Social Skills a Priority for the Future of Industry

Last week, I wrote about the importance of creating a culture of coaching within your organization to foster the leadership capabilities of your employees. Today, many experts are suggesting that social skills, like those developed in the coaching process, will be even more important in a world where machines — computers and robots — are universally employed.

That’s what I’ve been reading and sharing from Fortune Magazine Senior Editor Geoff Colvin in Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will (Portfolio, 2015). A look at research from leading consulting firms explains why:

  • The Towers Watson consulting firm and Oxford Economics research firm asked employers in 2012 which skills they’ll need most over the next five years. Employers’ top priorities include:
  • Relationship-building
  • Teaming
  • Co-creativity and brainstorming
  • Cultural sensitivity and diversity management

These are right-brain social skills. It’s important to note that survey respondents did not cite business acumen, analysis or other left-brain thinking skills.

  • Other research supports this finding. The McKinsey Global Institute reveals that “interaction jobs” were “the fastest-growing category of employment in advanced economies” between 2001 and 2009. More specifically:
  • Transaction jobs (bank teller, checkout clerk) decreased by 700,000 in the United States.
  • Production jobs decreased by 2.7 million.
  • Doctors, teachers and other highly interactive jobs increased by 4.8 million.
  • Historically, the most skilled and educated U.S. workers were assured the high-salaried jobs. But researchers at the University of British Columbia and York University found a decline in demand in 2000—one that has steadily dipped over the last 15 years.

Inflation-adjusted wages for U.S. college graduates have stagnated. We cannot suggest that education is no longer valued, but it’s obviously no longer enough to guarantee success.

So from what I’m learning, there’s a big shift in the qualities employers seek to fill job positions. They seem to be looking more at who a person is, and how well they interact and work with others — not just what a person has accomplished, their education, experience and technical skills.

If this is true, then I see a need for even more people to work with a professional coach to improve social skills and become the best person they can be.

What’s your opinion? Do you see this happening already? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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