Coordinating with others is the essential skill of the future

There are so many skills out there it can be hard to know what to work on, but it looks like coordinating with others is a top skill for this year.

A key skill for 2020 projected by the World Economic Forum Future of Work report is “coordinating with others.” It seems so pedestrian, can it even be called a skill? Is it possible that coordinating with others is something that can be done badly by anyone at all?

Well yes it can, especially in today’s hyper-complex workplace where the pace of change is unprecedented.

What is coordinating with others?

Co-ordination is defined by as:

The organisation of the different elements of a complex body/activity so as to enable them to work together effectively. “An important managerial task is the control and coordination of activities”

Implicit in the concept of effective teamwork, and therefore the success of your organisation, is the ability to coordinate successfully with one another. This involves the basic notion that none of us work in isolation. There are lots of quotes from men about team work. There are some quotes that touch the core of effective team work. Two quotes that stand out for me are from women:

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

“It takes two flints to make a fire.” Louisa May Alcott

coordinating with others

Today’s workplaces

Our workplaces are becoming more complex and involve multi-generational workforces. As a result, managing the impact of AI and different work patterns, coordinating with others, has become even more demanding. At one time a workforce was frequently under one roof, but today different members of a team may be scattered geographically. They may have varied work schedules and be impacted by different cultural influences. This can affect their approach to a project or even work itself.

Good coordination seems straight forward, but can be challenging for many. Poor coordination can have a significant impact on productivity and the results of your team. This in turn impacts business success including loss of revenue, damage to reputation, unhappy customers and so on. An effective coordinator will have access to and build up reliable data, which helps anticipate difficulties, delays and hurdles. That information supports the team to take corrective action to get a piece of work or project can get back on track.

Good coordination with others involves the successful overlapping and synergy between three key elements.

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corodinating with others

3 key components to coordinate with others

1. Organisational skills

An effective coordinator will have an excellent eye for detail. They will be able to store, track and retrieve critical information when it’s needed. This is imperative to give any team the flexibility to make data-driven decisions in a timely way. We have all been in situation where time has been lost simply looking for key information, that missing email or Excel spread sheet glitch.

2. Communication skills

The ability to communicate in a precise and clear way, so that everyone involved will understand, is a vital part of the co-ordination skill set. This allows everyone to take on board what is expected of them. It is also important to be thorough, efficient, and understand when there is a need to communicate either formally or informally in writing. Good coordination needs a neutral mindset. It requires overcoming personal biases and preferences, putting to one side a personal opinion, if it is not relevant to the outcome.

Efficient coordination skills will involve attentive listening. It means checking that everyone is on the same page and not likely to disappear and do their own thing. It is about pulling together the disparate pieces until they form a cohesive whole.

3. People skills

Being able to build up trust and strong relationships is vital to managing the workflow between individuals. Understanding the differences in people’s personalities, working style and preferences, how they respond to pressure and deadlines, and the type of support they need, also helps. If you treat everyone the same – introverts and extroverts, team players and functional specialists, the results may not be great. The ability to identify differences such as knowing who kicks in just before the deadline and who prefers ongoing feedback, contributes to the effective flow of a complex project is very important.

In our multi-cultural, geographically-dispersed workplaces, having a good understanding of the roots of different approaches is now indispensable. A frustrated project manager complained about not being able to reach a Spanish colleague at 3.00 pm, not realising that this is the time most Spaniards are at lunch.

How to improve coordinating with others

  1. Check your communication skills – ask colleagues for feedback. If you are not consistently clear, remember to touch base regularly with the stakeholders to be certain that everything you say makes sense.
  2. Improve your feedback skills, both giving and receiving.
  3. Recognise the value of each individual contribution to the whole – make a point of saying thank you
  4. Work on your organisation skills – enlist tech if you think that will help.
  5. Value relationships and inspire others to achieve results.
  6. Take initiative – work on your ability to assess priorities, take corrective action and make decisions as required. Avoid getting bogged down with extraneous details and non-urgent tasks. Stand up for your team if/ when it is under pressure and be able and willing to escalate more serious issues.

Today’s work environments are increasingly nuanced and navigating ambiguity is part of every day life. Being able to coordinate with others is going to at the heart of the work we all have to do to get the results we want.

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