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Your 2020 Skill Stack

Recent events have proven that we can work in different patterns, locations, and virtually.

16 of the top 25 skills searched on LinkedIn did not exist 5 years ago, and that was before the Covid-19 pandemic.

So, what does your skill set of the future look like?

Like most folks my social feeds and inbox are awash with courses, suggestions and skills I should be focused on, but like all development it’s not a one size fits all approach.

Consider it a pick and mix, where you need to select and curate the optimal combination that both addresses your challenges but also positions you to align your ambitions for the future.

I wanted to pick out and summarise some improvements that I have been thinking about.

They are in no particular order, after all who am I to tell you to focus on one over another. Also, it’s not exhaustive as job and sector specificity are key.

These are the areas that have caught my attention and I am focused on right now:

Be Creative

There is always a solution if you are prepared to work for it.

For some of us creativity may sound like something reserved only for those who paint or play music but we can all be creative. Think of it in terms of solution design, that does not sound like such a creative pursuit but it certainly is.

As one of my favourite Peloton instructors often quotes ‘we are striving for progress, not perfection’.

I recently read an HBR article that stated:

‘Perfectionists are often the ones who arrive at amazing, creative solutions because all the standard options have something in their negative columns. Even when settling seems like a logical decision, they refuse to’

Perhaps aiming for a bit of perfection is no bad thing, but it does not happen by osmosis!

Go exercise that muscle, I try and write down 5 ideas every day, something I learnt from the James Altucher podcast where he carries a waiters pad around with him to capture such things.

I’ll be honest it don’t always manage this but my intention is always there. Often these are rambling ideas but when I apply it to work it really stretches me. Can I come up with 5 solutions to the client request, in reality perhaps 3 only are valid and presentable but the process helps define the outcome.

Be a Problem Solver

Two ears, one mouth

It sounds like such an easy trait to have but in reality it is far from it. How often do you want to reach for the easy solution, even if it’s not the right one? We have all been there at times. For most roles this is arguable the most important skill to work on.

Don’t be satisfied with the status quo – offer challenge.

Sometimes simply do the obvious. Maybe there is not a reason why it has not been asked or done before, try and figure out how to use the functionality that already exists. Sometimes you don’t need to come up with something new, rather use that something in a more effective manner.

Another approach is to place yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders or clients. Be your own user – when defining systems for others you must first understand them yourself; define, specify and build as if you were the user.

Shorten this chain – this will likely result in more accurate and effective solutions. Apply this to working groups, meetings and join the dots. We are in a period of immense change, change that whilst enforced, happened rapidly. Use this momentum and harness the efficiency of speed.

Explain the thought process – avoid jumping straight to the end solution – there is a danger in overly focusing on this and you miss the connective tissues that leads you to the solution. Explain the thought process, how you get from A to B and why. This is how you get buy-in and build solutions that work.

Be Emotionally Intelligent

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020.

Firstly, what is EI…

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others.

EI comprising four components:

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship management

Within each are competencies, learned and learnable capabilities allow outstanding performance at work or as a leader:

According to an article in FastCompany these are why hiring managers say they often value emotional intelligence more highly than IQ:

1. THEY CAN HANDLE PRESSURE HEALTHILY

2. THEY UNDERSTAND AND COOPERATE WITH OTHERS

3. THEY’RE GOOD LISTENERS

4. THEY’RE MORE OPEN TO FEEDBACK

5. THEY’RE EMPATHETIC

6. THEY SET AN EXAMPLE FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW

7. THEY MAKE MORE THOUGHTFUL AND THOROUGH DECISIONS

These all make sense and you can see why they are highly valued and sought after. They are also things that we can all work on and improve. For example:

Involve others – The more complex the problem, the higher the need for a wide diversity of thought. You need people with lots of different frames of reference looking at the problem. The same thinking will bring the same solutions.

Be aware that no one knows everything, but be careful on when to use this. If there is an immediacy you need to respond to get stuff done and not over procrastinate.

Be enthusiastic; you give up a lot of time to work so get the best out of it. Don’t waste your time or the time of others.

Ask as well as answer – if someone asks you a question, ask them what they would do, what do they think. It can show you insights into missing parts, or something they could have overlooked.

Ask for feedback, constantly! The better you understand the better you can serve.

Be Virtual

Remote working is not new, but it has now become the exclusive mode of working for much of the world.

Never before have so many people, at all different levels, been working in virtual teams.

Our ability to continue to get work done therefore collectively hinges on making virtual teams function effectively. We are now challenged with how to replicate the high-quality and effective work relationships we have in the office.

Communication Is Key

Effective communication is important within a virtual team. Open, honest communication not only helps you to avoid misunderstandings, but it will also increase your effectiveness.

Context is everything.

We don’t always know someone’s style.

We must use our past experiences, cultural, organisational and social norms, observations, judgment, etc. to give us clues about when to use one style vs. another.

Now apply this to a virtual communication, must everything be a video call? It certainly has its merits but also some downsides too. Rather, this is more about the appropriate format to use. Know your audience, set your intentions.

But…when you don’t know, ask…….

  • What can I share with you today?
  • What would be of greatest value to you?
  • What would you like to hear about?
  • What interests you about…?

It builds and maintains trust.

Communication relies on two critical factors

            1) What does the other person want to hear?

            2) How do they need to hear it?

Play to the strengths of your preferred style but also recognise your blind spots

Getting results from your communications relies on giving people the right kind of data and presenting that data in a way that makes sense for them

For your messages to be effective – need to consider the audience, the context and the desired result

When you don’t know be prepared with all types of information (emotional and logical) and be prepared to give headlines or details.

Stay safe, stay curious and keep learning

About this author

Matt Fotherby

Financial Markets, Compliance & Regulations

Matt Fotherby

Matt is our Founder and a passionate trainer.

His interest in education stems from his 10 years as an Account Executive looking after Global Hedge Fund and Asset Management clients. This led Matt to join the coveted Financial Markets Education team at UBS, a unique in-house education team that specialised in running a curriculum of financial market and product classes for both UBS employees and clients. Matt was responsible for building out the client offering; managing programs, creating content and teaching courses.

As financial markets entered a significant period of regulatory change Matt pivoted to take his client experience and market knowledge to focus on Regulations and Compliance topics.

Look who’s back, back again!

The most recent of these in late 2019 took a slightly different approach hosting Conduct Roundtable sessions with 18 wholesale banks. Each was represented by a group of 10 staff at a ‘Vice President’ (VP) level of seniority or similar. They came to refer to this group as ‘the Engine Room’, acknowledging their importance to firms.

It’s a good read and I thoroughly recommend it but if you don’t have time to sift through the 34 pages I’ve picked out some key highlights and comments for you to ponder over.

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