Food for thought

Studying Up on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Durable Skills

Hello everyone!


This past week has been one of reflection. After losing my home up north in January due to a flood, we finally received the items that survived the deluge. It was not much, but just enough to understand how much of it really meant nothing to me. 


In the past 60 days, we have seen wacky weather decimate people’s homes due to climate change. Our Ukrainian friends are fighting for their lives as their home is completely blown away over Putin’s ego. Our cities and homes are being ravaged by gun violence. What is COVID anymore? Doesn’t matter – what matters is every day, every person, everywhere is going through something. The biggest unspoken component about understanding diversity to drive inclusion and equity is asking and not assuming. 


Over the last few weeks, we’ve watched the amazing Ketanji Brown Jackson endure intense questioning (much of which was, quite frankly, completely absurd). Brown Jackson has demonstrated incredible thoughtfulness at every stage of her career, and her confirmation hearings were no exception. From the moment she became a judge, she asked questions in every case she presided over before making assumptions. Thoughtfulness is what is core to any judge – understanding the complexities of a case and laying out the best judgment with questions, evidence, and understanding. When we think about Brown Jackson’s experience over the past few decades, we should think not only about what she’s done, but how she’s done it.  We can all look up to her and learn when we ask, and not assume. 


Where do we start? Durable skills are what will be necessary today and tomorrow. Here’s a great quote from a Forbes article on this topic: “Durable skills are increasingly in demand, which means HR should start developing and hiring for these skills of the future. Durable skills have replaced soft skills as those highly sought after, rarely taught professional capabilities like problem-solving, leadership, critical thinking and personal skills like teamwork, flexibility, adaptability and creativity.”


The author goes on to define durable skills and explain what they are vis-a-vis soft skills: “Durable skills differ from hard skills in that hard skills are more often traditionally taught, easily measured and credentialed, while durable skills are seldom taught and are more challenging to measure. Durable skills are known for their long-life durability, while hard skills are often considered perishable. Think about durable skills like the roots or trunk of a tree, while hard skills are the branches and leaves that come and go with the seasons.”


We all need to be the trunks and focus on the skills that matter that can help unlock and unblock people, including ourselves.


So, how do people build these durable skills? Well, practice makes perfect as in the case of Jackson Brown. And it starts with professional development – not point in time, always in time. Here’s a great quote from a Harvard Business Review article on the topic: “I’ve found that on-the-job professional development is a nearly perfect solution to many of the problems facing companies today. Why? First, your people want it. The 2022 LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report found that employees believe professional development is the number-one way to improve company culture. And the consequences of neglecting development are significant. According to a report by The Execu|Search Group, 86% of professionals said that they would change jobs if a new company offered them more opportunities for professional development.”


Where do you start? It’s all about the data. Data asks – it doesn’t assume. This is a great article about effective performance reviews. Here’s an excerpt:“The most effective feedback includes specific details that are given in the moment — or as close to it as possible,” Davis said. “You need to make sure that feedback is given while the memory is still fresh for both people, so you can be as specific as possible on the behaviors and actions that took place. If you wait until a meeting at the end of the month, you’re going to lose that context.”


“Organizations can foster a healthy feedback culture by creating regular opportunities for dialogue on areas for improvement. One-to-one conversations are an impactful way of addressing emerging issues, while regular performance reviews help employees connect feedback to longer-term goals.”


Here’s the upshot: you have the people with all the possibility to build durable skills with the data you have to create much better workplaces that drive diversity and inclusion with questions, and not assumptions. We at GoCoach are here to help put this all into place, built for you, by you!

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