We know that work will be different tomorrow, due to the pressures of technology change. Employees will need to be more entrepreneurial, innovative, adaptable, collaborative and adept in the use of digital tools. Amid the debate about upskilling and reskilling people for the workplace of the future, many businesses fail to recognise that a host of the skills they will need already exist in their workforce.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Future of Work will be skill-based, meaning that the right skill sets will be prized over academic qualifications alone. But what if many of these skills already exist in the business, albeit in raw form? How can you identify them, bring them to the surface and strengthen them?
Here are a few ideas:
- Explore gamification and agile collaboration
Ideation contests, team-building exercises and other informal collaborative and or friendly competitive activities can be a great way to bring hidden talents to the fore, whether that’s a creative mind or unexpected leadership qualities. PwC’s Vicki Huff Eckert says that hackathons can be a great way to solve problems and give people a chance to shine. She also recommends agile working methodologies as a way to reveal individuals with the right mindset for innovation.
- Find out about their achievements outside the office
Dara Goldberg tells the story of how she uncovered unknown organisational and leadership skills in a quiet colleague who kept to herself in the office after Goldberg asked about her interests outside of work. The office introvert was a Scrabble powerhouse who built a thriving community of fans to share her interests—assertive, industrious, social and skilled in marketing and leadership.
The point of the anecdote is that there are many people in every workplace who are talented and accomplished in other spheres of life. Their talents could benefit the business with the right coaching and support. It’s worth asking people what they do in their spare time, what their minor subjects were at university, and what they’re most proud of outside work to identify potential capabilities.
- Create a learning culture
To develop the hidden capabilities in the business, an organisation needs to have a growth mindset, offering every employee myriad ways to develop innate talents and skills. “Investing in upskilling means investing in the individual and their full potential to the company over time,” writes Dina Bayasanova of PitchMe.
This needn’t mean a narrow focus—let people explore mentorship and development opportunities outside their job descriptions if they wish. There may be great potential scrum master bored to tears in the finance team, or a member of the business intelligence team who could be an asset to the marketing function. Developing their skills could help retain them and unlock new business possibilities.
- Simply ask!
If there’s an unexpected skills requirement or an ongoing skills gap, use your internal channels to ask if anyone can help. “By sending out a group email or asking around you may find the right person has been on your Microsoft Teams channel all along,” writes a blogger on Human Resources Director.
[Photo from Adobe Stock]