4 steps to adopt an agile skills strategy

Evolving your skills strategy from top down to bottom up ⬆️

Cassie Gasson Chief Marketing Officer

A laptop next to a typewriter

The world we live in is constantly moving. Skills are changing at an accelerating rate and businesses are in a race to keep up. But the gap keeps widening, Gartner HR Research found 58% of today’s workforce will need new skills to do their jobs successfully by 2030. 

It’s true. The way we do things is constantly improving, and as that happens new tools and ways of working are introduced. How aware are you and your business of the areas where skills are changing most rapidly, and how able are you reacting to support individuals in that growth? 

Traditional skills frameworks are too broad to be useful in this scenario, and most learners can’t resonate with them because they don't use the terminology they are familiar with nor do they relate to the essential day to day skills they know they need in their role. 

That’s why we believe you need to move towards an agile skills strategy that harnesses user generated skills to capture an accurate picture of what skills look like within your organisation - one that’s actually powered by your people.

Step 1 - Adapt to an agile skills mindset

Traditional skills frameworks appeal to business leaders and L&D professionals because they can be easily controlled from the top down. 

Traditional frameworks usually consist of a predefined list of generalised capability areas based on what attributes an organisation wants to see across their workforce.

But how does that scale and help individuals develop? A Senior Microservices Developer is in a better position to understand what skills they have, what skills they need and how to define them, more so than a top level C-suite role or L&D executive, right? That’s why you have experts, why not start to tap into that?

So, step one is getting comfortable with letting go of the reins and adopting a more agile approach to skills. A mindset that’s open to user generated skills, iterative decision making based off new and emerging skills and total transparency across your workforce. 

When you step back and start thinking about the bigger picture you can making progress with content supply and demand,  managing personalised skills at scale and self-directed development.

Step 2 - Invest in a system that supports for User Generated skills

What are user generated skills? 

The emerging skills that haven't yet been endorsed by the organisation. User generated skills use real-time learner data from your Learning & Skills Platform to build a snapshot of what your current skills landscape looks like.

Don’t develop a skills ontology and then try to cram user data into it. Start with user data, your learning platform (if it’s a good one) will have already collected the data you need! 

It becomes so easier with visibility. Your L&D team, business leaders and managers need the right tools and processes in place to collect and mine the skills data that inform your decisions.

Getting this snapshot and keeping it up-to-date manually is almost impossible because it’s a living, breathing strategy that’s designed to change as your people evolve.

That's why choosing a technology which allows users to identify the skills they have and choose which skills they want to build on is essential to support your ongoing agile approach and is key to bringing this to life. 

You’ll then be able to use the data you collect to upskill your people and create and recommend the right learning opportunities.

Step 3 - Trust your learners

Trust your learners and give them adequate time to add their skills and start identifying those new skills they need. 

A really great example of this could be in Sales. Traditionally Sales skills might include negotiation, communication, emotional intelligence, Salesforce and Email. However, modern Sales people are more and more finding new ways to communicate. Tools like VidYard are becoming increasingly more popular and skills such as content creation and talking on camera way more relevant.

It may start off messy with some head scratching results that might need some verification, but that’s a given. It’s actually a good thing because it means you’ve collected enough data to start making sense of it and gives you a range of skills to decide what’s worth endorsing to future proof your business. 

Step 4 - Review data and use it as a way to determine how your people think about learning

In a traditional skills framework, something like communication would apply to all teams. But what does communication mean?  Is it a CSM clearly explaining a feature? A developer properly commenting on their code? A marketer working collaboratively on a campaign? 

With a user generated skills system, you can ascertain how learners precisely define their skills, meaning you get an insight into exactly what you should be looking to upskill and hire for. 

You’re also able to clearly identify where the skills gaps are and the ratio of content demand and supply for certain topics. Take the VidYard example, this might be a rising skill that your junior sales reps resonate with more so than ‘video communication’. So, not only do you know what language they resonate with, but you know there’s demand for training content on it and probably need to upskill those other team members in sales that haven't started developing this up and coming skill. A skill that you might not have had the visibility to identify before adopting an agile skills approach! 

We understand that change can be scary, and may involve a fair amount of work. But more than an increased workload, what we are suggesting is that you change your mindset about the skills within your organisation. Rather than trying to outline necessary or “important” skills before consulting your workforce, it’s all about adapting to the approach that they will tell you what skills are important, either by their listed skills or through the data they generate on their platform. 

If you are interested in learning more about the cutting edge of organizational skills development, then check out our completely free ebook that gives you all the information you need about how to embrace the future of skills and what it really means to have adopted an agile skills strategy.

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