Technology, and the world at large, is changing so fast that traditional methods of hiring and training are no longer enough. One person, or one group, can’t shoulder the responsibility for the skill set of the organization. Managing talent and skills has become a collaborative effort with both Board and C-suite giving it priority focus.
When the entire people management system of a company is based on skills, leaders come together to build a culture of continuous learning and growth. The employee experience is a priority—and, as a result, employee engagement increases, attrition decreases and business results rise.
As the C-suite aligns the entire org around skill development, there are three critical best practices to follow: make it personal, be transparent and select the right partners.
Make it personal
Turn up the transparency
It’s time to stop operating in the dark. Organizations need to place skills at the center of their people strategy, and aim for deep, real-time visibility of the skills position across the enterprise.
We’re getting better at telling employees they need to grow their skills. Where many companies still need to improve is understanding which skills employees need to grow, and then transparently sharing this with their employees. This seems basic, but it’s true. Many organizations aren’t clear about the skills they need to meet their business objectives or the top skill domains they need to point people towards. Even when they do know, that knowledge is not filtering down to the workforce.
Move to a new way of thinking. Based on your business objectives, what are the skills that you need now, and in the future? What skills do you need to buy (recruit), and what skills do you need to build (develop/train)? How do you signal to employees the skills your business and the market require? And then how do you communicate to employees whether the skills they have now are growing, maintaining or declining?
If you think it’s counter-productive to tell employees they’re in a role that’s declining in demand, you’re not the only one. Many companies worry that it will harm engagement or that people will quit. What we found at IBM was exactly the opposite. Providing employees real-time transparency into how their skills compare to market and business demand allows employees to know where they stand and gives them the power to do something about it. Reinforce this with a robust ecosystem of personalized skill- and career-building opportunities and a positive culture of continual growth, and you have the magic formula for building a workforce that is ready for the future.
Partner internally and externally
Gone are the days when any one company had all the answers. Gone, too, is the ability to solve the skills challenge without broader internal and external partnerships. To remain competitive, companies must adopt new ways of working, which includes partnering across the organization. How many companies still have a talent acquisition organization, a talent development organization, a learning organization, and a compensation organization—all of which operate in silos? With skills at the center of your people strategy, these organizations must work together, sharing data, resources, and expertise.
In addition, organizations must look externally for partnerships. Need to get your role and skill taxonomy in order? Don’t try to create a solution yourself; buy it from the experts. Need to provide learning content on a topic that is not in your area of expertise? Buy it, too! Speed is essential. For the areas where you are an expert, do it yourself. For the areas where you are not, find a partner who can do it better, faster and probably cheaper than you can.
Building robust partnerships, both outside and inside your company, is vital. To get the most from your partnerships, adopt an open, cloud-based technology architecture that can plug and play together, giving you the ecosystem you need to meet the challenges of today—and tomorrow.
There’s no going back
The C-suite knows the status quo is no longer an option. Now is the time to ensure your company understands the skills you have and the skills you need, and has a plan for closing the gaps and continually coaching employees toward the future. Creating this path for skill development will keep your employees building the talent you need to be successful in our ever-changing world.
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