New technologies, new industries and new opportunities are opening up every day in the professional sphere. And one needs to keep running, even to stay in the same place. The world keeps changing day by day and it is necessary that we change with it. With cutthroat competition, professionals must be fast adapters to remain assets to their organizations.
A lot of times employees, especially those who are a little older in the workplace, get scared thinking of how they may become obsolete and another may take their place. The good part is identifying this threat and recognizing it as a genuine one. The next step is to work towards not letting that happen. The basic rule is to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn, the underlying principle of updating and upgrading oneself.
Reskilling, a survival tactic
Reskilling is not an option now but a survival tactic. If you understand where obsolescence can come from, you can be better prepared for change. Avoid being myopic and thinking that competition can only come from one direction. There is many an example of companies that did not anticipate competition ten years back and are now struggling to remain in business. When it comes to jobs, there will always be more demand than supply and one must know how to become an important resource when there is a paucity of jobs.
What can one do to remain relevant and not become obsolete? A lot, actually. The greatest strength of an employee is her existing skills. Each employee has a unique set of competencies that enables her to perform at the workplace. Employees should become more adept and quicker at their job. Doing what you know in a better way shows that you have not been complacent and have sharpened your existing skill set. Ideally, this should happen as one grows in one’s job and gains years of experience. You must also work on expanding your skill set, starting with skills closely related to your existing strengths. For example, if you are experienced in traditional advertising, you can pick up digital marketing and SEM to learn next. This way, your competencies have expanded both vertically and horizontally.
Explore external learning opportunities
Companies themselves provide ample opportunities and courses for their workforce to upgrade themselves. However, employees must not depend on the company alone. Many credible courses are available online that enable self-learning and certify the learner. It helps to have certifications from within and outside the organization. When one is looking at greener pastures, picking up new skills over time tells the prospective employer a lot about the candidate, in terms of attitude, flexibility, interests, and knowledge.
Older employees also need to be flexible and constantly learn. Most importantly, one must take to technology though it may initially seem intimidating. A World Bank report last year estimated that around 69% of jobs in India are threatened by automation, making it all the more important to master technology or at least be adept at it. Today, the line between personal and office time is a little blurred but boundaries are definitely respected. Hence, one must also be ‘available’ when needed, whether it is on phone, e-mail or through collaboration tools like video conferencing. Thirdly, be open to learning from younger colleagues. There is a lot to learn from young professionals, be it in technology, new apps on the phone, conversation techniques or even handling a difficult boss.
Top management to create the future workforce
It is the responsibility of the top management to create the future workforce, particularly of the chief executive. It is in the organization’s interest to replace non-performers with fresh talent or move employees up the ladder when they display new skills, improve their productivity, manage work better etc. In tough times, there are pressures on the organization to cut costs and the need to trim edges. It is at this juncture that one faces the litmus test and must show how one has upskilled. If one has sharpened one’s competencies and become a more skilled, knowledgeable employee than before, it gives the company enough reasons to retain rather than fire the employee. As times change, there will be new problems and challenges that one must face. Enhancing your personal and work-related proficiencies will give you the confidence and attitude to face and overcome such challenges, helping you remain an important and ideally indispensable asset to the organization.