Human Capital

The New Online Platform Supporting Technical Teams in Growing Its Members Soft skills

Interview with Nicole Półtorak, Founder of Movephorward

MovePhorward supports technical teams in growing their members soft skills through practice in real life situation. The biggest skills gap in corporates is caused by lack of persuasion, creativity and collaboration – therefore, MovePhorward focuses on these 3 skills.

Please tell us about Movephorward ? What inspired you to build it?

NP: MovePhorward was inspired my personal experience. The first 20 years of my life I’ve spent preparing to become a scientist and investing my time into acquiring technical skills. Working on industry projects at the university, I realized I’m more excited about implementing technology. I decided to transition into business through joining McKinsey. Only then did I understand the power of soft skills. However, the path to develop them was chaotic. Despite gaining general awareness of different techniques, it was hard to get into a habit of using them in real life. The knowledge was never presented in practical terms. It was spread across different resources reminding an unsolvable puzzle. With my working hours, I couldn’t get dedicated learning time or spend hours with a coach. I came up with an idea for a tool embedding learning into activities I have to do in my day anyway. That’s how MovePhorward was created. I have expertise in analyzing human behaviour with deep learning algorithms, self-development and neuroscience – putting me in great position to deliver that solution. 

What are soft skills exactly and why are they so important ? 

NP: The term “soft skills” is controversial. We should all start calling them “power skills”. Soft skills define the success in life. No matter what area you work in. Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills. This insight was first revealed in 1918. Despite knowing that for so long, most of us consider soft skills secondary and fluffy. The reason is that we are not able to scientifically quantify them. That is what MovePhorward aims to solve.

Will these skills be even more essential in the future, when many workers will be replaced by AI?

NP: The automation will increase the importance of soft skills because basic technical work will be the first to be automated after the repetitive, administrative tasks. Think about the processes of creativity, persuasion and collaboration. They are complex to understand for humans, let alone be replicated by machines. Even now, creativity, persuasion and collaboration are mentioned as the top missing skills in corporates according to 2020 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report. Another aspect that makes this issue even more pressing is that we are biased towards our own soft skills. We overestimate how good we are.

When applying for an executive role, many employers look for soft skills in the candidates. How are they being measured / tested ?

NP: Employers use open-ended interview questions to extrapolate the soft skills levels. Some repeat the process with a few interviewers to achieve a less biased result. Some give candidates a task and observe them work. The caveat is that this only shows a snapshot of a person instead of a full story. Many factors may be overlooked. Those with weak storytelling skills are particularly disadvantaged. Thus, MovePhorward with its microchallenges will help its employee users to collect the stories showcasing their skills – instead of just providing them with a certificate. This will let employers successfully identify and promote talent internally.

How is your company leveraging / improving persuasion, collaboration and creativity techniques?

Everyday, we give our users a technique and a microchallenge connected to their life where they can apply it. The example microchallenge could be “you want to convince your team to implement your idea, use Robert Cialdini’s pre-suasion technique and take care of your team’s mood before you go into the meeting”. The microchallenges will be adjusted to your goals, daily activities and personality. They will be delivered when you need them to minimize the learning time to zero. In order to keep you motivated, MovePhorward is gamified with points and include community with learning buddies.

What tips would you give our readers for improving these techniques? How can we use your app?

The traditional approach is to buy self-development books or go for a coaching session. Get inspired. However, if you care about the results and getting most out of your learnings, the way to go is to sign-up for MovePhorward. We’ll first diagnose your skill level through a questionnaire and set a goal. Then you’re ready to get your learnings and microchallenges at the frequency you want. Although MovePhorward is designed for company use, it is open to consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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