In parts one through three of this series, we have explored power skills and their role in the workplace, examining the impact that the Power Skills shortage has had on employers. By diving into both personal effectiveness skills and workplace competencies, we have also highlighted some of the most sought-after employee characteristics by employers. In a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor at Columbia University, emphasized that emotional intelligence (EI) - a key part of many Power Skills - can be developed and improved (unlike IQ, which is static.)1 This assertion is most significant when considering the fact that EI has been shown to be twice as important as cognitive abilities in predicting outstanding employee performance.2

With this knowledge, what can organizations do to improve the Power Skills of both candidates and employees? In the fourth and final installment of our series, we provide four tactical ways that companies can help develop a career-ready workforce:

1. Give Young Professionals the Language They Need to Succeed

Unfortunately, young professionals are often lacking the appropriate terminology needed to put Power Skills into action. For example, if one were to walk into a youth organization and ask what "integrity" means, they may face a room of blank stares. In many cases, we are taking values that are inherent and are trying to bridge the gap for individuals who may not have role models or may not understand the vocabulary behind these values. Providing workforce entrants with the language to verbalize power skill behaviors helps them identify and assimilate the corresponding skills.  

2. Create Opportunities Outside of the Job Function

Teaching new skills should be a combination of academic learning and hands-on experience; learning does not happen in a textbook, but in an interpersonal environment. By assigning responsibilities outside of their traditional job function, companies can challenge their employees to take on new situations, expand skill sets, and improve their critical thinking skills by encouraging them to think on their feet.3 Even promoting community service projects or creating company culture teams gives employees a chance to observe, learn and apply Power Skills in real-life situations.

3. Invest in Power Skills Training

Employers' demand for Power Skills remains strong, with 44% of U.S. executives reporting soft skills as the biggest proficiency gap in the American labor force.4 When the technical skills alone to do the job are not enough, it is often the way a person approaches their job and how they communicate with others that makes them truly successful at their job. In a report from the International Association of Administrative Professionals, OfficeTeam and, just 9 percent of HR managers said they'd hire a strong technical candidate with weak soft skills - in comparison to the 67 percent who said they would hire an applicant with superior soft skills even if they lacked technical skills.4 Employers can help to solve their own hiring challenges by partnering with training and education providers to promote Power Skills development. For example, Penn Foster's Career Readiness Bootcamp is designed to help both employees and prospects develop the employability skills needed for long-term career success.

4. Create Individual Development Plans

Creating a conversation around employee development will help guide the growth process of your workers by determining the areas where they excel and require additional learning. Employees with strong Power Skills make for better managers, and promoting from within is often the most cost-effective way to fill needed management roles. Making Power Skills development a compulsory element of each of your employees' development plans will help build a pipeline of talent ready to advance in your organization. What it comes down to is not just bringing people into the company, but how you help them grow into leaders.

Want to learn more about Penn Foster's Career Readiness Bootcamp and get started on building the employability skills of your prospects and employees? Click below for additional information:

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Recommended for You: Developing a Career-Ready Workforce, Part 3: The Foundational Value of Workplace Competencies

Resources: Photo credit. (1) HBR: Can You Really Improve Your EM (2) HBR: What Makes a Leader (3) Forbes: 8 Key Tactics for Developing Employees (4) SHRM: HR's Hard Challenge