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article imageThe five 'super skills' that today’s workforce needs: Interview Special

By Tim Sandle     Apr 4, 2018 in Business
New research from the Institute for the Future has uncovered a knowledge gap highlighting five “super skills” that could change the future of work. To understand these skills further, Digital Journal spoke with Steven Kramer, CEO of WorkJam.
From enhancing digital fluency to embracing coworkers’ many cultures, many of the key skills called out in the report needed for tomorrow are potentially above and beyond the technical expertise found in many firms. As the “super skills” gap grows, more companies will be competing for workers who possess these competencies.
To gain an insight into the five “super skills” needed for future employment, Steven Kramer, CEO of WorkJam, an employee engagement application, explains more.
Digital Journal: The first super skill is ‘get credit for everything’. What is meant by this?
Steven Kramer: Knowledge of our industry is more difficult to assess in an interview because you can’t simply hand someone an exam to see how much they know about our topic, our customers or industry trends. Rather, to test candidates on their domain expertise, we present them with a series of scenarios followed by behavioral interview questions. This allows us to gauge how much the candidate knows about our space.
In addition to asking questions that are specific to situations the candidate would encounter in their work, we also review the candidates list of references to confirm they have solid industry experience.
Unlike the first type of resource I mentioned, the second one requires a very specific skill set. For example, software developers at WorkJam don’t necessarily need deep domain expertise, but they do require the right technical skills to advance our product forward in the marketplace.
The interview process for a development role involves multiple rounds of interviews with other developers. Then, candidates will take an in-depth skills test to ensure they haven’t overstated their skills on their resumes.
DJ: The second super skill is ‘upgrade your digital fluency’. What does this entail?
Kramer: We encourage employees to embrace technology. It’s the foundation to what we do as a software company. For instance, automation isn’t something that is a threat to our employees. It actually empowers our employees, as it’s a tool we use in development for things like quality assurance. In years past, quality assurance was done manually, but today it’s much more automated. We train our teams to see how automating some of our QA processes can free them up to focus on higher value activities and projects.
While we’re constantly looking for technology solutions that can help boost internal productivity, I do worry there’s such a thing as too much tech. This typically comes in the form of too many communication channels. Many companies have up to six or more different messaging, training and collaboration apps, which actually hinders what these solutions were intended to do. That’s why we strive to limit the amount of communication tools we use.
It’s also the foundation and intent of our product for non-desk workers. It’s about removing sludge (in this case, redundant applications), so that we can move faster as an organization. We train teams to see the value in being agile — And, how too many tools, disparate systems and communication channels can slow us down.
DJ: The third super skill you mention is ‘connect the dots to make change’.
Kramer: Information sharing across the organization needs to be seamless. Whether it be across offices, departments or teams, employers need to introduce systems that can help employees achieve full alignment with the company’s objectives. If the leadership team isn’t communicating their vision to their frontline employees, they will have teams that are moving in different directions. This is why companies can’t advance forward — You need to move in a single trajectory if you’re going to progress.
This is the idea behind WorkJam. Using our digital workplace, employers can seamlessly engage with their non-desk (or hourly) employees to unleash the power of their workforce, whether it be communicating about a new customer loyalty program, assigning tasks, managing schedules, offering an openshift marketplace or rewarding associates. It’s such a simple way to bring an entire organization together — Employees can get everything they need from an app on their mobile device or tablets at their location.
DJ: The fourth super skill is ‘grow your multicultural dexterity’. How does this work?
Kramer: A big mistake that many employers make is becoming too narrow in their hiring. Or, in other words, they hire all the same type of people.
Just last week, I was in a meeting with a group of developers. In the room, we brought together representatives from France, India, Canada and the US who are all contributing to a project. Bringing this team of developers together helps our employees grow their multicultural dexterity and also architect a system which is global ready.
If you don’t hire people with different backgrounds, your solutions will become too singularly focused. This is a problem, especially if you’re a global organization. You need a well-rounded workforce to deliver a well-rounded product that meets the needs of a diverse customer base.
The industries we serve like retail, healthcare or manufacturing are also very diverse. And, I’m not exclusively referring to age, gender or ethnic diversity. We have customers in developing countries, for instance, whose workers have low literacy rates. Because of this, we’ve developed a solution that can support frontline workers despite whatever challenges their teams are up against.
DJ: The fifth and final super skill is titled ‘grow caring at the core’. How does this work in the business setting?
Kramer: Everything we do, we do as a team. For us to be successful, the team has to win, not only the individual. When we have a big initiative, every employee must rally around it, whether it’s a product launch or feature release. We build camaraderie during weekly happy hours, team bonding retreats and even office ping pong games.
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