“Always consider whether the way you achieve your success today is what will allow you to achieve your success tomorrow.” This is what a very successful, very wise executive and mentor told me many years ago when I was a young professional.
I’ve never forgotten his words. At the time, I was part of the IT industry in the U.S., which was going through some huge, fundamental changes. It was making a dramatic shift from a hardware- to software-driven industry, and from a primarily product- and relationship-selling to a consultative- and solutions-selling approach.
In line with his words, within the next three years, I saw many colleagues who were top sales in the company for many years suddenly out of a job and less competitive in the market. Unfortunately, their skill sets were much less relevant to the new realities of the industry and employment market.
New economy needs new skills
Today, I again think of my mentor’s words, since they certainly apply to this current time of major transformation in China that's happening at the country, industry, and company levels. Just a few years ago, the emphasis of China’s economy was mainly labor-intensive, and manufacturing- and export-based. Now, its future economic health depends on its ability to move towards being consumer-driven, and service- and knowledge-oriented.
Previously, the career success of many here was heavily aided by historic growth. It was an opportunistic time, where everything was at an early development, fast-growth stage. Within the employment market, there were fewer benchmarks and standards, as well as less competition for especially strong talent. You could say many were in the right place at the right time.
Today, China’s growth engine is slowing and undergoing another significant transition. Nearly every aspect of the economic landscape is more mature and competitive, while the talent and employment market is now much more transparent, professional, and International-caliber than before. There’s still growth and great opportunities, but you have to be much more solid to capture them.
In today’s market, you get what you earn.
Need to be stronger and more capable
Given these new realities, you want to be aware of the key qualities and capabilities that will most impact your ability to continue to be successful. The ones that I highly recommend you pay particular attention to and orient yourself around are:
Being value- and service-oriented – with more competition and channels to choose from, companies care increasingly more about delivering these two things to both consumers and other businesses.
Quality – what will differentiate greater value and service in many instances is the delivery of higher quality
Speed and efficiency – beyond just delivering better quality is the ability to also deliver it faster than others
Consumer and marketing sense – understanding user needs, differentiating your products/services, and being able to effectively engage customers will be essential for the success of any business.
Communication skills – as technology advances make the market busier and noisier, those who can identify, reach, and attract others with clear, concise, and unique messages will be the more successful ones.
Stronger soft skills! – to deliver all of the above, all roads to your future success run through your ability build and possess stronger soft skills!
Do today's changes bring you greater opportunities or difficulties?
Actually, any successful executive will tell you that times of big change are also times of big opportunity. The change creates a fresh start for everyone, since new approaches and models of success need to emerge. It allows a new generation of professionals to step into and fill the gaps in the market, which creates new opportunities that can accelerate your ability to achieve your success.
These new realities are toughest for those who are very established in their thinking and way of doing things. For many, they’re just not as nimble to adapt to the changes happening around them. As the saying goes, “It’s hard to teach an old dog, new tricks.”
In China today, more change isn’t coming. It’s arrived. And this next round of change is a significant one. From a career perspective, those who will continue to do well are the ones who are more self-aware, realistic, and able to change as well and learn new things. If this describes you, then I predict that this is going to be a great time of opportunity and success for you.