Davinia Simon, Head of Growth Markets, Stax, looks at the current lack of available digital skills in the workforce and how to identify and recruit staff with 10x qualities.
When the pandemic hit, companies all over the world were forced to significantly accelerate their technical modernization efforts overnight. While digital front runners, such as Singapore, South Korea and Australia implemented swift changes, many countries struggled and continue to do so.
Technical modernization has been difficult in a lot of Asia-Pacific, as much of the workforce is employed by small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). In Southeast Asia alone, SMEs make up 99% of all enterprises in the region. Pre-pandemic, these businesses often put off digitalization and modernization due to a misconception that such efforts would entail high costs.
Businesses of all sizes are now feeling the crunch. According to a recent survey by Skillsoft, 75% of technology decision-makers in Asia-Pacific are experiencing critical skills gaps across their teams. PwC also found that more than one in three CEOs in the region are concerned about the availability of key digital skills in the workforce, above the global average of 28%.
With skills gaps expected to prevail for several years, companies need to ensure that they are hiring and upskilling to attract and retain the best talent. Helping deliver successful, on-going technical modernization and innovation is now central to almost every employee’s role. Skills gaps will continue to persist for some sectors, but for most, tackling these challenges head on and creating the right culture to enable growth will deliver long term success.
How to identify and recruit 10x qualities
A ‘10x engineer’ or a 10xer is a term that originated in Silicon Valley, stemming from the observation that a highly efficient engineer can achieve 10 times more than an average engineer. These 10xers have exceptional skills, high enthusiasm, extremely positive attitudes, bottomless curiosity, and great vision and outlook. They also possess enough modesty to take great advice when it’s offered.
Rather than looking for the needle in the haystack, or an individual 10xer person, companies across APAC should look to hire for ‘10x qualities’ and to build a 10x culture. These qualities reside in people that can carry out work in an exceptionally efficient manner but own and acknowledge they aren’t invincible.
They have the same level of failures and mistakes as others, but they’re great at overcoming issues and creating success. They’re also good at asking smart questions, facilitating conversation and constructive debate, and know how to build rapport among a variety of stakeholders.
Those with 10x qualities see problem-solving as a fun activity. They are results-oriented and have all the key technical skills to do their job well. However, empathy, while more difficult to seek based on interviews, is truly one of the most desirable and important traits of an excellent employee.
These individuals often need to lead large groups of people, which requires them to be understanding, approachable, flexible and empowering. When they speak, they offer great insights into the business. Empathy helps them negotiate egos and have meaningful conversations with the senior leadership.
How to retrain and upskill existing employees to 10x
In the face of persistent skills challenges, businesses can upskill and train existing employees and ensure that they are equipped to operate in the digital-first world. Doing so will help focus staff on delivering the best outcomes for a business and will have a positive domino effect across the team.
Three practices can help employees build transformative 10x qualities:
- Overhaul tasks that involve ineffective and inefficient processes. According to a report by McKinsey, more than 40% of employees surveyed spend at least 25% of their week on time-consuming tasks. The same research also found that 60% of employees estimate they could save six or more hours a week if these tasks were automated.
Incorporate tools and platforms into your company that help free employees from laborious processes while also supporting knowledge sharing. This will drive efficiencies; help employees focus on delivering on key tasks and democratize knowledge rather than it being housed with one or two specialist team members – all of which improves business outcomes.
- Offer fast and readily digestible training to help upskill employees. Short but insightful lessons can help increase retention rates and entice employees to complete more training in a faster time frame. Employees should also be paired with a mentor that’s already on the path to 10x and can share practical guidance and helpful resources.
- Ensure the culture aligns to the 10x way of working, largely by providing flexibility and freedom for employees to grow. Those in management roles must also share active feedback with their teams, allowing employees to learn on a day-to-day basis.
By fostering the type of culture that helps your employees advance faster, you’re developing their skills and increasing their potential to earn a higher salary. You’re also likely to increase workplace engagement and employee wellbeing in the process.
Building an environment where excellent employees thrive is about evolving your focus beyond individuals to support the entire team. It’s about upskilling all employees and making them more efficient and emotionally intelligent than they were before. Considering the persistent digital skills shortage across Asia-Pacific, creating more 10xers is proving essential to delivering on-going business success.Click below to share this article