Business success, today, more often than not is a direct outcome of an organization’s ability to unlock human potential to define and deliver new outcomes. The fluid and uncertain outlook for businesses is here to stay, and navigating these uncertainties demands focused attention on the core driver of performance i.e. people. Strategic skill development for organizational success is closely linked to employee development at an individual, team and organizational level.
The ‘new normal’ gave rise to new business needs, which in turn demanded new-age skills – from remote team management, personal time management amidst blurring work-life priorities, agility and resilience. The rise of remote working makes it imperative for employees to go above and beyond to perform their jobs well. Training needs identification & training need analysis has been a core process in driving organizational learning, but with the current landscape, there’s a need to reboot the process in view of the agile business shifts.
Skills mapping is a systematic approach to measuring, identifying and developing valuable skills within an organization. Today, the core objective of skills-mapping is to cultivate the skills for future readiness and success.
The skill mapping process
1. Build a competency framework: Understanding what skills high performers apply on-the-job and to what degree, is imperative to understanding the skill gap. A competency framework with varied proficiency levels will emerge based on which employees can be assessed. Interviewing high performers and their managers on how they manage to excel at their jobs is a great way to start building a competency framework.
2. Skill-gap evaluation: Ask the relevant questions such as, “What are skills employees need to succeed in their current roles?”, and use tools such as interviews, surveys, manager feedback, performance review data, self-assessments to arrive at a skills inventory. Also, plan detailed business discussions to understand the organization’s strategic goals, and to question what future skills may be required to achieve these goals.
3. Communication & learning plan development: Communicating the skill gaps to employees must be done with the help of managers. Skill gaps should be intricately linked with the learning offerings so as to create effective and aligned ‘learning journeys’ for employees.
Skill mapping for the future
While traditional approaches to skill mapping continue to be relevant, keeping in mind the dynamic shifts in jobs and the potential of workers, some new paradigms in skill mapping are important to note.
• Re-alignment with employee capability: The past year required organizations to do ‘on-the-go’ workforce planning, with real-time decisions to redeploy employees based on the needs of the business. This is when employee capability, interest, and passion were re-examined. Organizations that align their employees interest/ capability will be able to quickly and effectively activate their workforce around emerging business priorities. Skill mapping exercises, now more than ever before, need to move beyond an objective exercise and it must factor in ‘employee choice and aspiration’.
• A ‘talent marketplace’ approach: Consumerization of skills is the way ahead to bridge the demand-supply gap on a near real-time basis. A talent marketplace approach can help align skill or job roles that are gaining prominence to employees. It can help improve awareness of workforce skills and capabilities that the organization needs. L&D should invest in designing and deploying such marketplaces to activate talent mobility.
• Self-driven employee: While L&D has traditionally been the custodian of skill-mapping, a number of external changes are also enabling employees to proactively take on the skill development initiatives. By recognizing and rewarding employees who’re identifying opportunities for growth and work towards building the relevant skills early-on, companies can stay ahead of the curve.
• Data-driven strategy: L&D must build an organization-wide, real time skill view. This will bind together and formalize all relevant skilling initiatives, enable better learning decisions, and build business alignment. Leadership must invest in the latest emerging technologies (including AI and big data based platforms) to make skills-planning more intuitive and real-time.
A well designed skill development map is one that balances the business needs, the L&D function, and the employee. There is a compelling need to go beyond mere traditional workforce planning methodologies like competency frameworks, static job descriptions, and linear career paths. The new era of skills mapping is a lot more about coaching and conversations at an employee, team, function and leadership level. Moving away from a top-down leadership mandate, to a more democratic and collaborative skill-building model is the way to continuously address skill-deficiency. Skill planning is an ongoing effort and calls for assessing and reassessing the skill milieu in alignment with the ever-changing business needs and employee aspirations.