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Moving to a Skills-Based Approach: Evolution or Revolution?

The move towards skills is a journey, and that journey will look different for every organization. Here are some foundations to get you started, with examples of two very different approaches that can lead to success.

Why Are You Looking to Shift Towards Skills?

This is the first question an organization should ask themselves. By embarking on this journey, it’s likely you have already evaluated the benefits of a skills-based approach, but every organization will have different priorities and benefit in different ways so deciding what you and your business ultimately want to achieve will help you focus.

Common examples what organizations want to achieve are:

  • Better align the workforce to the business strategy
  • Future-proof by building an adaptable and agile workforce that can pivot quickly
  • Better equip employees with specific skills development and career-pathing

Once you know the ‘why’ then decide what success would look like. What are the key KPIs that will determine whether this change has been? Getting consensus on these critical KPIs across the business is a huge start.


Evolution or Revolution?

How disruptive should you be as an organization? A skills evolution can help underpin job descriptions with a consistent model that values and prioritizes skills that will feel empowering to employees. This job-oriented architecture can be maintained but you can start leveraging skills that can broaden the impact employees can have at work.

To be more revolutionary in your approach, organizations can more aggressively adopt a skills-based operating model and start to eliminate job-oriented architecture – at the extreme level organizing all work solely around projects, problems to be solved and outcomes to be achieved. Both can succeed so it’s good to understand where on the continuum you would place your goals.

Rally the Troops

Building a skills-based organization is not something that can be done alone. You will need to share your goals and strategy with other stakeholders within the organization and bring them along with you on the journey. People at all levels in the organization need to understand the benefits of this approach, as well as their role during the transition period and beyond.

Decide on Your Skills Assessment Tools

To build a skills-based approach in any form, you will need to accurately identify, measure, and map skills, then understand and manage them in a systematic and usable way – for both your organization and your employees.

By implementing skills assessment methodologies, you can objectively evaluate employee capabilities, enabling quick and informed decisions regarding talent management. With reliable skills data, mapped to a robust skills framework, HR can apply an aligned and consistent strategy to all initiatives across the talent lifecycle, empowering them to adapt as priorities, economic conditions, and talent markets shift.

Learn more about how to build a skills-based organization and how SHL can help with our eBook, How to Build a Skills-Based Organization.

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Andrew Nelesen

Andy Nelesen is the global leader of SHL’s Volume Hiring practice, partnering with SHL customers on the design and optimization of data-driving hiring solutions for the past 10+ years.