It’s About People, Not Paper
Adam Grant posted the graph above from The National Bureau of Economic Research which shows the growing need for social skills in the workplace even as we rely more than ever on technology. I am always impressed with Grant’s work but in this case I would take Grant’s post farther. It is not just the workplace where social skills are critical; they are the only thing that will help us in this complex and challenging world. We won’t solve the problems of the world through technology without connecting with each other first.
Years ago, when I was hired at Merrill Lynch, I proudly put my nose to the grindstone and tried to churn out work. However, my mentor, Jan, told me “it’s about people, not paper.” She was right though now we might say “it’s about people, not tech”. In my time at Merrill Lynch and since then in my own consulting company I continually remind myself that it is more important to connect with people, help them in what they need to do and then collaborate in getting the work done. Not only does the work get done, the work environment improves, people learn from each other and it brings out the best in everyone.
Focusing on social skills is exactly what we need on a global level, even as we use technology as the part of the solution. We need to hone our people skills. We need to stop pressing buttons and start engaging in dialogue. We need to stop staring at screens so that we can look into the eyes of other people to see who they really are. Social skills are rarely being taught these days and in its place technology is creating a mindset that views the world and people as machines. That mindset can only end with someone pulling the plug.
It’s about people, now more than ever.