Skills and Attitude at Work
I’ve just read an article headlined “Attitude is worth more than skills”. Whilst the catchy headline is patently rubbish – I’ve rather my surgeon was skilled than keen – there is clearly more to successful recruitment than buying a skillset.
Thankfully the article, plugging a new book and assessment tool, did identify that skills were still important and that attitude, or “mindset” as they call it, is a key additional factor.
Of course, there can be no doubt that skills and knowledge are important particularly in a technically biased sector, but the mindset is crucial for success and future prospects and here is why.
The value and limitations of skills
Skills are clearly an important measure of someone’s ability in a particular area, however as technology and knowledge evolve today’s skills become out-dated; so any skillset has a shelf life. Further in most roles skills become commoditised. You only have to look at the demand and premium for people with new skills, e.g. when Six Sigma became popular “Black Belts commanded a real premium”. Whilst they may still be in demand the premium is nowhere near what it was.
Clearly in sectors where technology or techniques are evolving fastest those who don’t keep up to date will find themselves left behind.
What is a winning mindset?
Inevitably well-known concepts are often dressed up in new jargon so let’s go back to basics. I’ve already made clear that it is vital to maintain currency if not leadership in your skills and knowledge; so there is a start.
In our experience the people who are doing this are the driven, self-starters who aren’t waiting for someone else to hand it to them on a plate; they have determination and resilience – so get off your backside the rest of you.
Much of the other aspects of attitude or mindset fall into what has long been described as soft skills. Factors include being open to new ideas and criticism, thinking of wider implications before making decisions, considering other’s views and the ability to communicate effectively with others at all levels, inspiring respect and respecting others.
Unfortunately, most hiring managers aren’t very good at interviewing for these factors, tending to rely on whether the like the person, feel they have a bit of verve and are someone they could work with.
I’m not saying everyone should use psychometric testing to quantify these aspects but certainly, some thought should be given to them and a more structured approach to probing them at interview would clearly be beneficial.