Are you committed to learning and development in your organization? Then you have undoubtedly come across the term ‘power skills’. It is the new collective name for what we used to often call ‘soft skills’. But there is more to it than a simple name change! In this article, we explain exactly what power skills are and why they are so incredibly important for the employee of the future.
Hard skills versus soft skills. It seemed like such a useful distinction. But this actually makes it seem like one skill is better or more valuable than the other. Soft skills were often considered secondary and less critical skills. In reality, of course, these skills have always been very important. But partly because of the pandemic, we are only now realizing the full effect.
Why the term ‘soft skills’ gives way to ‘power skills’
The world of work is changing at an accelerated pace. Remote work, new technologies and constantly changing job descriptions mean that you always have to be able to do something different to be successful in your work. And it’s not just about new hard skills.
The skills that you especially need now are ‘soft skills’. However, due to the urgency of these skills, this term no longer covers the strain. Furthermore, there are also skills that you may have previously termed as ‘hard skill’, which are now better termed as ‘power skill’.
- Power skills are an important asset in today’s workplace;
- If you want successful leaders and managers, you must teach them power skills;
- Power skills include skills such as emotional intelligence, integrity, empathy, communication and more;
- If you want your employees to have power skills, you will need to offer them the right training.
- Preferably encourage employees to develop 1 or 2 skills at a time;
- Get results even faster? Then make it clear that power skills are also an asset for promotions.
The two main reasons to give more attention to power skills
1. Working remotely requires different skills
When you work remotely, communication and social skills become even more important than they already were. But it also makes digital skills indispensable. In addition, the world around us has become more complex. In addition to communicative, digitally savvy employees, this requires emotionally intelligent leaders who understand when their team members are starting to hit a wall. The manager of today must have excellent communication skills in order to correctly guide and support employees, near and far.
2. More demand for real ‘people work’
The human part of the work is also becoming increasingly important now that many tasks are being taken over by computers and robots. Or as an article in Forbes pointed out last year: “As work becomes increasingly automated, soft skills, which cannot yet be copied by machines, have become more important.” Therefore, ‘soft skills’ are better called ‘power skills’; they are truly an asset in today’s workplace.
The difference between soft skills and power skills
In essence, the term ‘power skills’ is a rebranding of ‘soft skills’. But the change brought about by the new name is important. Because while skills related to leadership, teamwork, communication, productivity and well-being have always been important, this importance has now increased dramatically.
Keeping up with constant changes, both in the industry and in the workplace, is a serious challenge. And the newly required adaptability has a significant impact on employees and their ability to excel. Everyone is now expected to be able to work (and perform!) in a state of constant change. That’s why it’s so important to dub the skills you need for this as power skills.
Power skills enable employees to meet the following three criteria:
- Adding value beyond what can be done through automation and smart technology;
- Work in a digital environment;
- Continuously being able to adapt to new ways of working and new professions.
What are examples of power skills in the workplace?
Power skills, or ‘skills of the future’, can be traced back to a broad set of skills that are all cognitive, emotional, social and human in nature and cannot be replaced by technology. At Studytube, we have divided these skills into four themes:
Research from McKinsey, combined with Studytube’s market and customer surveys, led us to define twelve power competencies that employees need to be future-proof. Examples include: critical thinking, communication, effective collaboration, vitality and digital skills.
Studytube puts together a diverse learning offer per theme and power skill in its online training library, consisting of different learning modes. Laura Starreveld, Head of Learning Content at Studytube:
“We believe in continuously developing the potential of every employee, now and in the future, and we are convinced that employees will develop more and more skills online. That’s why we offer our own online learning offer that responds to what employees need to be able to do in the future. Power skills will play a central role for us in the coming year and beyond.”
How do you ensure that your employees have power skills?
If you want your employees to have power skills, offer the right training and encourage employees to develop 1 or 2 skills at a time. In this way, they can get started in a targeted manner and achieve results faster. Also make it clear that power skills are an asset for promotions. This provides extra motivation to develop the skills.
Developing a power skill is never finished because you can learn to master each of these skills better and better. So make sure that the employees gain insight into their own level and do not see training or courses in the area as a one-off effort, but as something they have to work on continuously. So make it easy and fun.
Do you want to know more?
In 2023, we will be paying attention to one of the twelve power skills defined by us and McKinsey each month on this blog. You will discover exactly why each of these skills are so important to the employee of the future. And you’ll also learn what you can do to help your employees develop power skills. So stay tuned!