The fundamental toolkit required to drive change in the fourth industrial revolution.

Hint: it starts with upskilling today’s leaders for tomorrow’s workplace

The World Economic Forum forecasts that the skills people will require for the fourth industrial revolution; a workplace which will feature AI, robotics and machine-learning, will include complex problem-solving, critical- thinking and creativity.

You might think those skills are available in abundance; however that is simply not the case.

As a seasoned consultant working predominantly with executive leaders to identify, define, drive and embed change within their organisations; the human skills required for the future are sadly lacking.

While a significant spend is allocated on readiness for the future; I believe the spend is inadequate when it comes to understanding and developing the uniquely human skills required to thrive during change.

Recently, I was supporting a client define and implement a major organisational change; while transformational in nature, it had little impact on actual ‘job security’ however certainly triggered change to ‘how we deliver our work’.

We partnered directly with the executive leaders to deliver the change program and were hamstrung in progressing the program, due to an alarming lack of skills and behaviours aligned with the future of work at the leadership level.

We were stifled due to the leadership teams’ inability to think differently, explore alternative service models and the demonstration of change resistant behaviours. It made me think, if we are designing jobs and work practices for the future then surely those leading the change must be able to demonstrate and champion those skills.

This is where the recruitment and staffing sector has a major role to play.

The skill shortage in Australia and New Zealand is already problematic and will increasingly restrict our ability to compete globally.

In my opinion, the recruitment and staffing industry intricately understands the challenges of sourcing the skills needed for our country to thrive in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world and therefore are superbly placed to influence industry and tertiary sectors regarding skill definition and development.

Organisations are struggling to grow talent from within (largely due to the pace and complexity of change) and therefore must access the talent via traditional staffing models.

And this in itself presents both an opportunity and an obligation on the industry to inform organisational leaders that they must prioritise and strategise for the skills of the future.

The recruitment and staffing industry can provide unique insights and learnings to encourage organisational leaders to plan for their workplace of the future; the skills they require, how they will access those skills, how they will employ/engage these skills, how they will reward and recognise these skills and how they will themselves be the champion of these skills.

Too often, at Change2020 we are working with leaders who are ill-equipped to respond to these questions; they are focused on ‘doing and delivering’ rather than ‘thinking and planning’ (again, often due to lack of clarity and certainty making planning challenging and difficult).

These same leaders however, more often than not will make decisions based on evidence and data; evidence and data which the recruitment industry have extensive access to; how is this evidence and data being used to inform and influence our organisational leaders to make decisions regarding our readiness for the future of work?

Recruiters who are genuinely partnering with organisational leaders in terms of skill shortage insights, necessity to prepare for the workplace of the future and an insistence that leaders are demonstrating their own uniquely human skills, such as empathy, curiosity,

courage and thinking differently are the recruiters who are making a difference to New Zealand and Australia’s ability to grow and thrive during the fourth industrial revolution.

As change consultants, we encourage the recruitment and staffing industry to step into the workplace of the future advisory role; partner with leaders to provide insights into the skills they must be developing and appointing to futureproof their organisations for the fourth industrial revolution.

That’s when you will be true agents of change.

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