Article

The future of re-skilling

This ability to re-skill will thrive on three key pillars for organizations and individuals

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Email
Explore

Re-skilling is crucial to stay relevant in today's fast changing environment – but, the clincher is inculcating ways to drive continuous learning.

With technology playing an extensive role in our personal and professional lives, the rate at which business environments are disrupting, and the fact that new skill sets are becoming a necessity — there is a strong push for organizations to foster a culture of continuous learning. Learning that not only helps employees build future-proof careers and excel in the face of disruption, but also helps organizations remain competitive and continue to thrive.

This ability to re-skill will thrive on three key pillars for organizations and individuals.

1. Leveraging the power of collective intelligence

The new world of work works on a basic rule of thumb — teams win, individuals don't. Think of the workplace as a sport field and understand the critical role each individual plays in the team's overall performance. As business challenges and organizational structures become more and more complex, the solution lies in a 'team of teams' work ethos, riding on individual strengths of the members of the workforce to deliver one solution that works.

Broad-based re-skilling needs to become a company strategy and business imperative with one clear objective. A 'master/apprentice' model is a great way to initiate people into learning. People learn the best from other people and with the advent of AI and technology seeping in so deep and so pervasively, it's important organizations leverage experts that exist within the system and identify “knowledge gurus" and “knowledge brokers" — people who are accessible to many of their colleagues.

2. Context is king

Organizations need to make sure people engage with content that is relevant to them. It might sound rather basic but it is indeed difficult. Thousands of people at different levels of their careers with multiple skill sets — how do organizations make sure individuals find skills and learning opportunities that are most relevant for them! This is the age of hyper-personalization, and learning and re-skilling have to follow this path too.

People need to be given learning opportunities within the context of their role, function and what they are best suited to do — making them understand why a particular technology or tool will make their work faster and error-free. Let's look at an Accounts Payable specialist in the finance function. What will motivate this specialist to learn natural language processing (NLP) or artificial intelligence? The fact that by learning and then applying NLP, this Accounts Payable specialist will reduce manual effort for invoice capture and validation, and deliver more efficiently.

The other important thing is to avoid portraying learning as “mandatory" and highlight how success hinges on an employee's mastery of new and innovative ways to solve business problems. Periodic “nudges" can be a good strategy.

3. Self-learning – people taking the lead

This brings us to the last and most important re-skilling pillar. Organizations can bring in the best-curated learning content, give it the context that makes it relatable and ride on collective intelligence, but unless people become the custodians of their own learning, doing what they are supposed to do in the flow of their daily work, the needle just won't move.

Domain expertise, digital quotient, professional and leadership skills — all of these are essential for any role in any field. Employees need to take the time in their day to add new skills to their repertoire, and organizations need to make it easy for people to include this learning in the flow of daily work. They need to map learning opportunities to their daily calendars. For instance, imagine a client engagement executive has an upcoming meeting with an aero-engineering manufacturer. A short video on how analytics and data from flight records help inventory optimization (thus, reducing cycle time for parts replacement) is going to ensure the conversation at that meeting is far more outcome-driven. Or, someone is presenting to the C-suite. A course on effective presentation skills is essential prep and a no brainer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson might have liked us to believe a man is what he thinks about all day long. In today's world of tomorrow, we need to change it. A man or woman is what they learn and apply all day long.

The article was authored by Piyush Mehta, Chief Human Resource Officer at Genpact, and was first published in BusinessWorld.