Power skills, not hard skills, lead companies to success

September 14, 2022

Garment factory workers in India who received training in power skills like time management, problem-solving, communication, and good teamwork were 12% more productive. The same study suggests that the accrued productivity from these workers resulted in a 250% return on investment in the factory.

Most companies understand that to be successful, they need to focus just as much on employee power (or ‘soft’) skills as digital and technical capabilities. Though hard skills remain important, the agility and creativity with which employees can solve complex problems and face challenges are equally important. 

The Missing Skills 

The gap between the skills employees have now and what they’ll need in the future is becoming more prominent. 87% of executives said they are already experiencing a skills gap in their workforce or expect to see it emerge in the coming years. This gap is fueled by market and technology trends driving ongoing digital transformation across industries. 

Behavioral traits that emphasize connection and humanity, such as curiosity, creativity, empathy, problem-solving, and communication, are being recognized for helping us deal with rapid change (and its implications) in today’s fast-paced world. Looking to the future of work, a World Economic Forum (WEF) report suggested that the top skills to get ahead that organizations will look for are:

The ability to inspire and lead through complex situations has always been an asset. And in recent years, the pandemic heightened our need for collaboration and to find new ways to do so. As such, softer traits are now power skills in their own right — they are not only valuable assets but crucial ones. 

Power Skills 

Whereas hard skills are centered around “doing” and concrete actions, power skills focus on “being.” Hard skills are constantly changing with new developments and technologies, which means they can quickly become obsolete as they must be updated continuously. 

On the other side, power skills deal with how you feel, think, and rationalize, and they are less simple to learn. Despite taking more time and effort to obtain, their transferability means that once understood, they have longevity and are widely applicable to complex situations. To be a well-rounded professional in 2022, you need both skillsets to succeed.

While critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and creativity have always been assets to a CV, today, these traits are taking center stage. It is no longer a bonus for employees to have these skills. Now, they are talents that organizations desperately need. 

Power skills in companies we love(d)

Think about the most successful companies back in the 90s and early 00s. Companies such as Blockbuster, Xerox, and Blackberry were at the top of their industries. They had money, resources, and recognition, yet failed to keep up with emerging trends and customer needs. These companies failed to innovate. They made non-data-driven decisions without proper user research and were ultimately usurped by younger companies and those that had been able to evolve. 

On the other hand, companies like Amazon, IKEA, and Apple focus on building a human-centered culture. Their company cultures are famed for being driven by innovation, and power skills help them meet needs before the customer is even aware of them. It’s a growth mindset that encourages and even demands these skills to keep ahead of the game and maintain a competitive edge. Power skills help employees reduce stress with improved communication and increased efficiency. Likewise, there are better interactions between the organization and customer, more effectively recognizing consumer desires and developing brand loyalty. 

Learning Power Skills

Corporate learning opportunities are vital for employee development and satisfaction. They’re also a perfect opportunity to practice applying power skills to real-life situations. If individuals can continually build their knowledge, skills, and capabilities, it encourages a positive growth mindset, helping them own their development journey and address any challenges. 

Fostering a lifelong learning and personal development culture helps employees simultaneously acquire and refine their power and hard skills. Ultimately, the trends reported by the WEF demonstrate the value of both skillsets in employee development and illustrate why companies should do more to equip employees with both. 

Equally, employees who feel fulfilled in their work are less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere, and satisfaction increases, thus reducing churn rate. In 2022, workers look for employers that invest in employee development and see organizations pushing forward their career development as crucial.

Companies are finally realizing the need to develop human and customer-centric business practices and see how lifelong learning can be a pathway to unlocking employee potential for long-term and mutual benefits. 

Ready to power up your team? Book a discovery call to learn more about upskilling and corporate learning opportunities.

Ana Bocard
Marketing Specialist

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