Five future skills to develop today with employee storytelling

by | Resources

Developing Future Skills

What are future skills and why do they matter?

Everyone’s talking about future skills. With the World Economic Forum predicting that half of the global workforce will need to reskill by 2025 organisations are scrambling to introduce new processes, technologies and strategies to support the division of work between human and machine.

Tracking digital and socio-economic transformation, the soothsayers have predicted a future skills shift for some time but in 2016 when the WEF coined the term ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ this cemented their importance in the here and now. And this year, post-pandemic, ‘Upskilling / Reskilling’ topped the Global Learning Sentiment Survey chart on its first appearance. We are all gripped by the need to stay relevant.

So, what do we need to do to keep current? The majority of the top 10 work skills for tomorrow are cognitive and interpersonal such as critical thinking, active learning, social influence and emotional intelligence. Technology skills are a critical part of the mix but it’s the enduring capabilities that take up the lion’s share.

Of course, many of these skills have been part of leadership programme curricula for decades but the double disruption of automation and the pandemic demands that they are democratised, so we can all stand alongside the algorithms in the next wave of work. And, with 94% of business leaders expecting employees to pick up new skills on the job, what techniques can we use to oil these wheels of change right now?

How can we start supporting these future skills today?

Whilst you can introduce critical thinking, storytelling and emotional intelligence in a classroom setting, or even via digital learning content, in terms of theory, purpose and techniques to try, in the majority of cases the most effective way to embed them is through practice. Take critical thinking for example. Unless you actually take a concept, identify the key ideas or arguments, consider the evidence that backs this up and bring in other viewpoints and sources you’re not going to improve your critical thinking.

Embedding active learning and ways to practice these future skills into how we work is a great way forward, particularly when combined with technical skills. There’s lots of great writing on the evidence base for this, which are beyond the scope of this article, but a couple of recent examples are:

      • The excellent Let’s Get To Work series on productive learning strategies by Paul A. Kirschner, Mirjam Neelen, Tine Hoof & Tim Surma which critically digs deeper in to a wide range of learning methods and;
      • This piece and thread from Bob Mosher on how leadership skills can be better integrated points to practical and effective ways forward.

Employee video storytelling as an active learning strategy

Where does employee video storytelling fit into all this? Increasingly, L&D teams are turning to people from across the organisation to crowdsource expertise, feedback and experiences. Guided video storytelling, using a platform like StoryTagger, is a growing, effective discipline for sharing tacit knowledge that can support and upskill others. But, it’s not just about user-generated content. It helps people develop the skills we need right now.

Encouraging employees to reflect, codify and communicate work experiences not only produces valuable content to help others but also the act of reflecting and crafting concise narratives means storytellers develop these must-have future skills at the same time. And, this is one of the core reasons we started StoryTagger. It enables anyone to develop their own cross-cutting skills whilst discovering and sharing something of value to support others.



Develop future skills with workplace storytelling

Start using video storytelling as an active learning strategy in the flow of work


Which skills can you directly support through guided video storytelling?

So, what future skills does guided video storytelling actually support? And, how can you use StoryTagger in development and work activities to improve them? There’s a lot of cross-over between the five skills listed below. You can use these examples as targeted one offs, recurrent activities or as part of a development programme.

1. Reflection and reflective practice

Reflective practice is a crucial cognitive skill which helps you to develop a critical understanding of your own practice so you can codify what you’ve learned or done and then change or improve. Harvard researchers have found that 82% people struggle to reflect and codify their experiences but when they do, performance improves. So, reflection is hard and most of us want to just keep on ‘doing’ but it’s the foundation for making meaning that delivers not only our own personal growth but also organisational impact. The good news is reflective practice is a fundamental process built into StoryTagger.

Example video storytelling activities:

      • Complete a video learning log reflecting on progress at key or routine moments of a project, development programme or experience.
      • For a topic such as dealing with difficult conversations, consider a recent situation which didn’t go to plan. Include questions which help people apply curiosity not judgement.
      • Identify and share a real world tip that helps you do things simpler, faster, smarter every day.

2. Storytelling and communication skills

Storytelling is the golden thread of learning and growth. Stories are memorable and help us connect with any subject matter. They’re also crucial for helping us make sense of the maelstrom of data out there – whether it’s to communicate quarterly figures to the board or analyse customer profile data to inform a customer persona.

People often find it easier to recount what they’ve been told by others rather than create their own story so scaffolding and structure will really support this skill. The classic Hero’s journey, most referenced by learning professionals and adopted by Pixar, contains all the key hallmarks of a great story of transformation. It’s compelling and as it shows the struggle we learn something too. There are many ways to experiment and practice with guided video storytelling to improve these skills and StoryTagger has lots of templates to support this:

Example video storytelling activities:

      • Use principles of the Hero’s Journey to tell a transformative story. This works brilliantly with career journeys where people can reflect on their goals, challenges, diversions, revelations and what they’ve achieved or learned.
      • Craft an elevator pitch to support an innovation competition or internal business case. This can contain prompts to draw out the problem, solution, target audience, business impact, the ask.
      • Practice the PREP (Point, Reason, Evidence, Point) framework to support giving an impromptu presentation. This translates to State it, Explain it, Show it, Conclude it.

Harvard researchers have found that 82% people struggle to reflect and codify their experiences but when they do, performance improves.

3. Critical thinking

Critical thinking skills help us understand and influence situations based on all available data and information. In a hyper-mediated world, with ever-increasing volumes of content and opinion, critical thinking and sense-making is essential. It helps us make better decisions and problem solve by being able to evaluate evidence, effectively gather, understand and interpret information from different sources, collaborate more deeply and add value to different situations.

Example video storytelling activities:

      • Set a mission for individuals to identify a challenge at work that’s stopping them deliver against goals, share evidence to support why it’s happening and what can be done differently.
      • Gen up on industry knowledge by researching insights and sharing a synopsis with colleagues and what it means for the company or their role.
      • Support a hackathon around a company or team challenge by using guided video storytelling to work out loud and capture reflections on the problem solving and creative process.

4. Emotional intelligence

According to Daniel Goleman emotional intelligence is the largest single predictor of success in the workplace. It helps us connect and better understand our colleagues and customers. As self-awareness is such a crucial component of emotional intelligence, the strong bond between emotional intelligence, storytelling and reflective practice is clear. There’s lots of ways guided video storytelling can increase empathy and emotional intelligence and it’s an excellent technique for exploring our own and other’s experiences.

Example video storytelling activities:

      • Visit your values. What drives you? What makes you do what you do? How does this relate to your role and company values?
      • Tell someone else’s story. This requires you to actively listen to others, put yourself in their shoes and what matters to them.
      • Get out of your comfort zone. Many people may be fearful of recording a video for work and don’t think they know what to say so following a structure is a great solution and helps people recognise their own value.

5. Leadership and social influence

As lots of jobs become more specialised, and we work in cross-functional teams to meet shared goals, an increasing level of collaboration means we are all leaders now. The ability to communicate our ideas with both judgement and influence via different channels is essential. Plus, we can also now democratise these skills and diversify the employee voice by opening up what has often just been the privilege of leadership programmes with everyone.

Example video storytelling activities:

      • Seek subject matter expertise and video feedback from a wider, more diverse range of employees – based on topic or through community ambassadors.
      • Record project video updates to seed meetings and share with stakeholders.
      • Give kudos by promoting and recognising team members who role model company values or purpose.



What’s next in developing the skills of tomorrow?

We need to make it easier for everyone to practice and learn these future skills in the flow of work. There’s a strong case for this. And, there are also times when it helps to step out of it, to reflect critically in the interests of our own personal growth and organisational performance. However, these aren’t mutually exclusive activities. Technical and cognitive or people skills aren’t either. You could be on a course about phishing and by reflecting on your behaviour, attitude and takeaways via guided video storytelling improve not only subject matter expertise but also critical thinking, reflective practice and communication skills all at the same time.

Guided video storytelling can be incorporated in the flow of work as a recurrent activity or embedded within a development programme. As an active learning strategy, guided video storytelling is a practical, accessible, impactful way to learn and practice the work skills of tomorrow that we need today.

See for yourself how StoryTagger develops future skills. Book a demo.