How significant are non-technical skills when companies need to be on the warpath?
Today’s climate in the world of work is very different from what it was just a year ago. Businesses, most of them, have taken a beating and are being forced to reexamine and redesign everything from sales strategies to hiring policies, structures and more. In the midst of all this, when there is a frenzied revision of the ways of working and doing business, many might wonder if creativity and soft skills are still relevant and important. As a general rule, we tend to view creativity as something that might be nice to try, if you have the extra time. A kind of luxury, actually; something every coach loves to talk about at the beginning of the month; something that every sales manager asks to forget when the end of the month approaches.
However, there has never been a time when creativity and soft skills have been such a pressing need that can prepare you to respond effectively to the New Normal and the post-pandemic world. Every young management graduate, entering the world of work between now and the foreseeable future; every young manager looking for the next rung on the corporate ladder; every job jumper looking for the next step; they will all have one thing in common. There will be some entirely new and often unforeseen and unprecedented challenges, difficult decisions, and possibly difficult-to-negotiate prospects. While dealing with the immediate changes brought about by lockdowns around the world, each professional must also prepare to function and excel in a post-lockdown, post-pandemic world, where economists predict sweeping change and tough financial times.
Since a return to a normal pre-pandemic world is unlikely at best, we must get used to thinking differently in order to face a different situation. Creativity and soft skills, more than ever before, will set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Those who are able to devise sensible and practical strategies will be able to maximize their potential and get ahead. And that vital boost to your ability can only come from thinking creatively. We need to recognize that there has been a massive disruption to our way of life; and treat it as an opportunity to shine. The world is a different place today, and you need to think differently to meet new challenges.
The pandemic, the lockdowns, the needs for social distancing, have transformed business today in ways we could never have imagined or predicted. Business is transacted and services are delivered in virtual offices and online modes made possible by web technology. And for many companies, like large parts of the IT industry, this model works so well that companies are realizing that moving back to a physical office may not be in their best interest. Going back to the old office model is likely to be extremely challenging in the new circumstances. Until this situation is truly over, businesses will have to manage social distancing, bring work space appropriately, manage food safety, pay special attention to restroom maintenance, and deal with judicious and safe use of social space. The pre-pandemic trend was towards more and more open designs, the idea being to bring people together and remove mental walls. However, these configurations are no longer suitable for offices. Redesign costs and the simple costs of running physical offices at 50% capacity will be more than many companies can or are willing to handle.
Marketing and sales have also changed dramatically. To succeed in this atmosphere, we have to innovate, create new ways to meet customers, make sales, and develop relationships. The interpersonal skills required for a video meeting, online training session, or closing a deal online are very different from what we have used in face-to-face settings so far. There is an upside to changes despite lockdowns and work-from-home regimes. These days it seems like everyone has more mental bandwidth. With the absence of the grueling daily commute, white noise of the office space, distractions, calls, and people coming and going, most of us now have a better mental space to work on our intuitions, brainstorm new ideas, and follow up on inspirations. This is the best time for everyone to exercise their creativity and get used to new ways of thinking and new ways of doing. Innovate and idea in this transformed workplace, get creative and try new ideas! This is the time to reinvent yourself!