Talking about “training” is pretty much standard operating procedure in the tech industry. But training doesn’t go far enough when it comes to upskilling technology teams—and that’s a big problem.
You need to shift conversations toward tech skill development and focus on skill initiatives that are workforce driven, collaborative, ongoing and ultimately more creative.
1. Shift from top-down training to employee- and-objective-driven skill development
The interest in skill development in service of career growth continues to rise among tech employees. More and more people are pressuring executives and businesses to provide them with opportunities to acquire new skills on the job. They embrace the perspective of constant improvement and understand that tech skill development never ends.
It’s essential that C-suite executives champion skill development and understand which skills their people want to gain. What do they need to be effective today? Which skills will they need tomorrow?
Filling the skills gap really comes down to a) understanding the strategy of your organization, b) identifying which skills your people have and c) identifying the skills your people need (and want) to meet company goals. As leaders, it’s on us to implement the right types of programs and platforms to fill gaps and make sure people are quickly building the right skills.
In short: How are you helping people uplevel their knowledge to unleash their full potential?
KEY TAKEAWAY: In my experience, these efforts cannot be solely top-down. Listening to your people and surfacing their suggestions results in more interest and higher levels of engagement. When you can tap into existing desires in a way that aligns with business objectives, you can create a solution where everyone wins and employees understand the “why” behind what they’re learning.
4. Shift from finite thinking to taking the moonshots
I’m often inspired by an idea from Simon Sinek’s book The Infinite Game. He writes about the difference between an infinite mindset and a finite mindset. In business, we sometimes get stuck on doing X to achieve Y results. That’s a finite mindset. The rules are clear, the objectives defined. An infinite mindset acknowledges the open-endedness that exists in much of business. The real challenge isn’t winning the game, it’s to continue playing.
When you realize how much the world of work constantly evolves, especially with a knowledge workforce, you understand the importance of an infinite mindset around constantly giving your people access to knowledge. It will have a positive impact on your business, however imperfectly you can measure it.
Adopting the infinite mindset is perhaps the biggest shift of all. It can be terrifying to recognize that your plans may not happen when you think they will or that you’ll accomplish goals you can’t yet imagine. You should see the learning process as more of a hypothesis to be tested.
Moonshots change an organization’s direction, mold the expectations of employees and customers and sometimes uncover new lines of business. They aren’t supposed to “work.” You’d never optimize for them because the economics don’t line up. But in retrospect, they look genius.
KEY TAKEAWAY: How do you balance optimization with the need for creativity, innovation and room for growth and improvement? Remember that data is retroactive. You use it to make informed decisions. But you shouldn’t follow the data just for the sake of saying you did. Data helps us predict the future, but it doesn’t define it.
Shifting from “training” to technology skill development is critical for organizations to thrive as the pace of change accelerates. But for a skills strategy to be productive, it can’t be top-down. It should align employee career growth with key business objectives. It needs long-term championing throughout your org. And though identifying success might not be a perfect science, that can’t discourage your efforts.
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