangible skill sets.

Enterprise skills cover our transferable skills ie our ability to problem solve, communicate, work in a team and our creativity. Career Management is about how we navigate this new world, understanding that the ‘ladder’ has gone, and a lot of our success will be how we develop and articulate our intangible, transferable skill set.

So as leaders in our own life, and as leaders for others what do we need to start doing now.

Firstly take stock of your own skill set. Do you rely too heavily on WHAT you can do, rather than HOW you do it? As we move into this ever more complex world of work our ability to connect, collaborate, and work with and through others is going to be one of the key skills needed.

Secondly work out how you describe and articulate your transferable skills. Make them more ‘tangible’ by describing the results you get because of them. And also show you understand the nuances of varying skill levels by showing how you have developed these skill sets. For example articulate the difference between low level and high level collaboration skills and how you upskilled yourself and the difference you see in results.

Thirdly if you are a leader, make sure the balance of performance conversations with your team is leaning towards their transferable skills rather than just what they do in their job. Use every opportunity to support your people moving into different roles or projects which use these skills rather than  limit them to what they know right now. And make sure you have upskilled yourself to have performance conversations around behaviours and values, not just the content of their work.

In this way we are developing our career management and enterprise skills so that we are prepared for the ever changing (& exciting!) world of work.

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