Surprisingly few leaders have a comprehensive idea of the skills they can draw on within their teams, or a system to gather that information. But, according to Jeff Hesse, writing for Strategy+Business, this is crucial knowledge for an ever-changing, data and automation-driven business environment.
Even firms that do assess the skills base they have are unlikely to usefully employ those facts, says Hesse.
As co-leader of a “Workforce of the Future” study at PwC, he researches and imagines what workplace skills are likely to be needed in 2030. Response from business leaders to a recent survey for the study revealed that over 50% are currently looking at how man and machines will co-create.
FINDING THE RIGHT SKILLS
“Even now, with automation still in its early days, CEOs told us that finding the skills they need has become the biggest challenge to their business – a situation that will only get more acute as technology evolves and competition for talent tightens.”
Bearing that future scenario in mind, how do you go about efficiently assessing your workforce and identifying potential missing links?
Here are some key steps to follow:
1) Determine which skills your business needs now. Break these down into specific divisions, such as accounting or computer programming. Consider the level of expertise of each employee in their specific area, and also any additional skills they have personally that are not covered by their job title.
2) Decide how to record the information. Smaller companies can probably rely on a simple spreadsheet of skill scores, but bigger organisations could embrace a technological solution whereby employees can assess their own technology skills, find the gaps and then devise an improvement plan, while you get the data you need. Either way, it needs to be a rolling programme, updated as staff are upskilled or choose to move on.
3) Make the results searchable. To ensure its functionality, you need to organise your data input using consistent language to identify each skill. Or you could employ a sophisticated search engine that can seek specific qualities.
4) Examine the data for an accurate assessment. Pinpoint the current strengths and weaknesses of your teams. Your analysis can be as simple as comparing rows on a spreadsheet, or you can use an analytics programme or app that is geared to your industry to do the job.
5) Picture your company in three years’ time. What skills might you need then that are missing now? With the gaps identified, you can now plan to develop existing staff or recruit outsiders who already have those strengths. However, Hesse warns: “It’s important not to forget that planning your strategy shouldn’t happen in a vacuum – it should always be connected to larger, unified business goals.”
Predicting the future naturally involves a large degree of speculation but, armed with the right data and analysis, and an informed view of potential change, you can avert a last-minute crisis.