The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is the companion to an interview conducted with Mike Kritzman, Founder and CEO of SkillNet on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, July 23rd titled SkillNet: Personalized Learning Framework for Your Company.
Experts have been discussing technological changes, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, for a while now. I believe many professionals have accepted that this is how the world is unfolding, but they don’t necessarily have a clear view of what it means for their employees.
Many of the leaders I work with are curious about digital transformation and would like to be proactive, but they aren’t sure where to start. My role is to help them with a range of activities, including understanding opportunities and connecting them with our expert partners who can help them accomplish their goals.
I predict that many (if not all) industries will feel the effects of these technological advances, some at different rates and with different specifics. According to the 2018 jobs report by the World Economic Forum, at least half of the U.S. workforce will require significant reskilling by 2022.
I’ve developed a few ways leaders can become proactive and stay on top of these changes in the workplace:
- Continually update your mindset to demystify changes.
I’ve observed that many of the changes we are facing involve the automation of tasks in our lives. In my experience, keeping up with these changes can be as simple as taking the time to read articles from credible sources that explain the adoption of more technology. Make a conscious effort to understand more about what this tech is and how it could impact your organization.
- Take a look at what could be automated.
Ask yourself which aspects of your role or company can be automated by technology. As you explore the landscape of current and future software, do you see routine parts of your organization’s work that can be more effectively done by technology? I’ve found that this frees people to process the difficult cases that require more unique analysis. Plan any future changes in your company over time so you can schedule skill-building exercises that intersect with when these changes will occur.
- Determine a strategic approach to reskilling.
The World Economic Forum’s job survey also reported that the time it takes to reskill workers can vary among organizations. So, define and enable a plan for continuous reskilling. One plan, for example, might include using software that offers a range of content that is aligned with your development goals. Or, you could consider using a combination of online training and mentoring with coaching. I’ve found this can help provide more flexibility for busy employees, as well as combat the cost of in-person training so that you still receive hands-on guidance and strong learning outcomes.
- Address new job requirements with innovative hiring practices.
In my experience, it can be difficult to find good matches for open positions that cannot be filled via reskilling. I’ve observed a number of companies that are beginning to implement more digital practices of hiring to help save themselves some time. My own company, for example, uses a digital tool that allows job candidates to fill out an assessment before they’re ever interviewed, and we can then see if they are a match for the roles that need to be filled. This allows us to save time and find the best person for the job. So take a look at your current hiring process, and if you find there is room for improvement, brainstorm a few ways your hiring methods could be more effective and efficient — it might even help you in the long run.
- Consider utilizing microlearning tools.
I’ve found microlearning tools — content that is provided in a broken-up, easy-to-digest way — can help employees and organizations share the responsibility of upskilling. This way, you can enable an ongoing conversation and focus on reskilling, as well as ensure your team has the tools to recognize any gaps in their knowledge and can continue to improve. Find and utilize the tools that fit the needs of your business and team so they can set milestones and achieve development goals.
- Build a culture that supports ongoing skill evolution.
Beyond addressing one-time skill gaps, companies now need to create systems and cultures that ensure learning is easy to access and ongoing. In a business sense, I believe this will need to become as common as personal hygiene. Most of us would not imagine showing up in the office without brushing our teeth. In my opinion, as we go forward, the most innovative companies and employees will develop a similar view about learning: It’s a necessity.
I believe one of the simplest steps to encourage ongoing learning and skill-building is to choose one of the aforementioned recommendations to pilot. Experiment with these tools, and identify which ones fill your immediate needs. Then, expand on this exploration item by item.
As we step into what I like to call the “Wild West” of emerging technologies, I believe all leaders and employees will need to understand new trends and manage them to their advantage. An ongoing theme I’ve observed is that we as leaders must find ways to understand the changes our organizations need to make to meet our missions and ensure our teams are able to develop their skills. As leaders, you are uniquely positioned to invest in defining a comprehensive approach to identify and fill gaps on a regular basis and create work that is fulfilling for your team and your company.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.
About the author
Ms. Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute (formerly Metcalf & Associates) is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.