Article: Reskilling for a better tomorrow


Reskilling for a better tomorrow

With the advent of newer technologies, comes the need for modern professionals to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant. In this interview with People Matters, Kameshwari Rao shares her insights on how organizations can support their employees in doing that.
Reskilling for a better tomorrow

The constantly changing nature of workforce today is impacting the employment landscape in various ways. There is a need for employees to be open to perform beyond their defined job profiles, and to do that, they must up-skill themselves by improving their problem-solving and multi-tasking abilities. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Kameshwari Rao - Vice President, People Strategy at Sapient India discussed how organizations and HR leaders need to drive these upskilling initiatives at their workplaces.  

How can TA leaders assess for skill sets like learnability, dealing with complexity and collaboration at the time of hiring? 

Learnability is a key skill set that TA leaders today look for in the workforce. With technology becoming obsolete at such a rapid pace, people are expected to learn, unlearn and relearn on a constant basis. the list of important skills includes dealing with complexity, collaboration, breaking down silos and co-creation in addition to learning newer technologies on a constant basis.

With the growing millennial workforce, opportunities for remote work, and ability to hire candidates from all over the world, skills assessment can level the playing field for all types of applicants. Skills assessment can make the job of a hiring manager much easier by providing “knock out” questions that instantly disqualify candidates. Additionally, it could showcase the exemplary knowledge of the top candidates. A quantitative pre-hire assessment provides candidates with an opportunity to shine in a way that may not come across in an interview or resume.

If the position for which one is hiring doesn’t have a clear assessment component, designing a simulation of the job, which requires skills like learnability, dealing with complexity and collaboration, can act as a good alternative.  Organizations also often administer personality tests, which can help bring out these skills. These help determine whether a person is a good fit for a team and if he/she would be able to adapt to the culture of the organization. Though these tests may not determine whether someone is technically qualified, they can assess the gaps that may be present during an interview process where candidates feel the pressure to perform or act in a certain way.

How can an organization create 'polyglots' out of its experienced employees?

Businesses struggle to deal with the newly empowered consumer who expects businesses to deliver with agility and speed by being digital at the core. They face a new set of digital first competitors who no longer belong to their own categories. In the wake of such a dynamic environment, organizations are seeking talent that doesn’t subscribe to the old ways of working of traditional IT. Polyglots have an in-depth understanding of the technology ecosystem, which makes them tech agnostic, navigate ambiguous situations and collaborate with multiple teams to achieve a common objective. 

Nurturing and developing polyglots requires a cultural shift in most organizations. Agility and co-creation are attributes that clients value dearly. These traits can be effectively displayed if organizations break down functional boundaries, create a shared language and incentive that allow diverse teams to interact with one another. Polyglots, are known to lead the way when it comes to breaking silos. Their ability to navigate ambiguous situations and collaborating with multiple teams helps them not only be technology experts, but bring together disparate groups for a common objective.

They have a problem-solving mind-set and do not stick to the traditional but disruptive ways of working. At Sapient India, we strongly advocate and believe in “Own your own growth”. It’s a tenet that has been part of the organizational culture, and there is no better time than the present when these are being re-emphasized.

An important part of L&D for organizations is, being able to predict which technology would be relevant in the coming months and years, and which would become obsolete, so that the training modules are designed accordingly. How do the L&D leaders build that muscle?

At Sapient, our focus is on providing upskilling opportunities to employee across three core areas of craft, business, and leadership. These opportunities are presented as a combination of classroom, online and on-the-job training. In addition, there is a tremendous focus on developing the role of a manager as a coach, who can not only coach his/her people directly, but can also guide them to access and learn from the available resources that the organization provides.

We have over the past several years, been at the start of the ‘S’ cure on the solutions that clients need to evolve and change. This requires us to build the muscle of being able to anticipate and build our talent capabilities in this direction as well. There are a couple of key attributes that enable this – one being to develop a good understanding of the industry we operate in and the specific work that we do for our clients. Secondly, build relationships with our key stakeholders that help in strong partnership with them. This, in turn, helps us build programs and interventions that are continuously evolving & changing as the business changes. Another aspect that also works is being a part of client conversations & understanding their vision for their own future. 

It is important that L&D does not operate in its own domain or functional silo, but builds perspective and depth in several different areas.

Change management is an integral part of any organization's transformative journey to digital. How does the HR team align itself with the business leaders, in achieving that?  

The continued evolution of digital capabilities is pushing businesses to rethink their fundamental views on customers, competitors, products, and partners. Organizations across the globe are now attempting to become digital at their core. 

To survive and thrive in this era of digital disruption, organizations acknowledge that an internal culture which engenders innovation and adaptability is no longer a want, but a necessity. Although technology is the lead player, it is ultimately people who determine the success of the business, and this is why HR continues to play a critical role. It has become an imperative that HR can understand the language of technology and is able to leverage the range of digital technologies for furthering the people agenda in the organization. The use of social media to drive engagement, the use of AI and machine learning to improve predictability and analytics and many other such examples are all the need of the hour in this journey. Once HR is lockstep with business in both language and leverage and has transformed itself to make digital the way of working, the ability to align with business is no longer an issue.

Digital transformation offers HR an exclusive opportunity to enhance employee happiness, engagement, and organizational culture in new and exciting ways and we should be at the forefront of this change and transformation both internally and externally.

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Topics: Skilling, Learning & Development

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