Field of (Skills) Dreams: Avoiding Regrets by Creating Governance Along the Way

As organizations build out their talent framework with skills as the DNA connecting jobs, learning, and employees, they need to also look at how they manage it.

The mantra of “If we build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply to skills because the framework needs to be refreshed, reviewed, and updated to keep your talent coming to what you’ve built and engaging in it. Skills need to help answer and deliver on the “what’s in it for me” for employees.

Planting the Field

Building an organizational initiative that permeates through your talent needs to have process around it. Your talent is always evolving. Market trends drive constant changes in what skills are relevant to an employee to learn and earn.

As you prepare to implement skills, there are some basic best practices you should put in place to help guarantee success with a governance model.

1. Get Leadership buy-in. The leaders need to demonstrate the value of skills by walking the talk of skills. It needs to be part of talent objectives, tied to the overall mission and values, and be part of what they can demonstrate in what they do. It then becomes part of the culture where leaders can identify cultural skills that are shared across the organization but owned by the individual employees.

2. Make it “real” for employees. You need to make sure you understand the mindsets of your employees and the overall user journeys. This will provide insight into the “what’s next” for them and helps you create an experience showing value and encouraging adoption in the skills ecosystem.

3. Demonstrate the benefit to employees. Telling the story of skills brings skills to life for employees. We all like reward and recognition for what we do. Providing real-life stories on how skills have benefited employees helps create the reason for them to engage. If employees see and relate to the benefit, they will engage in skills as well.

4. Manage Change. We talk about this being an evolution. The evolution is a big shift that needs cultural and organizational support. Bringing employees along for that journey with education, communication, and assistance helps drive the culture shift to a skills-centric organization.

5. Connect the skills dots. See how skills should or could fit into other initiatives within the company. Define and outline where skills can be integrated to add value to existing programs or where programs can support skills development.

Companies that are building a skills ecosystem need to make sure that the skills remain applicable to the employee, company, and industry. Rolling out skills is only a piece of the larger skills puzzle. Building a skills field of dreams starts with putting the system(s) in place to organize and manage your skills. The next step you need to do is weed, fertilize, water, and cultivate your field. How do you build a field that creates a big yield long after you implement the skills systems?

Organizing the Field Crew

The initial “planting” stage of building a skills framework is no small task. It involves tagging or assigning skills to your job framework, the learning content, and employee work history. But who is determining the taxonomy of the skills? Or the competency of each skill as it is assigned?

Building a skills taskforce (akin to the field crew in our analogy) to help govern this process is essential to the success of your initiative. The objective is to drive the coordination and connected nature of skills, ultimately enabling the employee experience, bringing skills across the employee journey, and unlocking talent mobility to add value for the business.

This governance group should be an assembly of cross-functional individuals acting as the council that reviews the processes and provides direction regarding management of the skills ecosystem. The group can provide strategy and guidance as an advisory team for the roll out and management of skills across your organization. The council  should be the liaison across employee-facing initiatives to improve alignment throughout the employee experience.

The taskforce creates alignment across human resource enterprise initiatives. Skills go across the talent lifecycle and are driven by employee engagement; the group needs to understand the employee talent journey to make sure it aligns as skills go across it.

The size of your organization will determine the hierarchy of the taskforce. We typically see it broken into at least two tiers of strategic and operational teams. The team’s objectives vary based on your size and where you want the responsibilities to be positioned.

There are key objectives to account for in determining who within the overall taskforce owns each specific objective. Foundationally, it is typically broken down into two categories, with higher day-to-day engagement at the operational level and more advisory at the strategic level.

Strategic objectives:

  • Set the direction for the management and execution of enterprise skills
  • Make critical decisions and cross-initiative coordination
  • Advocate and communicate program importance across the business
  • Ensure alignment with the company’s Talent and Skills Strategy
  • Support alignment with other initiatives
  • Provide oversight and sponsorship of programs

Operational objectives:

  • Manage the workplan and skills day-to-day governance
  • Manage delivery of key activities and materials
  • Drive roll-out planning
  • Secure and develop Operational Readiness plan (e.g., team resources, change management)
  • Identify integration opportunities for skills to align with other employee-facing initiatives
  • Drive communication about skills at all levels across the organization
  • Advocate for skills and identify opportunities to weave them into day-to-day activities, especially those regular talent processes (e.g., 1:1s, annual reviews)

Maintaining and Cultivating Growth

Once the foundation is set with the skills across jobs, learning, and employees, the work has just begun. Like any cash crop, the skills ecosystem needs to be maintained to stay healthy.

Skills are always evolving, and Skills Cloud uses AI to provide suggestions to employees on skills that could be of interest or relevant to them. The AI  not only does this for foundational pieces (e.g., jobs, learning, people), but also it reviews and parses skills that are important to your organizational taxonomy.

A governance model needs to put processes in place that keep skills relevant to the jobs, learning, and  the employee. Procedures need to be implemented to prevent your organization from defaulting back to updating content only when it is required, remembered, or replaced. The tools you have with your different systems are there to help manage, refer, and maintain the skills taxonomy.

The governance taskforce needs to put the framework in place with parameters to review, refresh, update and populate your organizations skills taxonomy. They need to set processes on how the skills are reviewed, approved, and added to new jobs and learning content.

When you build your skills ecosystem, you need to do more than just stand the systems up. To get your employees to come, you need to put the framework, governance, and structure in place to enable the organic growth of your skills ecosystem. Like a field, you need to cultivate the skills to help create the dreams for your employees.

  • Employee engagement
  • HCM
  • HR Strategy
  • HR Tech
  • reskilling
  • Skills
  • talent strategy
  • Workday Skills

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