Humans vs Machines: Guest Blog by Dimitra Darra Managing Director at TalenD Consultants

“You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you’’. This is the pillar of Heraclitus Philosophy from 500 BCE and in today’s world it is more relative than it’s ever been.

This world is moving forward and the new paradigm is here. The change has been forced by technology, as it has affected work and life in general with the speed of light, and the Digital R-evolution has come to stay and grow. 

As the pace of digital transformation in the workplace accelerates, the next decade will pose challenges for employees, as they are pushed more quickly into different types of jobs and teams. Even by the end of 2020, the workplace will be a different reality and the challenge of the Human factor, which adds value to organizations, will be substantial. 

Since mid-2019 most of the market insight paints a grey picture for the future of work and how digitization and automation will affect the current work status quo. 

Dimitra Darra – TalenD Consultants, Managing Director

Demands are changing rapidly, futurists say. Jason Wingard, dean of Columbia University School of Professional Studies, believes some skills will stop being relevant.  “You are going to have to look at the market and keep abreast of what are transferable skills,” he says. “You will need to measure yourself against that and ask yourself, ‘Do you have what it takes to be competitive?’” – Source Financial Times

What is important to highlight here is the term “Transferable Skills”.

But first thing’s first. The primary definition of Skill is “the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance”. Until Recently the main focus of candidates, employees, and employers in the domain of work has been on the technical skillset (known as “hard skills”).  This skillset involves the ability of understanding and mastering a specific activity that involves methods, processes, procedures, and techniques. Personally, I will admit- as a representative of Generation Y with 12 years of experience in various business settings- that the Hard Skillset was the norm in an era when the only quantifiable skillset and technology could not replace the Human factor.

Since mid-2019 most of the market insight paints a grey picture for the future of work and how digitization and automation will affect the current work status quo. 

During the Covid-19 crisis, we have been reading about the “new normal” every day, coming to effect in a time that thousands of jobs are about to be “not required” and workers/ employees are about to be made irrelevant if they don’t have or can’t learn new (technical) skills. 

However, this focus on hard skills misses the point. In an economy that desperately needs more and more new skills, refreshed more and more often, what becomes most important is not the skills themselves, but the human capabilities that demonstrate the ability to learn, apply and effectively adapt. 

Why? Because Humans have an important role to play in creating value to the organizations that will create the future. Decision Making and Leadership, cannot be replaced. Machines cannot build relationships, embrace communication, and understand the variable needs of other humans, or be in a position of developing creative and imaginative new approaches. These activities, unlike typical skills, are broadly applicable across fragmented needs and markets, as well as overtime. 

And here is where “Transferable Skills” are come to the top of the Winner Podium. 

Transferable skills are the skills that allow people to transfer and apply knowledge from one job to another, from one situation to another. These are skills that people have developed, established, and refined over time. These can include adaptive and critical thinking, teaming, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence. To use a common term, we are talking about Soft Skills; the combination of interpersonal people skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes, and EQ among others. Those are what make people unique and irreplaceable. 

The good news is that we all have Soft Skills, and we can always develop them and master them. But what are the Top 5 Soft skills the market and the world require for Talents to thrive? What are those qualities that can make Leaders a source of inspiration? What business culture can we cultivate in order to create employees that act with agility and accountability?

Number #1     Decision- Making 

It’s the so-called art of solving complex problems in the day-to-day operational environment, during critical situations, and at the moment of crisis.

Mastering Decision Making means taking control of your environment, both at work and in life. Decision Making has a tremendous impact on stress reduction, gives people the power to manage daily tasks, prioritize, manage their time better, and as a result, increase their productivity and deliverable. 

Making a decision means considering and measuring stakeholders’ needs, collecting data and using observation. Self-discipline and leadership skills inspire and motivate commitment into action, and this is what the decision-making process offers to individuals. DM skills cross all disciplines and are transferable to any job or setting.  Don’t forget: decisions define our future. 

Number #2     Leadership: People Management  

Why? Because as we described above, Human Capital cannot be replaced when talking about the 5Cs:

•    Creativity and Innovation

•    Comprehension– Understanding the Needs for now and the future

•    Communication– Human communication channels 

•    Collaboration – Cooperating better based on team dynamics

•    Conflict management– Optimizing Differences and Cultural Diversity

Number #3       Emotional Intelligence

How much of an impact does emotional intelligence have on your professional success? The short answer is MEGA! EQ determines interaction with people, the ability to be creative, visualize possibilities, generate alternative solutions, negotiate and apply EMPATHY

EQ is a powerful way to focus your energy on one direction with an amazing outcome. According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to explain and make emotional intelligence well known into the public, there are five key elements to it:

•    Self-awareness

•    Self-regulation

•    Motivation

•    Empathy

•    Social skills

Thinking about EQ broadly and by definition, we can say that this is the quality and capability allows people develop multiple soft skills (see image below). 

EI as Skills Foundation TDC. 1

emotional intelligence EQ skills

Number #4     Critical Thinking and Cognitive Flexibility

Critical thinking might be described as the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Fundamentally, critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner, rather than a passive recipient of information. 

Critical thinkers thoroughly question ideas and assumptions, rather than accepting them at face value.  Critical thinkers are needed in a business setting more than ever before, and this is because they can be disruptive, challenge the old, reflect on the current, and predict the future. Thinking out of the box can be innovating, Critical thinkers are able to identify, analyze, and solve problems systematically, rather than by intuition nor base their judgment on past experience.

Someone with critical thinking skills can:

•    Understand the links between ideas

•    Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas

•    Recognize, build, and evaluate arguments

•    Approach problems in a creative way

•    Reflect on the justification of their assumptions, beliefs, and values

This is what makes us “Human Beings’’, right? (The rational Animal) 

Number #5     Adaptability

Going back to the fundamentals, I will repeat myself quoting Heraclitus again; “The only constant thing is Change”. What does it take to survive in a continuously changing environment? You guessed right!  ADAPTING to the new normal. 

Having said that, I will continue to use some of my favorite quotes and sayings that give meaning to any context around change, survival, and adaptability. 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” 

(No, it is not Charles Darwin; it is Leon C. Megginson, Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana State University, that said it back in 1963, giving a realistic interpretation of the Darwinian theory, by taking the science of life to the business arena dimension.)

Adaptability is the ability to change to fit new circumstances – it is a crucial skill for leaders, and an important competency when it comes to emotional intelligence. It is about understanding the context, the diversity in a room, that the need for doing things differently may require getting out of our Comfort Zone, but at the same time allowing people to start learning. So encompassing adaptability helps you grow within the business and the world. 

For me, the business should aim to bridge its skills gaps by prioritizing on creating an environment that identifies, develops, and cultivates people’s soft skills (the human capabilities). Hiring and investing into soft skillset, rather than traditional skills, takes courage and a non-traditional mindset but indeed will add business value, creating a workable working environment. We invite you to take the leap by trying to adopt new approaches and tools. 

How? Well, we have some good news for you. Not only Hard Skills can be measured! By the help of AI and technology the traditional psychometric assessments have now transformed to psychometric tools aiming to measure soft skills and make the assessment process an experience.  At the moment, there are a lot of software solutions in the market for businesses to explore, depending on their needs. 

As for us, well yes, we have a preference! We love been ahead of the game- that’s why we choose assessing and measuring skills via platforms that combine science and fun! 

Gamification it is!  See you at the “New Normal”. 

Dimitra Darra – TalenD Consultants, Managing Director

Do you wanna test your softskills? Play the game now!