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At Work, Expertise Is Falling Out of Favor

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https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/07/future-of-work-expertise-navy/590647/

theatlantic.com

At Work, Expertise Is Falling Out of Favor
These days, it seems, just about all organizations are asking their employees to do more with less. Is that actually a good idea?

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The era of problem-solving generalists

The era of problem-solving generalists

From an era of specialized workers having expertise in one particular activity, the professional world has slowly moved towards problem-solving generalists. Workers are asked to don differe...

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The pursuit of mastery

Mastery, once a sought-after attribute, is falling out of favour, according to the 2016 World Economic Forum report, and is slowly clearing the field for employees who can:

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Expertise decline consequences

With the value of true expertise in serious decline, and the economy evolving towards a different set of requirements from employees, the impact on college education, career paths, worker safet...

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New sought personality traits

The personality traits of employees seen in many new organizations:

  1. Fluid Intelligence: The raw processing power that combines working memory with a dynamic kind of ...

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Grit

The most sought after skill in educational and professional circles, a person who can work in a single task with complete tenacity and focus, blocking any distractions. The skill is valued in stabl...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Don't follow your passion

The main flaw of  “finding your passion” presupposes that interests and passions are fixed, rather than fluid and evolving as we age and gain wisdom and experience. 

The problem with following your passion

  • It ignores the market. Unless you have a trust fund waiting for you, you’ll have to feed yourself and others. 
  • It will turn a passion into a job. 

Learn from Startups

  1. Identify real needs in the market that are currently not being well met. 
  2. Assess your strengths: Whatever is easy for you that most others have a harder time with, that’s a worthy option.
  3. Match up these two in a constantly iterative process: This process takes many years if not decades.

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Getting your team on board

The idea that we need everyone on board before taking action in the workplace prevents teams from shifting from 'discussion' to 'doing.'

'Doing' is often framed in terms of proving and...

Commit to Actions

Trying to get people "on board" means trying to get people to align their actions and behaviors, as well as change their mindset. Aiming to change their mindsets adds a burden that will delay progress.

It is better to simply commit actions. Don't try to convince dissenters and outliers that their thinking should change since the decision will still play out in the future. As long as they commit to the decision with their actions, it is enough.

Be transparent about your goals

Whether you are looking for general information about the next steps in your career or are curious about a specific concept you're not familiar with, let people know what kind of information you...

Express gratitude

... before and after seeking advice. Gratitude has been shown to promote honesty, productivity, and overall well-being in the workplace, and can be used as a tool to ease any interaction, including asking for advice.

If a co-worker agrees to meet for coffee and share a lot of advice with you, emphasize how much you appreciate their time.

Ask the right kinds of questions

  • Show your interest and keep the conversation flowing. 
  • Follow-up questions can make conversations less superficial.
  • People are more willing to reveal sensitive or personal information when the toughest questions are asked at the beginning of the conversation. 
  • Active listening will show your advice-giver that you are engaged and care about what is being discussed.

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A Zen Parable

There was a man riding on a horse. When a man walking on the road asks him where he is going, the rider replies, “Why are you asking me? You should ask the horse.”

The ho...

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions. -Salovey and Mayer (1990)

Emotional Mastery

It manifests itself in the kind of statements we make about ourselves, in relation to our emotional skills and success.

Qualities such as confidence, awareness and optimism, come under the umbrella of emotional intelligence. 

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Future career logic

Future career logic

The most important career logic of the past is becoming counterproductive. Many of us have been told the key to success was developing a specialization that allowed us to climb the professional lad...

The future belongs to generalists

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Breadth is gaining favor. To make it in today's world, it's essential to be agile and flexible.

It is not to say that deep expertise is useless. It is just that our world is changing so fast that those with more tools in their possession will better navigate the uncertainty.

Being a generalist

To be a generalist, zoom out and pay more attention to the context in which you're making decisions.

  • Think bigger and wider than you usually would. Read the whole paper, not just the part that pertains to your industry. Study the dynamics affecting your sector. If you are a finance professional, read a book on marketing.
  • Take the time to consider how seemingly unrelated developments are connected and may impact each other.

Because generalists have a broader set of tools to draw from, they can dynamically adjust their course.

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Deep Work

The activity of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. 

When you’re really locked into doing something hard with your mind… with zero distractions. 

Interruptions

The typical American worker is interrupted every 210 seconds

But half of those interruptions are self-interruptions. We check our phones every 12 minutes or 70 times per day

FOMO Comes From Unhappiness

You’re not feeling so great — whether you realize it or not — and you turn to social media to make you feel better. Only one problem there: it actually makes you feel worse…

The Facebook Illusion

We all know that Facebook doesn’t provide a very well-rounded picture of people’s lives. It’s more like the cherry-picked perfection version.

People with FOMO have ambivalent feelings toward Facebook. It brings them up when they post about their own carefully edited version of life awesomeness, and slams them back down when they feel they have to compete with other people's lifestyle awesomeness - especially when they're feeling a little down or anxious themselves.

The Problem Is Attention

Looking at social media for happiness is a bad idea. You won’t find it out there. Your happiness is determined by how you allocate your attention. What you attend to drives your behavior and it determines your happiness. 

Changing behavior and enhancing happiness is as much about withdrawing attention from the negative as it is about attending to the positive.

one more idea

Understand Your Performance Evaluation

Find out if your performance evaluation is according to what you understand. Identify your goals and key performance indicators with your manager, and discuss accordingly.

Solve your Blind Spots

Ask for feedback, learn from it and adjust your performance (or behavior) according to the areas of improvement that you get to know from others.

Example: After giving a presentation, talk about what went well and ask if there is something that you could have done better.

Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal with a record of your learnings and feedback (areas of improvement) can keep us on the right path, and speed up our progress, and learning too.

Listing out 5 or 10 areas of improvement and tracking the progress in weekly or monthly reviews is a great way to develop your career.

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We all make bad decisions

While we may not like to admit this, we all are making a lot of bad decisions, be it our personal lives, careers or in our jobs. Here is what research says about making good decisions:

The right information, not more

If there is too much information, we tend to make the wrong decision, and even if our decision is well-researched and considered right, we end up dissatisfied. 

The right information, even if less, provides clarity to make the right decision.

Gut feelings vs logic

A gut feeling, or an instinct, is often the right path, and points towards the right decision.

Ultra-rational, logical and unemotional decision-making does not guarantee that the decision taken will be the right one.

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Short-term thinking

Most of us imagine that we engage in some form of long-term thinking; after all, we have goals and plans. And basically we are in denial about this because it is hard to have perspective about our ...

Unintended consequences

Because we mostly react instead of think, our actions are based on insufficient information. We grab for a solution without thinking deeply about the context of the problem: e.g: We try to cheer up a depressed person by making her realize that her life is not that bad and that the sun is shining, only to find out we have made her even more depressed. She now feels guilty about her feelings, worthless, and more alone in her unhappiness.

Tactical hell

You find yourself embroiled in several struggles or battles. You seem to get nowhere but you feel like you have invested so much time and energy already that it would be a waste to give up. You have actually  lost sight of your goals. Instead it has become a question of asserting your ego.

You need some detachment and perspective. Remind yourself that winning an argument or proving your point really gets you nowhere in the long run.

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