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  • Soft Skills in the Age of Automation

    For my first post of 2018 I wanted to start you off with three things that will help you more in your career than possibly anything else you’ve read in the past five years that I’ve been writing these posts.

    Let’s talk about soft skills.

    Soft Skills are critical for career success in the Age of Automation.

    You’ll have to decide if these three things are better than the last 250+ posts I’ve written. (Let me know know in the comments)

    Expertise is Hard Earned

    Everyone has their expertise in something.  Whether you are a technical wiz or an accounting mastermind or an amazing designer.

    These are hard skills. These are skills that you worked very hard to attain. And, kudos to you and congratulations.

    Let’s shift the conversation to talk about soft skills.

    Soft skills are those things that a lot of people know we need and we might think we are pretty good at them too. If you are already a master of Soft Skills … GREAT! Please teach them to others. If not, or if you want to enhance your Soft Skills, read on.

    Request – Share your favorite Soft Skill in the comments

    There is no single set of soft skills that encapsulate everything. But, these three are critical to the your success in a couple of different ways.

    As the world shift towards more of an automated and autonomous society these are skills that humans (currently) exhibit that automatons have yet to reproduce successfully.

    Don’t get me wrong – robots are really “smart” and artificial intelligence is getting smarter all the time. We will get to the point were “thinking machines” can match (and ultimately outpace) their human counterparts. That day will arrive. We need to be ready.

    However, that’s not gonna happen in the next five or 10 years at least on a global scale. Learning to be effective with these three skills can help set you apart and keep you employed as automation continues to surround and infiltrate every job at every level.

    What are these Three Soft Skills?

    1. Critical Thinking
    2. Communication 
    3. Collaboration Abilities

    These are the three skills. Just knowing what they are is a start.

    Developing them is not easy, but it can be done.

    • Critical Thinking – You won’t be able to compete with the raw data access and processing capabilities of a computer. But, you can apply a layer that surrounds that vast amount of data and processing power. This is where your critical thinking skills come into play.
    • Communication – Again, you can’t match the sheer “communications” capabilities of an automated system. But, your ability to infer and realize (or expand) avenues of communication is something that computers haven’t met yet mastered.
    • Collaboration AbilitiesWhat happens if you put a bunch of computers in a room? Well, the semi obvious answer is nothing! What happens if you put a bunch of humans in a room? Well, the semi obvious answer could be nothing. But, people that focus on improving the ability for humans to communicate with other humans can make a significant difference. When combined with the massive amounts of data from computers and automated systems … it creates something that is uniquely human.

    Augmented Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration is a wave of the future

    By focusing on and honing your soft skills … especially these three … you will have a leg up on your role being consumed by automation. However, I do not recommend taking on a Luddite mentality. Keep your eyes open and your mind open to new possibilities. Computer systems continue to advance. Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing will continue to make vast leaps in the coming years. When combined with robotics there will be smart assistants (think Alexa, Siri, and Cortana) that will take on physical forms to assist and augment human behavior and activities.

    These three Soft Skills can set you apart from those automated systems. And, they might open up jobs too.

    You might find business opportunities within these three Soft Skills. While there will be a time when computer systems program and build themselves … that time will not be here for a decade or so. In the interim you may find a great business opportunity in creating the future.

    Building Your Soft Skills

    While there are tons of books and blog posts that have been written to help people build their soft skills there’s nothing quite like just being human.

    In the application of these three skills there will be some that have a natural ability and affinity towards one, two or perhaps all three.

    Those that want to be employed in the future – whether that means self-employed or working for a small or large corporation or working for a governmental agency – will need these three skills.

    Here are a few ideas and areas where you can build your soft skills:

    1. The Soft Skills That Will Get You Hired – Hand written notes, using the <gasp> telephone, and interpreting nuance.
    2. Soft Skills Make a Hard Difference – Taking time to humanize yourself goes a long way.
    3. 6 Steps To Improving Your Current Employees’ Soft Skills – For managers and employees to polish their soft skills.

    Are Soft Skills hard to learn? No. But, they do take practice and they often require slight tweaks. This is one of these areas that sets us apart as humans. We have the ability to apply critical thinking to adjust and adapt our communication and collaboration capabilities.

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    Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey

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    Posted in Career Development, Personal Branding, Reputation Management, Success Strategies
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