Just imagine, you carry a suitcase with you everywhere you go. As you get older the suitcase gets heavier and heavier. Perhaps the outside of the suitcase has stickers that represent the places you have visited and the experiences you have had through your lifetime. The colorful collage may include recollections from Venice, NYC, Disneyland, Yosemite, or your family reunion.

But this suitcase is different!

Instead of memories of the places you have visited, this suitcase has the word SKILLS written on it. The contents of the suitcase reflect the learnings and knowledge you have gained over the years. When you open the suitcase, a lifetime of memories and skills learned are in front of you, waiting to be unpacked. You may see the moment your child was born or the award you won in high school. You may remember the employee you mentored who become a leader, your favorite cross-country trip, an adventure, a fear you overcame, and on and on. I know, you are thinking, “Just a suitcase? I need a steamer trunk or an empty railroad box car!” The weight and size of the suitcase indicates your rich history of learning and accomplishment. ‘

How did you identify and learn the skills inside your suitcase?

Perhaps you were given a project that was new and unfamiliar. To accomplish your goals, you took a course, read a book, met with a mentor, or worked on a collaborative team. All of these are methods that introduce new skills. Once learned, practiced, and mastered, they become a permanent addition in your suitcase.

As the world and business changes, you may have to “give away” some of the outdated contents of the suitcase to make room for new and upgraded skills.

  • What does not serve you any longer?
  • What do you need to learn or acquire that is new and current?

When younger employees start working, their skill suitcase will have space for future additions. The employee acquired skills in school, but the ones they need at work and in your organization may be different. Rather than assuming practical knowledge, the leader must validate skill based on achievement of goals and outcomes.

Does the new employee possess relationship management, customer service, problem solving, communication, teamwork, or business process skills? If not, the company must provide training to ensure success. If the employee possesses the necessary skills, the leader must determine if execution is at the level required to achieve goals. In either scenario, leadership, and ongoing coaching of the employee are required to foster consistent performance and engagement.

In a recent study, a group of 1500 talent acquisition professionals from 28 countries identified trends generated by 760MM members on LinkedIn. They identified 50% of respondents expect recruiting budgets to decrease in 2021, and 66% expect learning and development budgets to increase.

In addition, 94% of employees surveyed by LinkedIn for its annual Workplace Learning Report said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development. Losing employee due to minimal learning and development is one of the worst kinds of turnover. Why? Employees who want to fill their skill suitcase are typically curious, creative, and problem solvers…they make the best types of employees. If they do not have opportunities to learn they will go elsewhere to stimulate and enhance their development. Ask your employees what type of training they desire and identify ways to offer this education through technology and coaching.

Skills are the new currency in the workplace. Below are topics that reflect what the workforce needs now!

Communication and collaboration – A recent TalentLMS survey revealed that communication and collaboration are the most important soft skills employees are lacking. To work successfully as a team, employees need to know how to listen and communicate with clarity and empathy.

Adaptability- The year 2020, was filled with change.  Flexible thinking helped people become more adaptable. This skill can be taught with significant outcomes such as personal resilience and productivity.

Emotional Intelligence- Managing emotion is critical in leadership and customer facing positions. Emotional intelligence teaches employees to proactively assess problems, consider alternatives, and present options. This skill enhanced productivity and profitability.  

Leadership- Every employee may not become a leader in your company, but they can all benefit from training focused on leadership traits. These skills enhance confidence and encourage employees to speak out and share their ideas.

What skill based, leadership, or next job training are you providing to educate, engage, and retain employees in the workplace? How are you enhancing their “skill suitcase? In the future, your employees will “open their suitcase” and reflect on the skills and experiences you provided, and the impact you made in their life!

It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skills.    Wilbur Wright