The value of Human Skills for Tech People
Talent is a global topic of discussion today at organizations. Particularly good talent. So, what does it mean to have good people? Or even great people in your company?
It means to have "a talent" that is continuously upskilling, reskilling and essentially continuously improving, but also in the human skills necessary to lead teams, innovate, and inspire those around them. People that are engaged and thriving in their roles.
Let’s define what we mean by human skills. Human skills or as some refer to as ‘soft skills’ (which in fact are not very soft, but powerful skills required for individuals who want to thrive in the future of work) – including empathy, compassion, emotional intelligence, mental strength (resilience), leadership capabilities, creativity and ability to adapt to changes and do so in an optimistic, future focused way, and with a growth mindset. These are top skills that reports such as Future of Work by McKinsey & Company and World Economic Forum, state as some of the essential skills needed for individuals to maintain their competitive edge in the future.
In our work with technical teams that are great at... well tech skills, what we often see is that although their analytical skills are at a premium and their ability to solve complex technical problems is impeccable – what these tech individuals often miss are these powerful human skills we are describing here. Surely, not everyone wants to become a leader in an organization, but if you do – you cannot go without these human skills. In fact, there is a reason most careers die at middle level. Because most people don’t have the right skills to take them to that next level. Those skills are usually around people skills. As one grows in his or her career, it becomes more about their ability to lead others, inspire their teams, influence stakeholders – aka other humans.
Let's open the Pandora box - Human Skills are not anymore about career progression into higher positions, it is about thriving in our jobs in a fast changing environment dominated by technology. The typical areas that are covered by Human Skills are: how we think, how we manage ourselves, how we interact, and how we lead.
Human skills are skills that cannot be replaced by machines - as it combines personality traits, mindsets, abilities, and experiences that are reflected into long lasting behaviors.
These skills are not something you learn in 2 days trainings; these skills need a continuous learning, practice and application at work and in life. If you look at talent challenges today in organizations, they are around having the right people with skills to drive the future of work forward – that is the gap – and it starts with future leaders. Yes, you need both – technical expertise and leadership skills – but you need to ensure you are investing in these equally and prioritizing these power human skills. While technical skills can be bought easily through skilling or outsourcing; human skills are hard to acquire – as they are highly complex, it take time to learn and are always changing in their scope.
So, the question to you as an individual (and as an organization) - how much are you prioritizing Human Skills in your professional development planning?
Co-authors: Elena Agaragimova and Ivan Palomino