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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How to Stay a Step Ahead of the Robots

Successful businesses, no matter how large, are based on people. People, not systems make
the long-term difference.
That’s why people skills will always be in demand.
Here are some skills you can develop that robots and software will likely take a while to learn:
1. Develop a high degree of empathy.
Forget your job description for a moment and focus on what your manager or leader needs.
What does she hope to accomplish? What are her goals? What are the leadership challenges she faces? What can you do to make her more successful?
Or focus on an internal or external customer. What does that person hope or need to accomplish? What are her goals? What are her targets? What can you do to make her more successful?
Or focus on a colleague. What are her career goals? What is she struggling with that impacts her performance? What can you do to make her job more fulfilling and rewarding?
Every day, spend a little time thinking about what someone else really needs and help them get it, even if the effort required falls outside your job description. Developing the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and help them achieve what they want to achieve (at HubSpot we call it “solving for the customer”) is an incredibly valuable skill.
2. Forget your job title and focus on adding value.
Most employees keep the trains running on time; a few generate a significant return on their employer’s investment. The greater the return you generate the less replaceable you become. See your job description as a list of basic responsibilities, then take the next step and determine how you can add value by cutting costs, or increasing revenues, or optimizing processes, or partnering with other functional areas...
(Think about it this way: I may know how to set up Quickbooks in twenty minutes, but I don't know every accounting and tax strategy that can save our company money. That'swhy we need accountants -- and why we gladly pay for their help.)
Most importantly, never think, “I’m not doing (that) unless I get paid for it.” Think, “I will do that, because in time I will get paid for it.”
Look past the basic employer/employee relationship and find ways to add value to what others receive. Indispensability doesn’t happen overnight; it’s earned, not given.
3. Develop your communication skills.
Robots can only repeat; they can’t imagine. The better you can communicate the better you can express your ideas and creativity – or help others express theirs.
That includes visual communication skills. Take a photography class. Take a graphics design class at a local college. Take a speech class. The better you can communicate, the better you can share what you come up with when you…
4. Focus on thinking and creativity.
Robots love performing rote tasks because they’re awesome at doing what they’re told.
Coming up with new ideas? That’s not generally a robot’s strong suit.
But it can be yours.
Every job involves some amount of routine – reports that must be generated, forms that must be completed, processes that must be performed, etc. Spend a few days streamlining those processes: eliminate what you can and optimize the rest. Free yourself up to think and create and innovate.
New ideas are one thing that will never be a commodity.
5. Truly be the best.
Go ahead and begrudge the success of others, but remember: no one reaches the top through luck alone. Successful people work incredibly hard.
Focus on gaining and providing the kinds of skills employers and customers need – and will pay a premium to have. The more you excel, the more you earn.
It may take time, but true excellence always pays off.
And besides keeping the robots at bay… is personally fulfilling in its own right.