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Talent transformation: Upskilling your tech workforce

March 21, 2023

Successful digital transformation relies on successful talent transformation. You need the right people with the right skills to meet your business goals. But how do you get there?

To achieve full-scale transformation and create a strong talent pipeline, you need buy-in from teams at all levels of your organization. Drew Firment, Pluralsight’s Chief Cloud Strategist, shares tips on what you need to consider when developing your talent strategy.

What does talent transformation mean?

Talent transformation means upskilling your people and developing their skills so they can take on new responsibilities, keep up with advancing tech, build better products, and drive other strategic initiatives. Talent transformation is critical to staying competitive in a fast-changing industry and attracting and retaining top talent.

What is a talent pipeline?

A talent pipeline is a pool of qualified internal and/or external candidates who are ready to step into open roles in your organization. A strong talent pipeline gives you a group of candidates to draw from and quickly fill role and skills gaps.

What are the benefits of talent transformation?

Our 2023 State of Upskilling report found that the majority of technologists don’t feel completely confident in all major tech skill areas, including cybersecurity, cloud, data science, and software development. Organizations face a tech talent shortage—they don’t have enough people with the right technical skills.

But finding technologists with the skills you need in the marketplace can be costly and time-consuming. Rather than waiting to find the perfect unicorn outside your org, you can develop them from within, effectively allowing you to deliver to market faster and advance ahead of the competition.

Find out how you can build a strong talent pipeline with a talent mobility strategy.

How should program leaders think about talent transformation?

There are three main teams, or organizational layers, involved in talent transformation: the executive team, the program team, and the implementation team. The executive team establishes the why and where, the program team determines the how and when, and the implementation team gets the work done. They each play an important part, with the program team playing the crucial role of translating executive intent into a plan that delivers business outcomes. 

The program team often consists of a combination of tech managers and HR/L&D leaders who are responsible for implementing new technology, developing the associated skills, managing the budget, and proving ROI. To do that, they need buy-in from both the executive team and the implementation teams.

What do program leaders need from executives?

The executive team prioritizes business outcomes and expected returns on investments. CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, and other executive roles develop the roadmaps to ensure their organization makes strategic technology investments aligned to their business goals. By chartering a team to deliver on a roadmap initiative, the executives empower the program team with decision and budget authority.

How do you determine key outcomes for talent transformation?

As a program leader, you need to talk with the executive team to understand what they want to achieve through talent transformation. Most often the business goals are tied to greater innovation, faster speed to market, or digital transformation.  

To guide your talent management strategy, ask your executive team these questions: 

  • What are the key outcomes you want to achieve? How do they fit into the larger organizational strategy?

  • What metrics will you use to determine ROI? How often will you review them?

  • Where are our current skill gaps?

  • How strong is our tech talent pipeline?

How can program leaders support implementation teams?

Once you understand the executive team’s goals, consider the implementation teams. These are the people who will actually be doing the work—the ones who will need to learn new skills, take courses, earn certifications, and get hands-on experience. They’re the ones who ultimately build and support your organization’s products and services—and overall success.

You need to engage implementation teams before you can even think of achieving the executive team’s key outcomes. Consider these questions to secure the implementation teams’ buy in:

What tech skills do technologists need to learn?

75% of leaders are building new products and features in the cloud, but only 8% of technologists have extensive experience working with cloud-related tools. If your teams don’t have the experience required to work with new technologies or complete digital transformation projects, identify the skills they need to learn to fill those gaps.

How will you support their learning journey?

Talent transformation is about more than upskilling opportunities. It’s an organization-wide cultural shift that makes learning and development a strategic business priority. 

But when technologists’ biggest barrier to upskilling is being too busy, how will you support their journey and help them find time to learn? Consider implementing things like dedicated learning hours and a Technology Center of Excellence.

What resources do they need to learn effectively?

In our 2023 State of Upskilling report, technologists said that hands-on labs and sandboxes are the most effective learning option for applying new skills on the job. For talent transformation that sticks, ask your teams how they prefer to learn and what they need to feel confident in their newfound skills.

How will employees benefit from talent transformation?

Last, but certainly not least, make sure employees know how upskilling will personally benefit them. In addition to growing their personal skill set, will they gain career advancement or talent mobility opportunities? Will they have the chance to work on new projects or take on new challenges? Outline the benefits, and they’ll be more likely to take advantage of any upskilling opportunities you provide.

The key to transforming your workforce

Your organization needs the right tech skills to fully harness the power of a digital transformation. Aligning technologists’ skill development with executives’ desired business outcomes is key to building a tech talent pipeline, securing ROI, and transforming your organization from top to bottom.

Ready to start your organization’s talent transformation? Pluralsight can help.