The workplace of today is evolving at an unprecedented rate, and in order to stay competitive, companies, leaders, managers and employees need to evolve, as well. As such, the need for reskilling and upskilling has never been more in demand.

Forbes identified upskilling and reskilling as an emerging human resources (HR) trend for 2022 to maximize value, especially as a focus on skills-based hiring increases in the midst of The Great Resignation. So, what’s at risk if you don’t focus on skills? As it turns out, a lot: Not only will organizations fall behind in meeting future business needs, their employees may determine another company is a better fit and leave for greener pastures.

Fairness and equity are paramount for employees, as suggested by Gartner HR research. They crave transparency, support and feeling considered for advancement. To address these needs, companies can clarify current and future skills required for roles, provide training to support development, and empower managers to have ongoing conversations about how employees might grow at the organization.

In such an environment, it’s not sufficient to merely keep up through building traditional skills for your team. If keeping up leaves you behind, how do you stay ahead? Identifying and bridging emerging skills gaps on your team is a great place to start.

The Approach

In order to address key skills gaps, consider the following steps:

  1. Identify current and emerging skills.
  2. Host skills conversations.
  3. Create a skills map.
  4. Develop and implement a plan.

With this roadmap in hand, you’ll be positioned to better support your team, and ultimately your organization.

Identify Current and Emerging Skills

As a manager, you already know the skills needed for current success across various roles on your team. If you haven’t yet documented those, take that step first.

Next up, dig into your trade research and learn about emerging trends in your field. Take those trends into consideration, and align them to your company’s goals. Which ones will support your organization reaching its goals? Add those to your team’s skills roster.

Host Skills Conversations  

Once you have articulated the current and future skills needed for success, talk to your team. Share the skills roster, discuss the skills evolution of the team needed to get ahead of emerging trends, and ask exploratory questions to gauge capability and interest.

Consider asking the following questions in these conversations.

Skill-based questions:

  • Which skills do you use regularly in your work?
  • Where do you see your greatest strengths?
  • If you were to wave a magic wand and immediately become advanced in one skill, which one would make the biggest difference in your day-to-day work?

Interest-based questions:

  • Which part(s) of your role excite you?
  • Which part(s) of your role exhaust you?
  • If you were to wave a magic wand and immediately become advanced in one skill, which one would help your future professional growth the most?

Create a Skills Map

As the leader of your team, you must have insight into your team’s capabilities across known skills needed for success. Use this information and what you gleaned from the above conversations to create a skills map for your team.

Unsure what a skills map might look like? Consider the following:

 

As you complete this skills map, keep in mind the following:

  • Your company’s competency model: What skills are expected of all team members?
  • Skills for success in the current environment (i.e., hybrid work, remote productivity, etc.)
  • Single points of failure: Where might additional redundancy be needed to avoid these?
  • Hiring/headcount plans: How might gaps be filled through hiring, when appropriate?

Develop and Implement a Plan

Work with your HR department to create a plan to fill these gaps. Then, you can work to identify existing trainings, create customized learning plans, create on-the-job learning opportunities and more. Don’t forget to connect with your HR business partners if your company employs this model. They will be a great support in furthering this conversation towards succession planning. Once skills gaps have been closed, you’ll want to determine critical positions and build a pipeline of talent on your existing team to take on these roles in the future.

Conclusion

Once you’ve kicked off skills conversations, know that this is just the beginning. Depending on the maturity of your team and organization, you should be having formal skills conversations annually, at a minimum, and quarterly if your team and/or company are in high-growth.

The most successful leaders will incorporate skills into conversations regularly. To do so, practice identifying skills in action and providing real-time feedback to your team to reinforce or redirect behaviors.

Whether you take action or not, the future is here. How will you prepare your team for success?

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