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This article was published 12-02-2019

Trends 2019: 7 Skills You Can’t Be Without

Did you think 2019 would just be more of the same? Think again! With ever-changing customer demands, new ways of working and fast-paced developments, here are the 7 essential skills you need for 2019 (and beyond) – and what our experts have to say about them.

In the years ahead, different skills will become important. Why? The added value of the human element is changing. AI, technology, big data and digitisation are taking over repetitive tasks. We’re also living and remaining in the workforce longer than ever before. As a result, there’s a shift taking place in the activities we focus on as human beings. The definition of a job as we know it is changing. And that calls for different skills.

On top of all this, the way we interact with each other is constantly in flux. Thanks to digital media, we are globally connected. Our social skills aren’t always up to par when it comes to communicating effectively across national borders. How can we bridge the gaps?

These are the skills for success in 2019

#1. Problem-solving

‘With all the help of data and technology, you wouldn’t expect problem-solving to be such a crucial skill any more. You’d think we wouldn’t have to solve problems ourselves these days, right? This is true, but only to a limited extent. We can definitely leave all our simple, repetitive tasks to technology, but there are other problems that we’ll just have to keep solving ourselves.

Even if it were possible, should we allow technology to solve all our problems for us? Who defines the problem in that case? Who decides whether the solutions are good enough? Can you work things like intuition and ethics into a computer programme?

This is another area where we’ll probably see collaboration between human beings and technology. Technology will support us and give us options, while the human being evaluates and decides.’

Juan Tates, Change Manager. Juan is inquisitive and curious by nature. He’s always on the look-out for what the latest technologies can do for the learning processes of individuals, teams and organisations.

#2. Creative thinking

‘There’s a clear link between problem-solving and creative thinking. This is because of the nature of the world we’re living in: more volatile and less predictable than ever. What does that mean? There’s a much greater need to tackle issues quickly and “differently”. We’re increasingly confronted with problems, customer demands and competitors that we’ve never had to deal with in the past. How do you cope with this?

The answer is creative thinking. At the end of the day, you want to be (and stay) ahead of your competitors. Creative companies are successful and taking the market by storm. Think of a disruptive company like Uber or the ever-surprising Dutch e-commerce company Coolblue. They have succeeded where traditional retailers have failed: by responding to a changing context in a unique way.

I’m constantly hearing my clients tell me, “Our strategy is that we don’t know what our strategy will be in three years.” Developments and changes are nothing new, but the pace has become much more rapid. That’s why, as an individual and an organisation, you have to think out of the box.’

Ruud Kwetters, Consultant/Product Manager. Born and raised in the South of the Netherlands, Ruud is a passionate consultant who’s made an art form out of creative thinking. He’s always watching out for new ideas and solutions to develop people and organisations.

 #3. Teamwork

‘By working together, people are much smarter and stronger. It’s hard to get a clear overview of the topics we’re dealing with today, because of their complexity and the speed of change. Joining forces with others helps you get ahead. To me, that also means optimally using the diversity among the members of any team.

Working together effectively starts with identifying and then getting the most out of each team member’s personal strengths. It also means connecting the values, ambitions and talents of individuals and teams. The result is strong, sustainable teamwork.

Teamwork can present some challenges too. It isn’t always easy. The key is to look at underlying causes. Many times, teams are lacking an inspiring vision, clear goals, well-defined roles and tasks, effective procedures or strong interpersonal relationships. Or perhaps it’s a combination of these factors.’

Camiel Gielkens, CEO. Camiel is the connector between strategy and people. His goal is to reach people’s hearts and rally them towards a shared goal, with each person using his or her own strengths to add value. He loves being part of many different teams every day. He even prefers to play tennis in doubles.

#4. Taking ownership

‘Taking ownership is essential if you want to maintain your vitality and resilience as a professional. By taking ownership in your work, you proactively ensure that your job (which is subject to change) is properly aligned with your own needs, talents and passions. This keeps your work meaningful to you. And keeps you attractive to employers.

Taking ownership is all about making strong choices. Choosing what to focus on and what not, based on what you think is important in your work and life.

For managers, it may sound a bit risky to give your employees more freedom. But this is absolutely a must if you want to boost your team’s performance. By taking ownership of their own work, your team members gain the energy and inspiration to make a unique contribution. That’s because they are better equipped to match their tasks with their personal qualities. This makes your employees more agile, resilient and enthusiastic.’

Dr. Jessica van Wingerden, MBA MCC, Chief Science Officer, a.k.a. the ‘Data Boss’. Jessica is conducting scientific research on taking ownership in meaningful work and its effects on vitality, enthusiasm and sustainable engagement within organisations.

#5. Negotiating

‘We interact with more and more people than ever before, whether it’s customers, suppliers or stakeholders from near and far. Digitisation and technology have made the world smaller. That means learning to navigate the diversity of opinions, ideas and beliefs. It’s no surprise that the World Economic Forum singles out negotiating as the top skill of the future. Digitisation may make the distances between us smaller, but it does not erase our (cultural) differences.

The only way to bridge that gap is to listen, show empathy, be open-minded and look for creative solutions together. That means negotiating. What are the real issues at stake? What is important to the other person? Which “language” is he or she speaking? The golden rule is to examine those details. That way, you avoid turning your next negotiation into a Brexit scenario, where both sides come to a complete standstill and a parting of ways seems like the only solution.’

Samer Rashid, Global Client Consultant. Samer comes from a multicultural Arabian-Dutch background and negotiation is part of his DNA. He has travelled extensively for his work and experienced many diverse cultures.

#6. Communication

‘Why is communicating relevant in 2019? Have you ever been in a foreign country and needed to use sign language to explain that your friend has diarrhoea and has sent you on a mission to find medicine? If so, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. No communication, no success.

Communication starts with the art of putting your thoughts into words. But that’s not all. Communication is also about making connections. That’s a different story altogether. Instead of arguing, it’s about asking. Instead of telling, it’s about listening.

Sounds difficult, right? It would appear that way, judging from some of the unsubtle comments you find on Twitter or Facebook. But all is not lost. Even mangled sentences can become direct words, spoken from heart to heart, if we trust each other. It’s always easier to make a more nuanced assessment when the other person is sitting right beside you and listening. Difficult? Not at all! Not if you consider yourself and the other person worthwhile. Start switching off your phone more often and switching on the coffee machine instead.’

Petra Sevinga, Consultant/Trainer/Coach/Author. Petra has made professional communication into her life’s work. Or, as she puts it, ‘My job gives me the freedom to ask tough questions in a way that isn’t uncomfortable, but respectfully confronting.’

#7. Agility

‘Agility is a top priority for many organisations today. Methods like agile, lean and scrum are extremely popular. This makes perfect sense, because these approaches enable constant improvement and innovation. But those are only a few pieces of the puzzle. If you really want to be agile, there are other things you have to take into account. How do you make your organisation and its people agile? Agility is all about developing these capabilities:

  • Vision: which way are we headed?
  • Leadership: lead by example, create a culture of open dialogue
  • Outward focus: what’s going on in the outside world?
  • Agile strategic thinking and action: policy that flexibly adapts to changes
  • Alignment: are your employees delivering on your brand’s promises? Are all your activities in line with your strategy?
  • Innovation: continual improvement and development
  • Setting up your organisation with a business model and company processes
  • Developing agile employees: teamwork and learning agility

Jan-Dirk den Breejen MSc, MA is Corporate Product Manager for Leadership. Jan-Dirk is an innovator on the conceptual level. His focus is the Learning Organisation and combining leadership development, innovation and high-performance organisation (HPO).

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