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Skills upgrading and considerations

Question - in the last say two years how many of you have taken the time to seriously “self audit” your current skill set? This was not a question that was asked 10+ years ago because if you were employed full time, this was something the employer supposedly looked after through workshops and training development programmes. Whilst that personal development is still in place there is now a greater responsibility on YOU to map out and upgrade your skill set for personal development.

In the distant past once you had completed school, university and maybe professional exams that was the last time most people sat an exam staying within their chosen field until retirement. That approach will no longer cut it.

There has been an explosion in extra curricular training across both academic, vocational training not to mention social/hobby development. This has, and is being driven, by employers globally looking for fresh approaches and new ideas to keep moving forward in the face of increasing competition.

New ideas, thoughts, theories, tests and approaches are becoming more frequent. What we are looking at here is the skill set you are likely to need for your current role, your next role and what you ultimately want to achieve. Whatever your discipline sales, marketing, HR, operations, finance etc there will be the need to ensure that the technical/functional knowledge is current and up to date i.e. the hard skills.

First, regardless of your current job ask yourself these four questions and be honest otherwise the only person you will mislead is yourself.

What do I like doing and do well
What do I like doing and not do well
What don’t I like doing and do well
What don’t I like doing and not do well

Second take a look at your previous performance appraisals which should have identified areas for improvement. Have they been addressed? - If not why not?

Third, have a talk with your boss and your HR department for further input into your development needs. If your company is unable or unwilling to assist then it is down to you to take responsibility.

Fourth, seek out people who already “occupy” your next level move both within your current company and through colleagues in other companies. This will give you not only a cross referencing opportunity and enable you to ask them for their experiences of what they think you will need. This could save you both time and avoid errors. There is nothing like drawing on experience from which you can learn. Money does not buy you experience.

Fifth to provide you with greater insight knowledge take a personality indicator test. The most reliable is Myers Briggs (MBTI) and provides important information that will help you understand yourself and assist you in your dealings with others.

This leads into a critical area for your self development. The focus over the years has been the functional/technical skills i.e. hard skills that I mentioned above. Increasingly employers are looking for a combination of hard and soft skills. Soft skills are the ability to effectively communicate which leads on to being able to make effective decisions, practice sound teamwork and be a solution provider amongst many others. If you need convincing on this fact, the London Business School has changed its MBA programme based on a survey of 100 CEO’s none of whom highlighted hard skills as a prerequisite from London Business School graduates. They wanted to see a greater proportion of soft skills – which I believe is telling.

In summary, recognise that personal development is necessary to stay in front of the competition. Be clear what your skill set is now and what it will need to be upgraded to for the future. Research the market for the relevant skills provider. Be prepared to commit time and money as personal development is neither an overnight sensation nor a quick fix. If you want to differentiate yourself in the market then your skill set both hard and soft will need to be up to date.

On the other hand you can always stay with your current skill set and hope it will see you through. That is rather like putting S$50,000 in a biscuit tin, placing it under the bed and expect it will be worth S$60,000 in 3 years time – dream on!



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