Tools & Tips

Upskilling – Time to shift the paradigm : focus on the individual

Why aren’t companies making progress with upskilling? Because they’re focusing on the organization rather than the individual. Here’s how to change that.

Time to Shift the Paradigm

If the benefits of upskilling are so obvious, why aren’t most companies making progress? The problem is the paradigm. For too long, upskilling has focused on the company, not the individual.

The old models of work typically centered on the company. Leaders relied on a “command and control” management style, forcing employees into “one size fits all” training programs. Companies wanted to dictate when, how, and what people learned and tried to tie a predictable return on investment (ROI) calculation based primarily on employee participation. Decades of research have shown how ineffective this approach has been.

These days, leading analysts like Deloitte’s Center for the Edge are calling for a new model of work that puts individuals at the center. As artificial intelligence and machine learning make uniquely human capabilities more valuable, companies can no longer treat people like interchangeable parts. Workers thrive with variety, fluidity, and autonomy.

Focusing on individuals will transform upskilling efforts. Employees can direct their own development, recognizing and addressing personal skill gaps. Employers can get real-time data and insights about people’s skills and can make it easy for people to find projects and positions that match emerging skills, rewarding the workers who learn and grow within the company. In this paradigm, people can easily see the link between their learning and the skills they are building for their careers creating a more engaged, purposeful, and impactful workforce.

Five Changes to Make in Your Organization

Alright, let’s get into the details. What specific shifts will support an upskilling strategy focused on individuals? To get started, try these five adjustments in the following key areas:

1. Recruiting: From External Talent to Internal Talent

External hires are costly and risky. But internal mobility can improve retention and accelerate the learning process. Deloitte found that 76% of top talent acquisition teams look to hire internally, compared to just 17% of low-performing teams.

2. Capacities: From Static Competencies to Dynamic Skills

Many people don’t know the difference between competencies and skills. Competencies usually include attitudes and behaviors. Skills, on the other hand, reflect transferrable expertise. Competency models were designed to keep people in one role, but shifting to a skills strategy can enable much greater flexibility for individuals and organizations.

3. Performance Management: From Top-Down Evaluation to Employee Experience Feedback

Managers are key to helping their employees build skills and progress in their careers. This all starts with having a career conversation. In addition, when employees know what’s expected of them, when they can use their strengths every day at work, and when they are recognized and rewarded for the great work they do, it’s an all-around win. Finally, managers should help employees find projects and stretch assignments so people can actually apply the skills they’ve learned. This may even lead to a completely new role inside the company. The role of managers in upskilling the workforce is to focus on being “career coaches” and helping people grow and thrive in the company. Yet, many managers are not tuned in to their team’s development. To compensate, I recommend asking for feedback on employees’ experiences. Do they have clear expectations? Are they using their strengths and earning recognition? Can they find opportunities to grow?

4. L&D: From One Size Fits All Training to a Continuous Skill Strategy

For generations, companies trained large groups on discrete objectives. Teams gathered to learn a management technique or the latest software program. But this approach could never keep pace with digital disruption. Now top firms like Unilever are using digital tools to create a lifelong learning ecosystem. Workers are always exploring and building the emerging skills that they’ll need for their unique journeys.

5. Career Development: From High-Potential Programs to Building Skills for Everyone

In the days of pricey in-person training, many employers treated career development as a perk for “high-potential” employees. This exclusionary approach had predictable downsides, making participants more entitled and alienating those who didn’t get invited. As online platforms drive down the cost of upskilling at scale, it’s time to get more inclusive. Looking for a model? One major bank pioneered a genius “funnel” approach that lets people prove their own potential.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Effective Upskilling Focuses on the Individual – Degreed Blog

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