The world is changing constantly and so are the skills required by an organization’s workforce. Today, we may not know about half the skills we need by 2020 to achieve high performance or be fully employable at the workplace.
New research and constant automation has led to an increase in structure less thinking which creates cognitive dissonance. And although divergent thinking can result in some great insights, you would not want employees to complain about what skills the workforce lacks in general.
For most organizations, learning effectiveness measurements such as retention, application of learning and business impact continue to be constant imperatives.
Often, if not always, companies rush their learning and development initiatives which create lapses in planning effective learning journeys of their employees.
A prime component of a well-executed learning program is increased awareness of potential skills. It is a fundamental requirement for kickstarting an effective learning journey.
By including skills which are either not learned before or those skills to which the workforce is oblivious to, you prepare yourself for future challenges.
For example, your sales force or customer service team might require specific soft skills which they may not be aware about. Imagine a situation where a customer visits your branch office. Your employees at the branch may be oblivious to the importance of mindfulness and that may hamper their ability to greet every walk-in customer.
Lack of self-awareness or mindfulness could potentially result in a poor customer service score for that branch.
It may not be possible to be aware of every skill required, but companies can try various approaches for increasing skill awareness.
We have noted five easy steps that any organization can take to create awareness for new skill requirements with ease. This approach to learning could create stronger and more effective learning pathways for your employees.
Step 1: Skill awareness empowers experimentation
Curiosity and constant application of experimental learning brings up many possibilities for potential improvements. When you challenge your employees’ know-how with tests and analyze them for their knowledge needs, these skill gaps reveal themselves through the scenarios you emulate. This leads to increased awareness of the skills that your team needs.
Step 2: Case study your way to skill awareness
Case studies are a great way to get to know how different organizations have approached the problems they have faced and solved through increased awareness of skills that were needed to turn the opportunity into a positive business impact.
Step 3: Make your employees culturally aware
Your company’s culture by itself can have the potential to make an employee learn faster and more efficiently. For example, if a well inducted employee is faced with a certain difficulty in handling a client, he/she can rely on the knowhow of the company’s culture to overcome this problem. Thus, through increased awareness of cultural proceedings, your employee identifies these openings and can more easily be aware of critical skills required at various instances in both his / her employee journey as well as the customer journey.
Step 4: Talk to an expert
Speak to as many domain experts you can to be more aware of recent changes in skills development and what the industry needs. Mobilize your networks to understand the necessity of new or emerging skills. In today’s age of decreasing shelf-life of skills, having a network of experts across multiple domains minimizes your chance of missing out on critical new-age skills that your workforce may require.
Step 5: Reflect as much as you can
In our day-to-day hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get carried away and lose sight of perspective. Taking a step back once in a while to reflect on the past and future lends critical perspective that can help you capture skills hitherto not in your “cognitive radar”.
Notably skill development, digital skills and new forms of learning such as microlearning, gamified learning are on everyone’s consideration list. In the ever-growing list of options, it can get quite “noisy” to identify what is required by your workforce and your organization.
The above steps can help you reduce the risk of missing out or not being aware of critical competencies that your workforce ought to possess. They can also help you weed out non-critical or unnecessary skills that may appear good to have, but ultimately not be as useful to your business as you initially perceived.