Recently while working with a corporate client on a career development project, an employee shared his hope that a level of stability would return to the world of work in the UAE. Immediately I had a flashback to the many times I heard a similar comment in the late 1980's when doing career transition consulting in the USA.
My message then and now is still the same: long-term stability and security in the world of work is gone. The social contract my father knew that promised a job for life with a "good company" as long as you did all the "right things" is torn and shredded. Such guarantees are likely to never be seen again.
So, what CAN you do to ensure that you not only survive but actually thrive in the 21st century world of work? The answer lies in what I like to call your "EmQ" – or Employability Quotient.
Your Employability Quotient is composed three elements: your general skills, your subject matter depth or expertise, and your corporate skills.
My definition of general skills is the "soft" skills that underpin or form a foundation for your success at work. These include, self-management skills – your ability to use time and resources efficiently and effectively; communication skills – your ability to present your ideas and projects in clear, understandable and convincing ways; and thinking skills – your ability to engage in shrewd environmental scanning, gathering and critically analyzing information for decision – making and problem solving. In essence: can you manage yourself, can you think clearly, and can you communicate persuasively?
Subject Matter Expertise
Do others recognize you as having depth in a specific discipline? Are you a whiz at creating Excel budgets, or engaging Power Point presentations? Do you exhibit considerable knowledge of accounting, supply chain management, project management, computer network administration or delivering exceptional training and coaching ability? Can you negotiate a tricky deal or close a big ticket sale?
You can not feign true expertise; it is not just about your certifications, qualifications, or your degree. Rather, it's about the ability to apply your knowledge in creating solutions to the business challenges. Can you demonstrate, in specific behavioral terms, how you will add value to your employer? What have you accomplished in previous roles that can predict your ability to impact future situations in a positive direction? If the employer can not see a benefit in hiring or retaining you, then you best get busy upgrading your skills, or you may find yourself with a "pink slip" as opposed to a pay check.
Can you play well with others; fit into the organizational culture and use diplomacy and tact accordingly? Do you know when to take a firm stand on an issue and exhibit resolve and conviction, and when to keep your mouth shut and live to fight another day? Understanding the politic of an organization and how to use power and influence to your advantage are critical skills.
I often hear workers lament the skill of "playing politics" because they somehow feel it's distasteful or that it should be unnecessary. Make no mistake – without solid corporate skills, your general skills and technical expertise are like a stool missing its third leg – it can never support you, and will always put you at risk for falling over. Technical expertise is not enough; corporate skills are what give you the needed balance to survive.
So, take a good look at your "EmQ". Is it high enough to make you valuable to your employer of choice? If not, develop your self – management ability; enhance or upgrade your subject matter depth; hone your teamwork skills; and ratchet up your ability navigate the organization. Only then are you fully equipped to function effectively in today's competitive workplace.