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Upskilling and Career Pathing to Success

By: Candice Frazer

~ 5 minute read

The key to an organization’s success lies in its ability to unlock the full potential of its internal talent. This profound truth was brought into sharp focus during a recent webinar with Danielle Eddy, the Head of Talent Acquisition and Development at GCON. Her insights, gleaned from active participation in this year’s annual SHRM conference and practical execution of an Upskilling strategy at GCON, have provided a wealth of knowledge for professionals and organizations alike seeking to excel in upskilling and career pathing strategies.

And it’s no wonder why up-skilling is an initiative for this award winning organization. According to the Workplace Learning Report, the top two priorities for 18-to-34-year-old professionals when they’re considering a new job are “opportunities for career growth within the company” and “opportunities to learn and develop new skills.” So meeting talent where they want to grow and doing it in a strategic way to help the business makes sense.

The webinar’s highlights illuminate a path toward strategic investment in skill pathing, fostering growth, and scaling internal talent pipelines. 

Here, you will be able to access the wealth of knowledge shared by Danielle Eddy during the webinar, offering a comprehensive guide for professionals, HR leaders, and business managers interested in nurturing their teams, optimizing talent development, and fostering growth. The path to success begins with understanding the significance of skill pathing and its pivotal role in your organization’s journey toward excellence.

What Does It Mean to Be People-Centered?

Have you ever wondered what it truly means to be people-centered in your organization? It’s not just about catchy hashtags like #peoplefirst, #peoplecentric, or #peoplecentered. It’s about creating an environment where your team doesn’t feel abandoned by the organization. It’s about eliminating uncertainty and investing in your people. But most importantly, it’s about giving them a path forward.

When you declare, “We are going to skill you and reskill you to keep you employed in the ever-changing economy,” it’s not just a statement; it’s an investment in your team that will ultimately pay dividends to your bottom line.

Once you have a commitment across the organization to truly be People-Centered in all of the correct ways, you can progress to the second step in the process – a Skill Gap Analysis.

Getting Started with a Skill Gap Analysis

Knowing how to conduct an effective Skills Gap Analysis is a bit of an art and a science. Eddy dove deep into GCON’s process and recommends the following steps. 

  1. Current Skills Analysis: Before you embark on any journey, you need to know where you are starting from. Begin by examining career mapping for each job family within your organization. Consider the inherent skills required for each job family. Don’t forget to align the expectations between mid-level employees and executives.
  2. Future Skills Analysis: The future is a landscape waiting to be shaped. Analyze your workforce composition in five years based on how your organization plans to grow. Is it entering a new market? Pursuing a new growth strategy? Venturing into a new vertical? Identify the skills that will be needed by your staff, skills that you might currently lack but are vital to reaching that five-year milestone.

  3. Filling the Gap: Now that you know the gap, the next question is how to fill it. Can you elevate your team’s capabilities within that time frame, or do you need to make external investments in new talent or new tech? If the former is your choice, it’s time to start those crucial conversations now to ensure that your team not only comprehends the plan but also actively embraces it.

Now you have the fundamentals of the business case. Next is making your case relevant to the executives in the organization. Eddy shared a clever and pragmatic way to make it resonate with those outside of the immediate upskilling team.

Making Upskilling a Priority with Your Executive Team

Eddy took the following steps with her executive team to build out a use case. It involved indulging in one on one meetings with each executive to hear their perspective, understand their needs, and come together as a team.

  1. Build a Venn Diagram: Visualize the overlapping needs when it comes to talent development and upskilling. Address the common ground first, but don’t forget the outliers. Consider the perspectives of both executives and employees.
  2. Define Upskilling: Using your Venn diagram as a foundation, define what upskilling means for your organization. Ensure that this definition aligns seamlessly with your mission and vision.
  3. Refine with Strategy: Take this definition and refine it further to align it with your business strategy. It’s not enough for upskilling to be a standalone effort; it should be intricately woven into the fabric of your organizational goals.

Further, upskilling is a significant endeavor, and it needs to be framed in a language that resonates with your C-suite. Here are a few ideas on how to do just that:

  • Tie into the Profitability Model: Show how upskilling directly contributes to the profitability of the organization. Demonstrating a positive impact on the bottom line is a surefire way to garner support.
  • Tie into Core Values: Align upskilling initiatives with the core values of your organization. Highlight how investing in employee growth aligns with the principles that your company stands for.
  • Tie into Mission and Vision: Showcase how upskilling ties into the broader mission and vision of your organization. Make it clear that upskilling is not just about the present; it’s about realizing a future where your company thrives.

You’ve got your executives on board, and your upskilling plan is ready. But how do you ensure that your program stays sustainable in the long run?

Sustainability: Ensuring the Longevity of Your Program

The path to upskilling is an infinite game – one where you have to stay committed to evolving it over time and working on it – we’re talking in years! Here are some techniques Eddy used at GCON to get the team bought in and what she is committing to over the long term.

Cast a Vision: Paint a vivid picture of what upskilling will look like in the future. Communicate this vision to the rest of your team, including mid-level and front-line employees. Make sure everyone understands the value proposition.

Assess Your Tools: Take a close look at the technical infrastructure you need to support career pathways. Do you have a Learning Management System (LMS) that works seamlessly with your upskilling plans? Are your accounting and operations systems synchronized with career pathing efforts?

Build a Communications Org Chart: Identify key roles or influencers within your organization who can help communicate the upskilling messages effectively. These influencers will have a profound impact on how the message is received and embraced.

Identify Your Measurements: Metrics are essential for tracking progress and success. Ensure that your metrics are tied to the bottom line and business growth. Measure progress regularly and be ready to adjust your strategy based on the data you gather.

These four techniques are enabling Eddy to build a sustainable approach to her upskilling strategy at GCON. But critical to her success was the selection of GCON’s LMS, for which she shared these tips about selecting a content library.

Selecting a Content Library or Learning Management System (LMS)

When it comes to upskilling, having the right tools is crucial. If you’re considering a content library or LMS, here’s what you should keep in mind:

Identify a content library that aligns with your needs. Consider:

Skills Needed: Ensure that the library offers content that matches the skills your employees require for their roles.

Modality or Media: Different employees may prefer different learning styles. Look for a library that offers a variety of modalities to cater to diverse learning preferences.

Pull vs. Push Capabilities: Determine whether the library allows employees to access content proactively or if it’s primarily pushed to them.

Manager-Friendly: Make sure the library is user-friendly for managers who will oversee their teams’ upskilling efforts.

Customization: Consider how easy it is to upload your unique content into the library, ensuring it aligns with your organization’s specific needs and processes.

In conclusion, upskilling and career pathing are not just buzzwords; they are the keys to staying relevant and competitive in today’s dynamic job market. By following these insights and asking the right questions, you can create a robust upskilling strategy that benefits both your employees and your organization’s bottom line, just like Eddy has done at GCON.

Remember, it’s not just about what you learn; it’s about how you apply it. So, are you ready to invest in your team’s future and make upskilling a priority?

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Candice Frazer

Strategic marketer and operational powerhouse, blending art and science at MindWire. Recovering perfectionist, believer in wisdom, presence, and gratitude. Tea lover, bookworm, and nature walker.