The future is here: Our top 5 skills
By Ross Pickford (Head of People – Global Kinetic)
The pace of digitalisation has quickened during the course of the pandemic, and this level of change will undoubtedly boost competition and attract innovation. We expect the entry of new digital players to challenge the current status quo. It is an exciting time, especially so for software developers. There is so much potential to invent new ways of working, transform processes and make your mark by dramatically improving the customer experience.
The sky is the limit, except for one limitation – the lack of skilled and experienced people.
It’s not just South Africa struggling with a skills deficit, there is a shortage of skilled developers worldwide, but it is a particularly acute issue for our country given the many years of underinvestment in education.
At Global Kinetic, we understand the environment we work in and the need to impact communities positively through our search for talent. It’s why we partner with a local non-profit, youth-at-risk organisation, Life Choices, for our internship programme.
So far, our programme has enjoyed a 100% success rate, and it has taught us so much. This experience, along with our recruitment experience, provides us with valuable insights into the skills and characteristics required to create successful teams.
A team with the ability to build highly scalable enterprise-grade software systems requires a unique combination of skills and aptitude. Our customers depend on us to solve complex issues in the most efficient manner possible, and it is this ability that has created our reputation for excellence. Through our years of experience and consistent reflection and improvement, we have identified the five key attributes that align with our business values, mission and purpose. These are skills we believe to be vital not just for today’s work environment but for the future of work.
- Ability to understand and reduce complexity
Our managed enterprise services help organisations meet objectives that are often incredibly complex; therefore, the ability to understand and distill this complexity into simple terms through clear communication, using visual and collaborative tools, is crucial. It allows us to bridge cultural and even language barriers.
In an age where remote working is commonplace, we have to be mindful of communication styles that may not translate through electronic means as well as they might in person. We need team members with a high degree of emotional intelligence who are aware of the pitfalls of communication and are cautious about making assumptions. Reducing complexity in the business case is vital and reducing interpersonal complexity is equally as important, if not more so if we are to build exceptional teams that work to the common goal. Communicate progress and risks; reduce complexity.
- Team first
Team player is an over-used phrase, but working in teams and remotely from each other is set to become increasingly common across so many sectors. Our ethos is simple – we care for and support each other. It is our primary core value, one that we eat and breathe daily and we ensure that our teams practice it. We work together to deliver on agreed-upon goals; there is no space for heroes and cowboys. Each team member is highly skilled and brings their unique perspective to the project. A successful team member can look at the task at hand and set team and personal goals, communicate their status at any given moment, take accountability should a problem arise and ask for help if needed, and importantly, self-regulate to be able to deliver on their goals and the expectations of the team.
It has been a very challenging work environment throughout the pandemic, but even before the crisis, we learned the value of respect for each other in the workplace. Everyone, even the most positive and energetic of people, can have a bad day. Respect and care are requirements when creating a quality team, and it has been indispensable during a major health crisis.
A passion to achieve and a desire to learn are essential. It’s this passion that sets people apart from others and delivers results. Our work is focused on problem-solving, improving the situation for others, making other people’s work environment more manageable, and contributing to their success. In our experience, candidates who have a hunger to do better and a desire to contribute regardless of their current skillset are usually the team members who tend to work consistently on a problem until it’s solved. Their love for what they do, their craft, and their innate need to find ways to do things better each time is what is needed to produce a top-quality outcome. Their drive to achieve means that they will find their way around most obstacles and, in the process, push the rest of the team to this same level of craftsmanship.
Diversity in a team has become incredibly important due to the complexity of the environment; we’ve found that the higher levels of diversity within a team environment boost creativity and innovation by challenging groupthink and significantly improve output quality. Recruiting for the IT sector in South Africa, we’ve found that achieving gender diversity is not as easy as attaining racial or language diversity, and we actively search for female candidates for our developer roles. While we have been successful in achieving targets in this area, it is a lifelong strategy. We can always be more inclusive, find new ways to upskill and bring people of skill into our business, and by extension, the industry as a whole. The more diverse our makeup, the more diversity we can offer our clients and products in ideation, creativity, and perspective.
- Ability to embrace change
The ability to embrace change in a fast-paced, rapidly evolving environment promotes longevity and stability when so many are feeling uncertain and anxious. High levels of uncertainty can make decision-making incredibly challenging, but the projects we undertake require constant movement and progress. Remaining calm and stoic in chaos can help quell any upheaval and push the project along quickly. To embrace change requires a good support network, a positive approach, flexibility and confidence.
A bonus skill
A candidate who possesses all five skills will be top of our list, but there is one more skill that excites us when we recognise it: the ability to know what you don’t know. This is the person with that quiet confidence and humility, who understands what is needed to create excellence, who knows their limitation, takes accountability for any deficit, and who will make a plan to resolve any weakness. It is the openness to learning whatever skill is required to ensure the success of the project and a willingness to mentor other team members to help achieve project success that is often the difference between a great project outcome and an excellent project outcome. Their lack of ego and contribution to the team effort often has the ability to lift a project to the next level, and those are the results we want.