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Your Path Towards a Skilled Workforce

In an era where digital initiatives emerge at the speed of light, it is not always easy to keep up the same pace within the entire organisation. Strategic success is determined by your ability to cultivate skills, behaviours and competencies across high-performing and motivate teams. A key differentiator to make this happen is embedded in the role of Human Resources and how they cultivate a Skilled Workforce.

Although multiple people approaches are feasible, they all have several steps in common. Start with creating a strategic workforce plan, translate it into an adequate sourcing model, back it up with continuous upskilling, and link it all too attainable performance goals and rewards. 

Authors: Dries Dewilde & Sonja Noben

Step 1: Create the company’s Strategic Workforce Plan

When a company has set its strategic targets, it should be mindful that these targets are only attainable if the workforce is up for the task. Targets should therefore match 100% with the company’s people.

Human Resources, along with the digital transformation office, are the drivers in this matching process. Together, they deliver the process and supporting tools.

Strategic targets are translated into big themes, epics, programs, and projects. Each of them needs skilled people in different parts of the organisation. Depending on all these initiatives’ integrated plans, each department identifies its short and long-term people needs. Which roles need to available? As of when? For how long? What skills and competencies are crucial?

The first outcome of such an exercise is an integrated view of the demand for people. This demand then gets matched with the available staff: the people supply.

Matching not only happens on the number of people but also on roles, functions, skills and competencies. Typical tools here are skills matrices and maturity assessments, both supporting this exercise.

This matching process’s outcome is a company-wide fit-gap analysis, showing the company’s lacking needs set out on a timeline aligned with the strategic targets.

Step 2: Translate the Strategic Workforce Plan into an adequate Sourcing approach

The gap identified in the Strategic Workforce Plan can be measured on different axes:

  1. What is the size of the gap for different roles?
  2. What is the duration of the gap?
  3. Is the gap pertaining, or is it only a temporary issue in the course of the plan?
  4. Is the missing role considered to be crucial to the company’s business or not?
  5. Are roles sufficiently available but lacking the necessary maturity?
  6. Is a particular role too much available vis-à-vis the company’s needs?

Human Resources is at the heart of this major step. The identified gap is the foundation for its activities supporting the company’s strategic targets.

All these parameters affect the type of sourcing a company may need. Lacking crucial long-term roles might require the hiring of new internal people, for instance, through traineeships. Lacking skills or maturity in specific roles might require upskilling in all its forms. An abundance of people in certain roles might require re-orientation and reskilling towards identified gaps. Lacking roles for only a limited time or roles that are not considered crucial to the company might require new external partnerships.

Step 3: Invest in Upskilling and Reskilling People

The setup of external partnerships is mainly the role of Procurement. Human Resources should drive the other sourcing types: hiring, upskilling and reskilling.

It is each individual’s role to ensure they have the skills and competencies to execute their tasks. It is the role of Human Resources to create an environment in which this can happen.

Whatever the sourcing type, there is one common denominator: training, coaching and learning. Dries Dewilde

The gap-analysis gives an overview of where and on which topics the company needs to invest in training, coaching and learning. It allows Human Resources to look into the most prominent gaps in the different departments and identify the most suitable investments that deliver the biggest investment return.

A blended learning approach based on different types of learning has the most effect. Classroom training, online training, videos, podcasts and snackable videos are merely the tip of the iceberg of the possibilities which exist. All should be embedded in a Digital Academy where each individual has received a well-defined learning trajectory. Such an approach allows for each individual to define their own pace and possibilities.

Step 4: Motivate with Performance Management and Rewarding

Finally, the individual journeys of each employee must all lead to the expected target, i.e. reaching the strategic goals as they have been defined by top management. A translation of these strategic targets into personal objectives and team objectives is required to transform successfully. The objectives might be learning goals or objectives where learning is a means to reach the objective (process objectives versus outcome objectives).

A process where continuous feedback is embedded into the company values will help the individuals and the teams understand the expectations better and adjust where and when needed. Also, intermediate skills matrix reviews and maturity assessment checks translated into the necessary dashboards can steer toward the common goal.

Reward Process

Rewarding (in all its forms) is an integral part of Performance Management and can not be forgotten. Again, Human Resources has a major role to play within this recurring process. However, do not forget applause or positive feedback might be worth ten times more than a (financial) bonus or salary raise.

Final Thoughts

The 4-step approach is a continuous spiral. From target setting and gap identification to solutions building, execution, and evaluation. Running this company-wide spiral adequately will eliminate the risk of an organisation that operates at different paces.

Human Resources is crucial in this repetitive cycle. We are available to support both the HR department and the leadership teams in the company’s Digital Transformations. Feel free to reach out to us and make this a success in your company.

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