Fantastic skills and where to find them

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The magical origins of my title might have evaded some readers, but I stand by the mythical analogy.

Whilst some skills are easily identified and documented, others require a little more coaxing and are, concerningly, increasingly at risk of extinction. Of course there are hard skills, which are often hard-won.

Demand forecasting, capacity planning and project management are all disciplines which can be taught, and for which there are established (if sometimes divergent) approaches. But it’s the soft skills, often overlooked and underappreciated, which underpin so much of what we do. Whilst a project manager might employ a standardised method, it’s the engagement factors which are critical to delivering a successful result.

Although individuals generally understand deadlines and Gantt charts, they respond better to high-quality communication and engagement. One soft skill which is particularly important to our industry is adaptability. Being flexible and open to change is critical to success. This has always been keenly relevant when looking at strategic direction:

  • How can we best respond to changing markets?
  • How do we harness emerging technologies?
  • How should we diversify our offering to maintain and increase sales?

However, it’s important to acknowledge how critical adaptability is on a more ‘micro’ level as well. I’ve worked with many different teams across many industries, and I often find that whilst this skill is championed in the Boardroom (at the ‘macro’ level), it can be overlooked at the coal face. We expect our strategic thought-leaders to be adaptable, but we don’t give our colleagues the space or the skillsets they need to respond to directional changes.

Paddy MacBrant’s article here, considers how to adapt to our customer’s needs to deliver what they want, when they want it, at the lowest possible cost to operate.

If you take one thing away, I’d suggest you take some time to think about the soft skills within your team – what are they naturally gifted at that you can celebrate, harness and redeploy? On the flip side, what skills do they need some coaching on? Or where might you need to bring in experience and ability from outside your team? There’s nothing inherently wrong with not having the right skillset – it’s not recognising and tackling the problem that causes long-term issues, and reduces your chances of success.

How to have valuable engagement with automation suppliers from the get-go here



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