The Pivotal Role Skills Mapping Plays in Creating Agile Organizations
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The Pivotal Role Skills Mapping Plays in Creating More Agile Organizations

  • 5 Min Read

Two sides to the skills mapping story come together when organizations decide to make a transformational shift.

To prepare for the modern world of business, organizations need to become increasingly agile to effectively adapt to quickly changing business conditions and embrace the demands of a more dynamic workforce. To that end, skills mapping can play a pivotal role.

According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, while three out of five executives say building the organization of the future is very important, only 11% say they have a clear understanding of how to go about it. Furthermore, only 14% of executives believe that the traditional organizational model—hierarchical structures with job levels based on specific expertise—is effective. Rather, the future is around more agile networks of teams where individuals come together, share information, collaborate to solve a problem, and move from team to team depending on what needs doing.

Skills (or talent) mapping is a critical component of an agile organization. By linking talent management with strategic workforce planning, organizations can assess the current performance of employees to identify those that have high potential and match the skills that are available today to the skills and qualities that are needed to grow the business tomorrow. They can also quickly and easily form, disband, and reform teams to address the most pressing business challenges. The ability to move between teams without risk is a critical attribute of high-performing companies.

So, how do you go about realizing greater agility through your own skill map? Well, there are two sides to the skills mapping story.

  1.  The skills needed approach
    This approach creates standards for jobs and provides employees with a goal (or goals) to work toward to advance their career.
  2.  The skills achieved approach
    With this approach, organizations identify their subject matter experts (SMEs) and use that knowledge to put together dynamic teams on the fly with skills needed for a specific project. Individuals then know whom to get in touch with when they have questions about a specific subject.

The two sides of the skills mapping story come together when an organization decides to make a transformational shift (big or small). It is imperative at this time that the business knows what skills their workforce has and what skills may be missing to support and execute that shift. So, how does one go about creating a skills map? And when you have it, how do you use it?

Plan for both individual analysis and organizational analysis

In an individual analysis, the business identifies the skills required for roles within the organization as it exists today. For instance, this might mean assessing the specific skills required for a role against the actual skills of the individual serving in that role. In an organizational analysis, the business outlines and plans for the skills that will be needed for future projects or opportunities.

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Identify organizational skills of high importance

These are critically important skills that all employees should embody. This might mean having excellent transformational leadership skills or good peer-to-peer feedback skills. While not every employee is going to be a transformational leader, employees should know that transformational leadership is important to the organization and understand what that means to them in their daily work life.

Assess the skills currently in place

You can use a variety of methods to assess the skills currently in place in your organization, including surveys, interviews, employee self-assessment, and manager feedback. Collecting this information may seem like a big task at the outset, but once it is done all you’ll have to do is add to it and keep it up to date. It is important to communicate throughout this process so employees know that the goal is not to end their job, but rather to help them develop the skills they need to grow in their role and their career. Clearly explain in your communications why this process is so important to the organization and to the individual employee.

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Use the data

The data you capture from this exercise will allow you to visualize trends across your organization, forecast hiring, and build learning strategies geared toward employee retention and professional development. There are several outcomes that result from the data gained from skills-based mapping.

More upskilling

The outcome of the skills analysis is the identification of skill gaps, both at the individual and organizational level. Now that those gaps have been identified, you can begin to create a modern learning strategy to fill the gaps. For instance, if the data shows that only half of your sales team believes that they have excellent negotiation skills, you can build a learning plan to help team members improve their negotiation tactics and become negotiation superstars. This might include building in learning scenarios where team members can practice their skills, and opportunities for them to reflect on their learning or leverage social assessment for peer feedback. Those superstars can then help onboard and mentor new sales team members to bring them up to the same level of standard.

Better Recruiting

The skill gaps you uncover in your analysis can help direct your hiring practices, so you actively recruit and hire people who reflect the desired skill sets.

More Agile Teams

As noted, the highest performing organizations are typically made up of agile teams, formed with specific skills to tackle specific business problems or projects. When you have a clear and up-to-date inventory of the skills available within your organization, you can quickly identify who should be on what team to successfully reach the desired goals.

Empowered Employees

Allowing your team members to see who in the company has a specific skill set allows them to reach out and ask for help if they need it. This knowledge empowers individuals to seek out mentors and take the lead in their own professional development process.

Keep it going

Skills mapping is not a one-time thing. This is particularly true today, where the business is continuously evolving and the half-life of a learned skill is now five years (or less). You must continually revisit the lists of desired skills and update as needed.

Curious to learn how skills mapping can help sharpen and refine your modern learning strategy?

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