How to up-skill your skills-based approach

November 20, 2023

Finding, developing, and retaining top talent is a top-priority challenge for companies. In a recent study, 83% of HR professionals said they had difficulty finding suitable candidates for roles in the past 12 months.  

Skills as a key management focus has been garnering a lot of headlines, as business leaders address the realities of a rapidly changing marketplace. A recent Deloitte survey of 1,200 business executives across the globe revealed that 90% of business executives worldwide are actively experimenting with skills-based approaches across a wide range of workforce practices. The vast majority of those executives indicate that skills are important for the way they define work, deploy talent, manage careers, and value employees.

The heart of a skills-based people strategy

A skills-based people strategy places capabilities at the forefront of talent management. Instead of solely relying on traditional job titles or academic qualifications, leaders identify and nurture individual skills that align with organizational goals. By emphasizing skills, organizations can optimize talent allocation, develop robust learning and development programs, and create a culture of continuous improvement.

Leading companies recognize that people bring a diverse range of talents and experiences to the table which can contribute to the overall success of a company. They seek out hidden sources of talent within their organization to address emerging needs.  

Home is where the skill is

Rather than exclusively bringing in skills from the outside, giving existing employees the first shot at learning and applying new skills creates an atmosphere of personal growth and opportunity. Recent trends indicate that people increasingly tend to stay in their jobs due to a variety of factors, including a dramatic drop in job postings and a decline in pay growth. This creates an ideal opportunity to create new development opportunities for existing employees.  

Reskilling and reimagining jobs can ward off complacency among workers and inject excitement that aligns with the company’s mission and purpose. The more business leaders can identify what each employee’s most-satisfying skills are, the better they will match the right people with the opportunity to develop skills needed for the business to succeed.  

This also provides opportunities for individuals to serve in a variety of roles that may be new and energizing for them. As teams are assembled to innovate and solve new challenges, ensuring that team members have complementary values and needs is ideal to generate optimal results. According to Josh Bersin, “By unleashing the power of the human spirit, companies can go faster and farther than ever expected. “

Context is decisive

While the debate rages on about the right mix of in-person, hybrid, and remote work, flexible policies that cater to the work styles of people and teams taking on important skill-building work can make all the difference. Josh Bersin recommends an emphasis on culture over rules: “The credo of every leader should center on respect, flexibility, and fairness rather than inflexible processes and hard-and-fast rules.”

Creating the right balance of structure and autonomy, fun and focus, quiet and commotion for a team can make all the difference in creating an environment conducive to self-expression, learning, and productivity. Even the process of experimenting with different contextual factors and giving team members a say in decisions can elevate the sense of commitment and purpose of a group.  


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