Preparing for the Future You
It’s time to update ourselves and our teams for the increasingly tech-heavy world of work. Are you ready to dial up what makes us human?
Last week I talked about why emotional and social intelligence at work is so important. It’s not a new concept, but the nature of how work is changing (and the need for our working lives to adapt to such a shifting, far more fluid employment scene) means that it definitely warrants a closer, deeper look.
I’ve started a BIG project on how, as employees, freelance consultants, team leaders or bosses, we can and should adapt our work-selves to stay relevant and thrive in Industry 4.0, rather than struggle to keep up. I’m making an assumption here that you’ve heard a lot about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, virtual reality (VR), exponential technologies and the 4th revolution of work – hence why I’m not going into it. BUT if you haven’t, let me know and I’ll rewind in my next blog post to give you a quick whistle stop tour.
Back to where I was: as part of the big project I’m working on. I’ve been busy developing the Future You at Work model to help us embrace and not resist change and to rethink what we have to offer – to our immediate teams, our organisation-wide colleagues, our clients and our partners. I spend intensive days each month working in multinational corporations in various states of flux, and they tell me constantly that their approach needs to change, and that the next three years of preparation are crucial.
Empathy, better listening, questioning, distilling, briefing and influencing skills, more productive (not navel gazing!) self-awareness, a sharper awareness of team dynamics and an ability to cope with the sometimes challenging working styles of ‘opposite’ colleagues – all these have come up time and again in my conversations in the last six months with departmental and team leaders.
The best and really only way to keep yourself prepared for the future is to gain an appetite for lifelong learning. The need for us to take more responsibility for our own professional development, and own it as a concept and as a future-proof tool, is at the heart of this challenge. Not just because it might get you the next promotion or job, but because without a sense of curiosity for how to grow yourself and your ‘offer’, you risk extinction from the workplace.
So, enough about why we need to sharpen up (without me revisiting how jobs themselves are changing in the face of more sophisticated AI), let’s look at the how!
Here’s my Future You at Work (still work in progress) model in its most basic form. At the core is adaptability (how you respond to change), and over the next weeks I’ll offer you new ways to think about ‘professional you’ and I’ll show you how and why everything about the future you at work links back to adaptability.
- In summary, we need to cultivate and hone our emotional and social intelligence and be able to manage ourselves and others better than we do now. This will become more important as we begin to work in an augmented way with machines.
- We will need to address our fear of change (or fear of transition) and THAT will move us from the comfort zone into the stretch zone, enhancing our opportunity for growth & life-long learning.
- The end game is to enhance our adaptability and that of our teams so that we can continually respond to the new and changing world of work.
Today I’ll only touch on the vital roles of identity and purpose within the model.
Our identity is what will give us the resilience to adapt to the changes ahead of us. The content of the work we do will change, so we will need to ensure that our identity is anchored in WHO we are, what our unique talents are and how we show up to the world and what we bring to the table, NOT in WHAT we do. When everything changes around you, who you are and how you do the work won’t change. Your personality doesn’t change, even if the description of your work does. We need an internal locus of identity, rather than describing ourselves according to (and hooking our confidence onto) external factors.
This will, without doubt, give us more resilience. It will equip us to deal with change and remain employable in the face of change.
And so to purpose, the ‘North star’ on my model. If we’re in a world where a job no longer defines us, then what defines us? It’s purpose. Having a clear sense of individual purpose is what will give us direction and meaning in the face of perpetual change. I’ve covered purpose many times, but it’s so important in this discussion that I want to underline it again: it’s not about saving the world or having any great macro mission, it’s simply about being able to articulate better what makes us tick and what motivates us on a daily basis, what makes us distinct and how we bring more of that into what we do. It’s about what people would miss if you weren’t there. What is that separates us from others? What is it about those people we’re inspired by and somehow always want to spend more time with?
Cherish what’s ‘human’!
Of course, we won’t all be replaced by robots, but artificial intelligence (even autonomous intelligence) WILL continue to change our work and IS changing our world.
So, 2018 is the time to put our energy into adapting ourselves to new ways of working. We have to embrace advances in technology whether we want to or not. But most of all, we need to be more distinctly human, be better communicators, focus on relationship building and understand the complexities and nuances of emotion. This is what will widen the gap between machine and man. But it’s not just that. Cultivating our sense of identity and confidence in the face of exponential change is what will make us resilient to that change. It is what will prepare us for more change. It will help us rise above the parapet and see gaps and opportunities in the future that we won’t otherwise see, because we’ll be too busy wishing it was the way it used to be. It’s time to open our eyes, embrace the change and be ready to respond.
How do you think AI will change the future you? And what do you think about my model?