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Preparing your team for the future of work

We live in an age of technological disruptions. Every industry will be affected by Artificial Intelligence on some level. In the past, technical knowledge and skills were often sufficient to get you ahead in most industries, but that’s no longer the case.

We live in an age of technological disruptions. Every industry will be affected by Artificial Intelligence on some level. In the past, technical knowledge and skills were often sufficient to get you ahead in most industries, but that’s no longer the case.  

There are things that company leaders can do to help their teams prepare for a smooth transition in the ongoing race of technological advancement.

Know the implications of AI for your future workforce:

If you are in a managerial or directorship role understanding the impact of AI and automation in general, and machine learning in particular, has to be a priority. It may not feel imminent, but it will hit you from nowhere. One morning you wake up, and someone will have created a new machine-learning algorithm that could put half of your team and maybe even yourself out of work.

Predict the tasks that will be disrupted by automation: It’s imperative that you start thinking about what tasks are a good candidate for automation in your company. Two telltales signs of tasks that can be automated are that

  • they can be defined in terms of “IF…THEN…”
  • they don’t require a huge amount of complex human interaction, it can be automated.

Create new roles based on human skills: Be aware of new roles that you should be creating within your company for effective human-machine collaboration and integration. Another area that new roles are needed is in redefining how we measure human productivity and time. Currently, we compensate people based on the number of hours that they spend at work. This approach was initiated following the Industrial Revolution, and it was not perfect but good enough for then. With the digital revolution, however, we’ve experienced a whole new level productivity and agile working. Now, the AI revolution is threatening to change the dynamics of how we work once again, and yet most companies are still approaching time management like it’s the 1950s!

Reskill your team members: when the need for fast integration of new technologies become a priority in companies, the obvious solution may be to lay off many people in your teams to bring in fresh talent. Sometimes that is indeed the fastest way to respond to the rapid changes. However, this often damages the DNA of a company and hurts the employees mental and emotional wellbeing. Part of the reason for this challenging dynamic is the lack of an ongoing culture of reskilling employees. People get used to doing the same thing every day and become set in their ways. It’s no surprise then that they resist change and struggle when it becomes inevitable. Here are four key (human) skills that your talent need to develop for the age of technological advancement.

Emotional Intelligence: Daniel Goleman, who is one of the pioneers in this area describes it as “the ability to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations, to control impulse, and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep stress from swamping the ability to think, to empathise, and to hope”. (Goleman 1995) In short emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and regulate emotions both in yourself and in others. At least for the foreseeable future machines are unlikely to be able to have subjective experience, and that’s where the intricacies of human relationship give us an edge.

Critical Thinking: The best way to understand critical thinking is to remember that our brain has two different operating modes, the fast mode and the slow mode. The fast mode is our quick fight or flight reactions. The slow mode is where we have more rational thoughts based on our best assessment of a situation. For millions of years of evolution, the fast brain has reigned supreme and is the part that’s present in all animals to some degree. However, what sets us, Homo Sapiens apart from our ancestors is the slow thinking part of our brain where we can understand concepts such as statistics and probability.

Contextual Creativity: Contextual Creativity is different from artistic creativity or other forms of creative pursuit. It is a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the context of other people’s challenges and helping them solve their problems or enhance their experiences. People with this unique skill have the ability to connect the dots between several domains and create new ways of problem-solving and creating value.

Mindfulness: Finally, mindfulness is the foundation and bedrock of all the above skills. Without mindfulness, you can’t develop EI, Critical Thinking, or Contextual Creativity in an optimum way. Take Critical Thinking, for example. When we see someone who always seems to act rationally, we may think that they are highly intelligent, Nobel Prize-winning behavioural economist, Daniel Kahneman, explains that thinking rationally is more about being fully engaged, than anything else. (Kahneman, 2011). Now, being fully engaged simply means being mindful. The real question is do we have the willingness to develop the necessary skills to live and work mindfully and stay fully engaged in our work environment? We may not have a choice, because without these human skills we have a little edge over our machine counterparts. 

Somi Arian, Entrepreneur, award-winning filmmaker and author – Kogan Page

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