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Monday, February 16, 2015

Can we use technology to help graduates become better team-players? 02-17

Can we use technology to help graduates become better team-players?

Business leaders and HR professionals have been telling us for some time that the graduates they are hiring just don’t have the soft skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

They’re telling us that graduates today have excellent technical skills and educational attainment, but they are finding it increasingly difficult to settle quickly into the world of work. In a way it’s not surprising. We think it’s partly because this generation has grown up with social media, partly because education in many countries is very reliant on rote learning and because the pace of change in business is now so rapid that it requires more team work and collaboration than ever before.
We can’t do much about the latter. It’s a fact of life or work. And it’s not for us to re-structure university education around the world. And we don’t believe that social media, our always on, multi-screen world, is bad either. In fact we’ve seen, and our clients tell us, this generation of graduates is increasingly fast paced and action oriented because of the way that they interact on social media. But it’s definitely an important factor – if you aren’t talking to people face to face and instead interact electronically you simply aren’t picking up face to face skills.
Nor do we think this is just businesses grumbling. Research we’ve conducted recently in China, India and the USA has shown us that graduates themselves admit they are struggling. More than 50% of them said that they have considered leaving their job because they don’t fit in. 52% have struggled to build relationships at work. And a really worrying 42% say they struggle to deal effectively with stress.
Self-awareness and self-control – the all-important soft skills that can determine success or failure in the workplace – are the answer. The good news is that they can be learned… and learned quickly. But they are relatively difficult to teach and need a disproportionate amount of coaching and classroom time to make them stick. We also know anecdotally that a lot of managers find it really difficult to address awkward behavior in young people.
So we’ve launched a mobile app to help. If you’ve been following the logic here you’ll be asking why, if we think social media and games and our increasingly electronic life is a causal factor we’re proposing an app as a solution?
The app – called Journey and part of our Activate suite of business apps – takes workers on a journey of self-discovery. The user starts stranded on a desert island and must tackle a series of practical exercises and assignments designed to build five core competencies; self-awareness, self-control, empathy for others, teamwork and influencing skills. These development triggers take place over four to six months as users work their way back to civilization. Managers can monitor the progress of their employees and provide supplementary advice and support.
The beauty of Journey is that it engages users in the digital space, but encourages them to put into practice in the real world what they are learning, as they are learning it. It prompts continuous reflection along with the practice, making for a far more compelling and effective learning experience.
Mobile technology has changed the way we lead our lives, but we’ve really only scratched the surface of what it can do for personal development in the workplace. Mobile devices are the constant factor in our daily lives now. Using their power, and the power of games, is the ideal way to engage people. .

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