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How to Shift to a Capability Building Model for Employee Development

Capability Building in Shifting Landscape

In 2008, Google and P&G swapped two dozen employees for a few weeks. P&G wanted greater exposure to online models; Google was interested in learning more about how to build brands.

Two things became clear:

  •  Future is going to be less about competition and more about collaboration.
  • Future is going to be as much about capabilities as it is going to be about the product.

Competence vs Capability

While competency mapping is important, capability goes one step further. When you are building capability for your employees, you are making them effectively perform their work today while preparing for challenges they’ll face in the future.

Competence refers to a person’s current state, and talks about the knowledge and necessary skills they possess to perform a job. Whereas capability is about integrating knowledge and skills, and adapting and flexing to meet future needs.

Shifting from a competency model to a capability building model calls for a change in mindset. Your talent development programs must make employees more learning agile and more committed to continuous learning & development to successfully create, innovate, lead, and manage change as a future leader.

The changing demographics: Rise of millennials and the importance of employee experiences

Until the late 90s or the early 2000s, most employees spent their working careers in one or two companies. In fact, most European economies and the U.S. industrial economy were based on this talent model with traditional retirement and pension schemes. The corporate landscape was also different then, with the top 20 companies employing almost 10% of the workforce.

All this has changed. Millennial workers are ambitious, and they are in a constant lookout for better career prospects. They find their jobs online — with a plethora of options  to choose from — and they keep interviewing for new positions on a regular basis throughout their career. These millennials are serial job hoppers and they switch jobs every two years.

According to Deoitte’s Global Millennial Survey, millennials are expressing uneasiness and pessimism — about their careers, their lives and the world around them. They have bleak expectations around the economy, leave aside their current jobs.

Clearly, you need to tailor your employee training & people development programs around the millennials’ tastes and preferences, because 75% of the workforce will be millennials by 2025.

And it’s already happening. Most big companies are now conducting employee onboarding as a multi-month journey, with different types of tangible milestones and developmental experiences along the way.

Employee journeys have their own twists, turns, detours, and even a few bumps, but eventually they are full of moments that matter. These moments together define the employee experience for your organization.

Now, employees keep needing different types of support and services at all times of day — for instance outbound sales professionals who travel frequently need supporting travel services, while those working remote need new laptops, phones, and tablets, along with necessary support in form of VPN and file storage systems. Not only this, under regulatory environments, employees must clock in everyday and complete mandatory courses and maintain certifications, and stay current on the process changes all the time. Besides, when a company merges, or goes for a major upgrade, or for that matter goes through a downturn, it requires a lot of effort to integrate these changes with employees’ body, mind and behavior.

Employees care about all these things. If you look at how employers are rated on websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Kununu, employees are regularly discussing culture, management, and the work environment as the most important factors at work (pay is important too, but LinkedIn’s latest survey says it’s the employee experience that really matters).

Blending Capability Building Model with Employee Experience

The very concept of Learning Management System was giving learning a digital makeover — learning that was more engaging, more pull-based, more retention-focused, and convenient in the form of self-paced content. Until late, LMS used to be a cornerstone in corporate training & employee learning. They were hugely successful, but soon reached a point of saturation.

Organizations felt a need to go beyond the LMS, and in came Learning Experience Platforms —  with new features such as MOOC integrations, Open content from the web, On-demand learning, and AI Content recommendations.

At this stage, the employee development & corporate learning market is big. But the most successful companies in this segment are those that have taken a leap one notch higher — towards Employee Experience platform.

The future of corporate workplaces is one such integrated capability building platform that delivers constant employee experiences..from hire to retire!

So what does this leap from learning experience platform to an integrated capability building platform look like? How does it help organizations create superstars at the workplace? How do they promote, as they claim, learning in the flow of work! More importantly, does this new approach have a tangible business edge over legacy learning platforms?

Developing a continuous capability building model

Employee engagement is undergoing a metamorphosis. Over the last five years, disruption based on digital technologies has been phenomenal and unprecedented. The social and emotional meaning of loyalty and longevity is changing, as we discussed earlier.

In this context, it is time to relook and reboot your employee experience strategy.

Several stakeholders play an important role here in delivering a great employee experience:

  • The recruiter
  • The manager
  • The business leader
  • The intangible stakeholders in processes, policies and technology

It’s time to align all these stakeholders and chalk out a strategy to meet the needs of the changing workplace. Start with pre-joining rituals: give your would-be employees interactive self-learning modules to understand the history & vision of the company to ensure they culturally fit into the new family!

Give them virtual onboarding, where engaging & interactive audio video training sessions and initial employee orientations are conducted virtually from far-off geographically dispersed location.

The first 90 days should actually be quite an adventure! These are the experiences we are talking about.

And then, you ace in your current role, making you better at what you do each passing hour..with a structured and personalized training journey under your manager’s attention.

Once you map your competencies, devise a skill-based learning framework where en employee’s strengths are leveraged and areas of development continuously addressed.

Nothing better than using bots to help employees on key processes and competencies, right in the flow of work.

We are talking about daily upskilling and cross-skilling to offset the volatile marketplace and skyrocketing employee performance by setting new milestones in the process.

Constantly assess employee performance and based on identified skill gaps, create personalized learning journeys. The learning content can come through both in-house knowledge repositories as well as MOOCs.

This is the way to turn your average employee next door into a seasoned performer. The bottom line is to develop an end-to-end learning culture that cuts across all the departments and functionalities.

Whatmore, you also need one such integrated capability building platform to bring out the leader in your employees, polishing their functional, technical and behavioral skills.

Looking ahead..

Having a highly skilled talent pool can help an organization be prepared for impending changes and challenges, but what will truly enable them excel in their industry is an integrated framework that not only includes competency mapping of individual employees followed by a clear growth roadmap for future, but also lets the employees transition into leadership roles through an awareness-based approach to self transformation.

If you are one such learning leader at the helm of workforce readiness and transformation activities in your organization, chalk out a well-deserved continuous capability building model that outlines how professionals serving in different roles add significant value to your organization through their work by fostering a learning culture, improving daily performance, and supporting the organization at every stage of lifecycle with awareness-based learning.

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