How soon will robots take over our jobs? Will Artificial Intelligence become more intelligent than we are or can ever be? Will the Internet of Things rule our lives, synching every last detail of our homes and gadgets to the Cloud? How will facial recognition change our ability to live life as we know it? What can we do to ensure that our skills remain relevant and we can continue to deliver value to the economy?
We are bombarded with news that to succeed in the workforce, we will need to acquire new skills. Our professions will evolve, and many will go the ways of typists, telephone operators, and travel agents. Learning will be a lifelong process.
Products are also changing quicker than ever before. Product life cycles are shorter than we could have imagined even a few years ago, and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence will affect our lives in ways we can’t yet fathom.
Change Is Coming
Industry 4.0 technologies — including robotics, the Internet of Things, advanced connectivity and automation, and Artificial Intelligence — are on track to profoundly disrupt our lives. The EU is investing 20 billion Euros in AI. China and the US are also investing heavily. From 2013 to 2017, venture capital funding for AI startups increased over fourfold, making it one of the fastest growing industries worldwide.
Few employees feel ready. A Deloitte study found that Millennials, the generation you might consider best positioned to embrace such technology, feel unprepared for the altered nature of work being brought by Industry 4.0. Many surveyed fear they lack the necessary skills and don’t believe their employers are doing enough to help them.
Other research has found that companies want to hire employees they don’t need to train. This strategy is demotivating to employees. It also creates inefficiencies and high turnover costs that companies can’t afford as their industries evolve in ways they cannot foresee.
Brace Yourself and Your Organization for Disruption
Companies are adapting to these environments by testing new ways to work. Agile — an approach to work that delivers small, tangible results quickly, with continuous evaluation of requirements, plans, and results — is one such example. It allows companies to respond to customers’ changing demands faster than traditional project management.
To be agile, organizations need to innovate how they organize work. Some form highly autonomous project teams around particular product functionalities, while others work to solve specific customer problems. These approaches only help if you know what skills your organization has and in what areas it still faces challenges.
Gain Insight into What Skills You Have, and What You Need
You may think you already know what skills your team has, but research and experience challenge this assumption. Our awareness of what others can do is a combination of shared moments of working together, past experiences, other peoples’ opinions, and reputation. As the Johari Window shows, we all have blind spots.
Skills gaps cause the entire team to suffer. Whether you head a department, work in HR, are an employee or work in a team, skills mapping, also called “competency mapping,” can help you adapt to whatever change comes your way.
Educate Your Organization about How Skill Visibility Benefits Individuals and Improves Teams
Raising awareness about how full visibility of skills benefits various members of your team is crucial to successful skills mapping implementation. Various groups benefit, with different gains for each.
Team leads and heads of departments:
- Form teams based on skill sets and assign the right people to projects, and
- Address skill gaps by recruiting the best employees from other departments or by hiring outside the organization, for example using freelance experts.
- Create a learning organization with communities of practice and learning (for example, matching internal mentors with mentees),
- Prepare relevant development programs and individual learning opportunities, and
- Plan recruitment.
- Learn what skills to develop to progress in your career,
- Identify who in your organization can help you develop a particular skill, and
- Speak with HR about career development options.
Ensure Teams Operate as Efficiently as Possible
Skill visibility improves three components of successful groups:
- Role distribution — Who is responsible for what? Who has what skills, and who is the best suited to lead specific tasks? Employees experience psychological safety — feeling like they can take risks without being insecure or embarrassed — when they have clarity and agree on roles and expectations. Research has found this to be a major driver in enabling teams to be innovative, creative and perform successfully.
- Interdependence — How do members depend on each other? In what order should tasks be delivered? How does one team member’s progress affect the rest of the team? Open and honest information sharing is crucial to build interdependence, which in turn increases trust, genuineness, empathy, and success.
- Optimized team structure — What specializations help the team successfully deliver on specific tasks? Who can work on what and with whom? Do we need external resources, and if so, what type? How can all team members deliver value to the team?
Mapping the precise skills in your organization can seem like a monumental task. At Innential, we support organizations in:
- Gaining clarity about what skills are in the organization and what skills are needed,
- Compiling a full overview of current skill gaps in particular project teams, and
- Integrating all relevant learning options in one place: peer-to-peer learning, eLearning, learning management systems and open learning platforms.