4 tips from Home Depot to upgrade your tech skill development program

Agility in today’s tech world means upskilling and reskilling current employees, rather than relying on talent solely from hiring (a long, expensive and unreliable process). As George Boone, Senior Manager at The Home Depot, said at Pluralsight LIVE 2019, you have to be able to not just keep up with technology, but move people along with your company’s technology journey. 

Through partnering with Pluralsight, The Home Depot implemented OrangeMethod, its internal skill development program created to help employees reskill into new roles. It’s been enormously successful, with several employees growing from cashiers into salaried software developers. 

Want to see the kind of results Home Depot has been able to achieve? Take a leaf out of their book with these valuable tips. 

1. Commit fully

The success of your skill development program depends on everyone at your organization being fully committed to its objectives. That means creating a culture that not only encourages skill development, but expects it. Everyone from your CEO to your newest employee should be excited about growth.

Home Depot’s OrangeMethod generates amazing results because it’s a top C-level priority, which means the company doesn’t experience the kind of organizational silos that prevent many companies from achieving such impressive professional development.

2. Track progress

Take stock of your employees’ strengths and knowledge gaps and celebrate individual and collective growth. The more detailed your analytics, the better. You want to be able to identify what’s working and what isn’t as quickly as possible to ensure nobody is stagnating. When teams hit a roadblock, ask the right questions to identify the root of the issue, and be willing to have a “Nothing is sacred” approach like Home Depot—meaning you’re willing to abandon practices and systems that don’t work in the name of ones that do.

3. Empower employees by removing roadblocks

If an employee doesn’t have a laptop to learn on, The Home Depot gives them one. Support your employees’ tech skills development journey however you can, and set aside blocks of time for them to focus on it. You should also structure your teams in a way that’s conducive to growth, and establish a common language, strategy and measurement framework.

4. Involve the right people

Home Depot now has 30 full-time associates dedicated to teaching tech skills curriculum. By keeping things in-house, you can ensure everyone involved in skill development is clued in on the specifics of your company and aligning skill development to business objectives rather than getting a broad, unpersonalized education. (It can be smart to involve external talent at times, but it shouldn’t be your bread and butter.) Through smart recruiting and OrangeMethod, the Home Depot has been able to build a lot of the software that runs its operations in-house.

Effective management and a willingness to change means The Home Depot has been able to implement a successful, agile skill development strategy—and you can too. Your organization may not be on the same scale as Home Depot, but you can still benefit from creating a culture of ongoing learning and staying on top of skills gaps—then skilling up teams in technologies that will positively impact their productivity and success.