CEO of DeskTime—a time tracking and productivity app for companies and freelancers. He’s also an amateur athlete and father of two.
Global conflict, rapidly developing new technologies and growing competition provide businesses with both new opportunities and challenges. The pandemic broke the stereotype that remote work is unproductive but initiated the Great Resignation. AI tools promise to boost employee productivity but are also making people anxious about their job security. Online DIY tools allow anyone to start their own business in a record-short time, but it’s also becoming increasingly difficult to stand out.
You know the saying: If you can’t change it, embrace it. And one of the ways to embrace the rapidly changing business environment is by upskilling your workforce—teaching your employees new skills that would help them optimize their performance and help your business thrive.
Here are the top three skills we’re promoting on our team right now and how we’re doing it:
1. Analytical Thinking Skills
In the recent report by the World Economic Forum, analytical thinking was tied with creative thinking for the most important skill for employees in 2023. This data was based on a survey of 803 companies in 45 different economies. Research shows that those with strong analytical skills are able to work more independently and they’re better problem-solvers and decision-makers. Hence, this skill is in demand. And unsurprisingly, at my company, analytical skills are also among the most highly valued.
The way we train analytical skills on the team is by making it a rule of thumb that the majority of decisions have to be data-based. This approach has created a company-wide habit of looking for data—either within the company or external resources—and being able to quickly draw conclusions.
If you ask me, creating an environment where people are encouraged and even required to use a specific skill on a daily basis is the best way to upskill the workforce. There’s a reason we have the saying, “practice makes perfect.”
2. Leadership Skills
Leadership skills include many things, from independent decision-making to the ability to take responsibility for one’s decisions, communicate ideas effectively and manage other people. Leadership skills are crucial for everyone, even if the only person you’re managing is yourself.
We pay special attention to strengthening the leadership skills of those recently promoted to management roles. Promotion doesn’t automatically provide the person with the necessary skills to manage other people. Without targeted training and mentorship, there’s a risk of creating a layer of ineffective managers.
One way leadership skills are instilled in our team is with a dedicated mentorship program, where more experienced team members run one-on-one workshops with their new colleagues. We also regularly organize in-house “conferences,” where people share their know-how with their colleagues. This not only gives them a chance to pass on their knowledge but also practice their public speaking skills. And yet another way we upskill our workforce is by letting people act like leaders—for example, by taking the initiative or having the final call mandate in decisions related to their fields.
3. Time Management Skills
At a time when we have all the tools and solutions possible to build and run a successful company, the only thing we lack is time. And what suffers from this lack of time is either your business or your employees’ well-being.
Proper time management skills are crucial for your staff to get everything done whilst avoiding feeling overwhelmed and burning out. Nevertheless, data shows that 48% of employees and 53% of managers are burned out at work, indicating that this skill might be underrated. Yes, the talent shortage is a serious problem right now. But at the bottom of it, there are often employees’ struggles with proper time management and an inability to draw the line between work and life.
So, how do you teach someone time management skills? The very first step is helping them understand where exactly their time is spent. At DeskTime, we use our own time-tracking tool, but simply jotting down the tasks you’ve worked on during the day could also do. In my experience, a time audit is the first step to clearing up one’s schedule and regaining several hours a week.
The next step is to practice prioritization. Our team uses the SCRUM methodology, where projects are tackled in sprints. This makes it easy even for new colleagues to train prioritization skills—if the task doesn’t directly contribute to the project in focus, it’s either scheduled for later or canceled for good.
In closing, workforce upskilling benefits the business and its employees. An impressive 93% of CEOs who introduced advanced workforce upskilling programs reported increased productivity, as well as an improvement in talent acquisition and retention and a more resilient workforce. And employees expect such programs from their employers, too—77% of workers say that they’re interested in learning new skills or completely retraining.
As a manager, it is important that you encourage your team members to come to you with initiatives to learn new skills. On our team, if an employee takes the initiative to attend a course, conference or simply buy a book they want to read, there’s a special budget just for that. This motivates people to look for opportunities to develop themselves, and everyone wins—the value of employees increases, along with their contribution to the company and job satisfaction.
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