Machines do many things well, but they lack social skills (Tweet it!). And research shows that occupations that require strong social skills have grown much more than others since 1980 (http://nyti.ms/2pjFHmj).
James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has concluded that non-cognitive skills like character, dependability and perseverance are as important as cognitive achievement. These conclusions have been put into practice. Google researchers, for example, studied the company’s employees to determine what made the best manager. It turned out that technical expertise did not predict elite managers; predictors were actually people who made time for one-on-one meetings, helped employees work through problems, and took an interest in the lives of others.
Mr. Deming’s study quantifies these types of skills. Using data about the tasks and abilities that occupations require from a Department of Labor survey called O*NET, he measured the economic return of social skills, after controlling for factors like cognitive skill, years of education and occupation. Jobs requiring social skills grew 24 percent between 1980 and 2012, while jobs requiring repetitive tasks, and analytical tasks that don’t necessarily involve teamwork declined.
Deming explains social skills in terms of the economic concept of comparative advantage. “Say two workers are publishing a research paper. If one excels at data analysis and the other at writing, they would be more productive and create a better product if they collaborated. But if they lack interpersonal skills, the cost of working together might be too high to make the partnership productive.”
Can you share an example of a time when social skills helped you or a colleague achieve success on the job? To join the conversation, click "comments" below.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.
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