Dr Timothy Hsi
As we roll into the 2nd half of 2022, it is opportune for us to consider lessons learnt over the past 2 years and apply these learnings as we navigate the constantly shifting career landscape ahead of us. In this 4 part series, I will cover 2 learnings for employees and 2 learnings for employers.
As an employee
1. Employers are increasingly looking for M-shaped employees who add value to their companies.
What is an “M” shaped employee? This term was introduced sometime between 2017 and 2020 on various sites. For those of us not familiar with this, here is a quick run down of the difference between an M shaped employee and an “I” shaped employee.
I Shaped employees are individuals trained as specialists. These professionals have a strong focus on a single aspect of work which in turn demonstrates depth of knowledge and experience regarding that one particular area. As an example, for many years I was highly skilled as a counsellor. That was my focus. I was a counsellor in a high school and it was due to this deep skill that I was recruited into SMU in 2003 to start up the counselling service. I didn’t know much about other disciplines as it was not in my interest then.
M shaped employees are individuals with multiple expertise (vertical bars in the M) backed by transferable skills and knowledge which allows them to easily collaborate and apply their expertise in highly fluid and adaptable manner. Let me provide another example from my own career journey. Apart from counselling skills, I also have deep expertise in the area of career development as well as expertise to facilitate highly impactful workshops and lessons. These areas of expertise are backed on the horizontal such as transferable skills and knowledge in the areas of operating a business, marketing, sales pitches as well as knowing how to utilise interpersonal skills such as emotional intelligence, communication and adaptability.
As you journey into the 2nd half of this year, it might be useful to pause and reflect on your career development. Are you currently more I shaped or M shaped? What are the additional areas of expertise you could develop over the next 6 months? What are the transferable skills you know you have that you can leverage on?
Part 2 of this article will be released next week.