Generalist vs Specialist Skills. What skills are needed in the workplace? Which will help me advance in my career?

Specialisation is better

https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/specialists-vs-generalists

A saying goes: Jack of all trades, master of none.

Mastery of skills gives humans satisfaction. Specialists, with a deeper understanding of subject matter, can better spot and seize on emerging opportunities. Specialists may also have an easier time collaborating because it’s clearer how the work can be shared.

According to the Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019, 65 per cent of Singapore employers favour technical skills, like project management, over soft skills, like problem-solving, when hiring new employees. 

Division of labor and specialisation is a chief source of productivity gains using the example of factory assembly line. Output per worker increases in multiples; the factory becomes extremely efficient in producing items.

Should I specialize my career as a specialist or as a generalist such as consulting where I’m exposed to a variety of experiences and skills?

According to “structure” proponents, organizing by function allows for task specialization leading to process efficiencies and production consistency (no variations in the end product). https://hbr.org/2019/03/why-data-science-teams-need-generalists-not-specialists?referral=03759&cm_vc=rr_item_page.bottom

When is specialisation not so hot?

Specialisation increases coordination costs whereas Generalists are better at moving between functions. 

Specialisation may have its detractors, with some suggesting that it leads to the “dulling of talent where workers become ignorant and insular as their roles are confined to a few repetitive task”.

Specialization may provide process efficiencies, some say, but it is less likely to inspire workers.

Are some sectors more prone to specialisation skills, e.g. engineering, medical research or cyber security, u need specialist skills surely. But it’s good generalist skills that will get u to the top.

https://hbr.org/2018/07/when-generalists-are-better-than-specialists-and-vice-versa

Interestingly researchers Theodoridis found that generalists were “strongest in fields with a slower pace of change. Example, oil and gas, mining, it might be harder for specialists to come up with new ideas and identify new opportunities, while generalists may be able to find inspiration” connecting the dots from other areas.

If you’re a Manager, would you prefer to employ specialists or generalist?

In fields with a faster pace of change, eg quantum computers and gene editing, the researchers found that “generalists may struggle to stay up to date, while specialists can more easily make sense of new technical developments and opportunities as they arise.”

Research also discovered that generalist roles drive job satisfaction providing: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy in that they are not dependent on someone else for success. Mastery in that they know the business capability from end-to-end. And, purpose in direct connection to the impact on the business they’re making.

Generalists are more passionate about their work and making a big impact on the company.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2020/07/23/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-its-not-personal-its-cultural/

Generalists =Mastery + Versatile + More tools in your toolbox.

Google’s Project Oxygen used internal company data to identify what makes a great manager. The list of traits of Google’s best managers revealed coaching, empowerment and inclusivity among the key skills for effective leadership. Tellingly, technical and specialist skills do not appear on this list. 

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Shifted my desert rose from sun to shade. It started to thrive.

Who would have thought when the seller at Chatuchat market said it was sun loving.

Relook assumptions of what makes you thrive. Have a supportive environment that believes in you.

Mastering Adulthood” by Lara Fielding, PsyD.

Mind Warps: Can our brains distort reality or as Dr Fielding calls them “thinking errors”.

Do you trust your thoughts? One of my clients is going through a “Nobody cares! Im alone in the world” moment. Dr Fielding recommends a Mindful Mastery practice to Validate, Check and Change.

Skill 1: Notice: mind warps (examples below), catastrophizing.

Skill 2: Ask: is the thought 100% true?

Skill 3: Compassionately reframe.

1. All or none, black and white thinking – She always gets all the rewards.

2. Blaming – Hold others responsible for something that went wrong. If not for you, I would have… its all your fault. You screwed up my life. My mom wont let me…

3. Catastrophizing – assume the worst that can happen. I recall a client who thinks the plane will crash when he’s queuing at the visa office.

4. Emotional reasoning – mistake feelings for facts. If I feel nervous, it must be bad.

5. Mind reading – assuming others are upset about you when you see them frowning. She thinks Im stupid.

6. Minimization or Magnification – That doesnt count. My parents taught me not to boast or show off. Afterawhile every time I get a “compliment” or positive feedback from a student, I think they want something out of me. I disregard all the compliments I get from my students. Result – burnout. I magnify all the negative comments from 1 student of a class of 45 or a cohort of 120 students each semester. Lol.

7. Overgeneralizing and time travelling – if it happened in the past, it will happen again. One of my clients who is in her 70s talks about being bullied by her mother in law who died 20 years ago. She talks about this everyday if she has nothing dramatic to complain.

8. Personalizing – why is this happening to me? Eg. When something breaks and needs repair. Rather than thinking, all things break.

Any of these mind warps are common traps for you?

Do pick up this very practical book. Dr Fielding has QR codes for more videos on the topic.

Reflect + Reset + Results

The Human Capital Institute shared on a post that workplace loneliness is on thr rise, citing a study conducted by Edelman and Cigna, in 2019, 45.7% of American workers reported feeling lonely at work. This is up from 44% in 2018.

In a study on Cigna US Loneliness Index, the numbers are even higher for Gen Z, workers aged 18-22, of whom 73% report sometimes or always feeling alone, up from 69% a year ago (Source: CNBC).

Ju Ming sculpture in Buona Vista, Singapore

Why is it a concern?

According to Cigna CEO David Cordani, disconnections show up in other mental health issues such as depression or stress. Many young people feel that there is no one to turn to at the workplace whether it is to have a coffee or chill.

What can I do?

Make suggestions for workplace connecting. Build trust and fun activity that colleagues can do together to break the ice. I recall my colleagues in France bring a cake to office to chill. We in Singapore took turns to bring breakfast to work. My younger colleagues brought breakfast from their culture such as putu mayam, bought from the hawker centre across the street.

Trust and connections take time to build. We are all waiting for someone to reach out and make the first move.

If you are a worplace manager, consider what you can do to improve workplace culture. Hint: Open office layout and “work from home” are not solutions to lower loneliness at work. More suggestions.

How about setting a challenge for yourself and make the first move?

Share with me your thoughts in the comments below.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/23/loneliness-is-rising-younger-workers-and-social-media-users-feel-it-most.html

Previously, I posted a short article on tools for facilitating virtual classroom. For asynchronous virtual classrooms, here are more tools to consider:

1. How to download videos – Sign up for premium account. Add ss to youtube. Be careful of copyright.

2. Record your screen on screencastomatic and edit on Camtasia. Another option is Kaltura. Why not record on Microsoft ppt? There may be storage problem as your file becomes too big.

3. Podcast

4. Create Infographic materials in bite-sized content via CANVA, Piktochart etc.

5. Twitter to keep up to date with current events. Twitter also has a polls function to survey your followers for views.

6. Blogs, Instagram, Pinterest for collaborative sharing.

7. Quizz like Kahoot, Socrative to test for learning and recall. Mentimeter, Google Forms to get feedback.

8. Digital Badges: Credly, Badgr, Accredible, Open Badges.Org Don’t you love recognition?

I’ve received feedback that many organisations and companies today have their own Organisation Learning Management System platform and these tools I’ve posted are useful for them as well.

If you’ve tried any of the above tools, pls share your comments with me below. Thank you. Stay safe. :-+

#Techtools #Virtual #Facilitation

My best wishes to everyone, esp teachers and children going to school on the morning after end of Circuit Breaker. Taking delight in our everyday. We share the same sky.

A sign of new beginings and better times to come?

Taken on my Samsung hp on 2 June 2020, 654am, the first day after Circuit Breaker. The colors lasted 5 min. Ive never seen this before too. Then the colors changed.

Image size reduced with Photoshop express app.

1. Polling can be created on paid version of Zoom as well as MS Teams. Share results of polls to members. Example as an ice-breaker on generation diversity.

2. “Break out rooms” in Zoom for pair-n-share.

3. Whiteboard on Zoom for Affirmation to a group member, brainstorm or leaving feedback. Eg. Pose a question such as “Your favourite Leader”. “Annotate” function allows you to save the screen in a folder as a keepsake esp if its a “Affirmation” card.

4. Padlet is another tech whiteboard on its own. Used in the same way as above to write affirmations for someone or feedback. Create columns eg “I like” vs “I wish you could”. You can also load photos/images for sharing eg ice-breaker instead of bringing an item to class for “Show and Tell”, ask participanta to share their favourite item, or what they had for lunch.

5. MURAL – Post-its for brainstorming eg in case study. Alternatives are Miro and Google’s Jamboard.

6. Kahoot for simple exercises to test recall of information and understanding.

7. Menti-meter to survey the room eg years of experience. Sharing of expectations. Polling can be done. Brainstorm of ideas.

8. Classroom Screen for timers eg to track time taken for an activity or break

9. Wheel of names – for awkward moments where no participant wants to share. Round robin – cold calling.

10. Url shortener: https://www.shorturl.at/

11. How to download videos – Sign up for premium account. Add ss to youtube.

#Techtools #Virtual #Facilitation

T is for treasure. As a result of covid, the gym is locked, many of us have to turn to our neighbourhood parks.

View from Henderson Waves, Mt Faber Park

This is the view I see everyday as a result of daily walks. Although I moved into this neighbourhood ten years ago, I barely walk here 5 times prior to Covid, prefer to be stuck on my treadmill breathing in stale air.

View from my friend’s balcony

Yesterday, at 6pm, my friend who lives in another part of Singapore snapped this beautiful splash of colours in the evening sky from her balcony. We are never outside our office cubicle at 6pm. Even when she sent this photo, I didnt catch the evening light as I was on Zoom till 730pm..

What treasure from your neighbour are you missing? T is not for terrible or terror. T is for the treasure around, we fail to observe.

#treasure #TIME #Treasureinmyenvironment

https://qz.com/1712239/a-childrens-book-about-the-global-economy-and-the-future-of-work/

A children’s book about the global economy and the future of work — Quartz

Quartz’s Dan Kopf and Bárbara Abbês, Alphabet for the Next Global Economy

A is for Automation,
That great destroyer of jobs,
In the olden days,
It brought out the mobs
It can also be great,
Something people can dig,
The agricultural revolution for example,
Farming was a really hard gig
The effect is complicated,
It creates and it ends,
Is it going to hurt you?
Hard to know, it depends

This is what I call creativity. Combining two simple ideas and creating a fabulous and essential product. References to American companies like Uber which may confuse some.

Whats better, the words rhyme and comes as an audiobook. Three simple ideas into another outstanding product.

Im definitely trying to buy some as gifts for Christmas. Useful not only for children but for most of us trying to learn the vocabulary of the new normal.

A will be Agile or Adapt to the changing trends. With change, we certainly see no end.

If you were to recreate your own alphabet set, what’s A for you?

Im watching a Netflix documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Not being a basketball fan, this is the first time I see what it means to be an NBA basketball player. The footwork, the mid range throw, strategy, teamwork, 4 hrs practice sessions. MJ’s mid range throws improved as his athletic prowess diminished with age. 10 000hr rule. He improved over the years.

Food for thought on what such work ethics mean for my profession and my craft?

I pick up “Daily Rituals- Women at Work” by Mason Currey, page turned to Lynne Fontanne (1887-1983).

Currey researched Jared Brown’s “The Fabulous Lunts” and wrote that the theatre couple “worked out a meticulous routine for their sessions at home. Memorisation of lines came first…. Each would shout out the lines of the play without disturbing the other. After they felt reasonably secure in their lines, they worked in the same room, sitting facing each other… they began to exchange dialogue. If one of them faltered or gave the wrong lines, the other clapped his knees together and the scene began again. After several such sessions, their knees may have been bruised but they were letter perfect in their lines.” ( This reminded me of a comment of MJ when he played baseball. He practicised until his hands bled.)

“Once memorisation was complete, rehearsals began, with (the couple) playing each scene over and over again, each time modifying their characters” attitude and intentions. After multiple run throughs, they would come to an agreement about which version had been the most successful, and … another round of rehearsals “making small modifications to gestures, looks, points of emphasis, relentlessly polisgung every detail. Only after this (exhaustive) extensive “homework” would the Lunts be reasldy to rehearse with the other actors in a production – and even then, they continued to rehearse by themselves at home afterward.”

I stop copying here, not because Im afraid Currey would accuse me of plagiarism but because Im exhausted. Just the thought of this amount of practice. I always thought spontaneity would lead to materials being fresh.

Reading about “Ten Chimneys” their holiday home where the Lunts spent summers in personal amd artistic rejuvenation entertaining guests like Laurence Olivier and the likes of the creative folks. Its amazing to note that such sensitive folks do not feel threatened by others in the show business.

How much am I willing to put in to perfect my craft? If I get a coach, am I willing to listen?