What To Look For In Tomorrow's Employee
In today's competitive business climate an employer must view every job applicant with an eye to the future. Every new vacancy provides management with the opportunity to hire someone who can not only do today's assignment but will continue to contribute as the company responds to change.
Specifically, there are 10 key attributes or skills with future application that successful employees are bringing to job interviews.
Hiring with the future in mind requires both managers and applicants to focus on a set of attributes and skills that are applicable regardless of the job.
- The ability to use information. People whose work history shows they can rapidly acquire the critical content information required to do different jobs are in demand. They can keep up with the pace of business, distinguishing all relevant and necessary factors. Equally important, those proficient in the quick study also have the ability to rapidly cast off outdated information.
- An emphasis on interpersonal skills: Current and future business demands are placing a greater emphasis on the ability to work well with others, to collaborate, to listen, and to express ideas and concerns effectively within the work setting. More people are making presentations to all levels of the organization and the marketplace. Presentation opportunities can be the difference between effectively managing your business and career or being the passive recipient of direction from others.
- Marketing skills. This skill goes beyond the conventional definition of marketing. It includes experience in marketing ideas (within the unit or corporate level of his or her organization, such as being able to. identify, research and manage which ideas are worth marketing to a particular segment of the company. Compatibility of style and purpose is important in the effectiveness of any group. If the prospective applicant is a loner being asked to function in a highly participatory environment, the conflicts can be easily predicted. On the other hand, a role requiring the individual to lead a recalcitrant group will not be successfully accomplished by someone who strives to be accepted through popularity. But if the applicant's team expectations are similar to the company's and if the characteristics required to maintain those expectations are within an applicant, a positive fit will occur.
- Knowing when to act and when to respond to direction. What experience has an applicant had in independent thinking and discretion? To be able to ascertain when to act implies knowledge of how different roles in the work team and how the whole organization interrelates. Individuals who exhibit this attribute tend to ask many 'why' questions -They are interested in -expanding their understanding of the business beyond the boundaries of their specific job. But they also know how to keep things in perspective. They appreciate the difference between knowing about something and being authorized to act on that knowledge.
- Involvement. Management benefits from individuals who know how to participate with in the work environment. Such participation includes being able to express concerns in a timely and productive manner and being able to generally work well with others in a non-threatening fashion. Applicants should be able to reflect on past instances in which they have successfully participated with their work associates. The degree of sensitivity they exhibit in working with others is a measure of tact and patience. Internal marketers tend to be the proponents and leaders of change. They are able to connect strategic vision and action plans. It is an energy-generating skill of great influence.
- Change Experience. Change is a normal, healthy and expected condition of life. This type of orientation is beneficial in a prospective employee. Ideally, employers should be looking for those who have had a creative hand in initiating constructive change in the workplace. Short of that, it would be better to have an employee who has at least been the recipient of change than someone who has invested energies into maintaining the status quo.
- Time management. With the increase in service industries, and greater demands and leaner staffs, and with competition becoming more acute, it's important to identify potential employees who have been able to meet deadlines with quality results, while still maintaining responsive and flexible behaviours. The key skill in managing time in our current business setting is managing distractions. One has to be able to break concentration patterns, address an unplanned interference assess its priority and then return to the original issue. Implied in time management are judgment and an understanding of business fundamentals. This permits shuffling of existing priorities and the determination of what needs attention and what can wait.
- The ability to be a team player. The applicant's past experience and current perceptions of contributing as a part of a business team are critical. How aware is the applicant to the way business was accomplished in his or her previous assignments? The applicant's sensitivity to issues of participation, delegation, and trust may well predict the ability to effectively contribute within a business team.
- Personal accountability. Accepting personal responsibility for one's behaviour was taken for granted at one time. But because of its recent absence, it has become a dominant issue on the minds of employers. Whether it's the result of decreasing maturity or increasing anxiety in the labour market, more companies are finding it hard to staff with individuals who take responsibility for their behaviour. The absence of this type of ownership has a direct bearing on the staff's ability to grow and maximize opportunities for change. As people worry more about being criticized and or blamed for actions, and as people resort to safe postures or behaviour to remove themselves from visible positions of responsibility, our business vitality erodes. Those who accept the risk of taking equity for their actions form a solid core from which the business effort can move forward.
- Computer Literacy. The introduction of microcomputer technology in the workplace has created two main skill groups that must be recognized when selecting staff members for the future. The most common skill group resides with the processors and retrievers of information, those who are comfortable using micros. Such computer-based skills are fairly easy to determine. The second group of related skills addresses the presentation of computer data. There has always been a. struggle between the need for information and the availability of useful data. The advent of the personal computer has expanded this problem. With the ability to store more data, there is a greater tendency to bury usable management tools among the sheets or screens of infinite and infinitesimal matter. The skill and discipline of culling out what is worthwhile to capture, analyze, retain, and act on becomes increasingly important. There is a need for practitioners of information management who can analyze and interpret information, and educate the company decision makers on how to maximize the use of the machine.
To become marketable, employees need to seek out opportunities to develop and refine the aforementioned attributes and skills. Significant learning experiences typically occur on the job. Employees must examine assignments in terms of customer service, project management, analytical and leadership dimensions.
The payoff in hiring with an eye to the future for the company is reduced turnover costs, a sense of continuity in the work team and greater productivity. The employee benefits in the short term by positively experiencing the company direction and not feeling like a victim of its changes. The long-term benefit for each of us translates into new opportunities, challenges and rewards.
Excerpt of an article by Dan Kleinman, Vice President and Manager, Personnel Planning, Wells Fargo Bank, San Francisco, that appeared in the Personnel Journal. Costa Mesa, California: All rights reserved. Copyright October, 1987.