Technology Mapping skills: Turning skills into gold for employees

Mapping skills: Turning skills into gold for employees


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I used to stand in front of a room and teach in person. It was the foundation upon which academia was built. We’re all encouraged to get a four-year college degree, sit in a classroom and learn, and then we’re all omniscient and ready to take on the world – right?

Not exactly. Studies show that while a skill used to last 15 to 20 years, the shelf life of each skill is now only 3 to 5 years. The one-size-fits-all approach to learning will no longer cut it, even if the system we grew up in tells us otherwise.

Learning cannot be a one-off. It should happen in the course of our life. This requires a new level of agility to learn, unlearn and relearn multiple times throughout our career, and an entirely new business model for companies.

The mindset change: from static learning to dynamic growth

The processes and methodology underlying human capital management, as well as the assumptions behind it, namely that people live in a static hierarchy and have defined roles, report to one person and do one type of work throughout their careers, are broken . The world of work has changed dramatically and we can no longer live in an old paradigm.


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We also know that employees don’t stand still or stay put; their role in an organization is constantly changing, given their personal and professional experiences along the way. Furthermore, all employees are able to contribute to their company in a larger and broader way.

Companies don’t stand still, and the market doesn’t stand still – which is why jobs shouldn’t stand still. If leaders accept this new reality and believe in making people more dynamic, they will reap the benefits of better productivity, efficiency and employee experiences.

Research shows that internal talent mobility programs have a positive effect on employee retention, with a 60% discount attrition when a talent marketplace is used by employees.

This means that we need to break our old assumptions and accept learning and development with a focus on skills.

Skills are the foundation for learning in the 21st century

Companies moving from a static job architecture to a skills-based architecture can understand the skills needed to drive a business strategy forward and identify opportunities to grow and develop talent. Unfortunately, many do not have the skills, strategy or technology to do this.

Companies struggle with the holistic view of their skills supply chain (the skills they have and the skills they need) and many lack the technology to accelerate the process of surfacing skills and providing training and learning opportunities. automate. Companies that adopt a skills-based business model, supported by technology, can dramatically increase their ability to manage skills supply and demand. Ultimately, this makes organizations enormously more productive.

This is where mapping skills and intelligence come into play.

Skills: Workforce gold

Basically, skills mapping is matching skills with roles, titles, and the type of work people do to find, hire, and grow talent. Skills mapping is even more powerful when supported by artificial intelligence (AI) to map people with the right skills at the right time to the right projects and learning opportunities (both on the job and online courses). This also helps ensure that talent decisions are based on data and insights, not biases or assumptions.

Another way to think about skills mapping is to think about skills like workforce gold and technology like hydraulics. Right now, companies are mining for gold (skills) through various systems or manually using spreadsheets and email, making data and insights hard to come by. Applying hydraulics (technology) accelerates our ability to find and match skills, ultimately pointing people to the right job and training opportunities to grow themselves and the business.

Skills mapping is a complex shift to accept, but once understood it will be a huge improvement for all organizations. It will help employees continue to learn and grow while helping companies execute on their strategy.

Understanding the value of skill mapping and skill intelligence

Let’s use the analogy of matching skills and intelligence for a mathematical equation. In algebra we try to solve for X – or the common denominator. In orbit, we don’t have a common denominator. We have created a general job description that we know cannot live on or capture everything a person does.

If we use the X to represent a skill and we can associate intelligence with that skill, we can become much more focused and specific. We can now, down to a common denominator (the skill), make a more personalized and tailored offer to an employee and know exactly what work to point them to.

This is groundbreaking for leaders at every level. From a C-suite perspective, developing a scalable skills strategy will help employees evolve at the pace of the business while gathering critical data and insights that support workforce planning. HR teams can map intelligent skills to foster a culture of continuous learning, where employees have the right resources at the right time. Managers can better understand their team’s skills to provide better coaching, and employees get the personalized learning opportunities they need to be successful.

Skills are the new currency

Most employees today do not stay in a position for more than 3 to 5 years, often because they crave new learning opportunities. At the same time, many organizations are grappling with a talent gap, either because of the massive layoffs or the recession. They know they must either build capabilities internally through upskilling or reskilling, or find new talent in the open market.

These factors make skills the new currency. It is critical to understand who our employees are and give them clear growth paths to contribute. When leaders maximize the investment they make in employees, employees maximize their investment in the company in return.

To succeed in this new normal, companies must have equal pillars of people, process and technology. As leaders, we need to deviate from the standard way of working – it may be inconvenient, but it’s worth it.

When skills are mapped, the business results are huge. Pathways become more complex and personal, employees get the chance to explore different careers at one organization, and ultimately the company continues to thrive.

Leaders, it’s time for you to decide: do you want to stay with the status quo or do you want to evolve to meet the needs of your employees and your business? The choice is yours.

Kelley Steven-Waiss is the chief transformation officer at ServiceNow.

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