In the popular television sitcom Friends, there is an episode in Season 10, where Chandler, the character played by Matthew Perry, speaks to Emma, Rachel and Ross’s daughter, and asks her to imagine getting up in 2020 – the future!

For some years now, thanks to its lyrical completeness, 2020 has had cool creds as the age of the future. None of us really thought we would get here though, did we? And, while things around us don’t seem so different at first glance – sharp shifts and deep churns are afoot everywhere– our worlds of work, and the range of skills and experiences that shape our professions, are certainly swirling in change.

At Harappa Education, we’re excited and fortunate to be in the middle of this change, and to see how companies are prioritizing the most important skills, and how complex attributes such as leadership, productivity and interpersonal dynamics are getting re-interpreted and practiced. Careers and workplaces of the future are demanding a different toolkit, and our conversations with potential partners and learners constantly reflect this. Here are some key skills gaps that are top-of-mind for companies when it comes to training. Caveat: our insights come from knowledge or services companies located in the main business hubs of India.

1. The ability to think:

Critical thinking – the most foundational of human skills – is making its need felt. Talent managers, business unit heads and senior management are keen to have their teams understand the ‘right’ problems to solve and address the ‘right’ issues. This has become a question of strategy, judgment and discretion.

2. The ability to communicate: 

Poor written and verbal skills emerge constantly as another key area of improvement. Professionals highlight that a lack of these skills leads to a loss of confidence from seniors and external stakeholders. This is especially true for groups such as sales managers – a functional cohort many companies focus on for training.

3. The ability to prioritize and manage time: 

Senior people managers are frustrated with the inability of their teams to self-govern and self-regulate their work. A common grouse is that many professionals are generally not great at meeting deadlines and prioritizing.

4. The ability to learn and be agile:

Over the last two years, the understanding that disruption lurks everywhere – technologies, consumer preferences, regulatory overhaul– has made it evident that both knowing how to learn efficiently, as well as adapting to unanticipated situations is the secret sauce of persevering in the future workplace. Dynamic senior management, especially those that are entrepreneurial, rail against the mental roadblocks, status-quoism and disinterest towards new systems, that teams often demonstrate.

5. The ability to work well with people: 

General people skills are in high demand. The wear and tear of corporate life, and testy interpersonal dynamics by way of bad bosses, uninspiring managers and unreliable colleagues is responsible for much of the heartburn of cubicle-life. Navigating through these, without losing productivity, and ensuring collaboration is a definite area of focus. The programs we’re most asked to create are around managerial effectiveness for first-time managers, and managerial excellence for middle-management.

Explore topics such as the Elements of CommunicationNonverbal Communication, Effective Communication, and the 7 C’s of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section to build your skills for workplace success.

Shreyasi Singh is the Founder & CEO of Harappa Education. She is committed to building and shaping initiatives that address India’s massive education challenges, at scale.

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