he benefits of upskilling are numerous: from more satisfied employees and customers, to greater innovation, productivity and talent.
What is upskilling? Upskilling is the process of adding new skills to your portfolio. Teams that pursue upskilling are more flexible and resilient, and have fewer skill gaps to contend with.
Upskilling takes time and planning to execute well. If you’ve identified skill gaps in your teams, or are interested in how you can take your team to the next level, a learning and development program can be an investment that pays dividends for many years.
There are many tactics you can use in your L&D program to facilitate upskilling. Here are some of the most effective tactics you can use to get started.
Identify gaps and potential
Begin by auditing the skills of your team members. What are their current capabilities? Then, look for the gaps. Identify the skills that are missing, or the onboarding that is lacking. The other factor to look for is potential. Chances are, certain team members have already expressed an interest or aptitude for a skill that could easily be nurtured. Ensure you involve your team in the process for authentic input.
Create time for upskilling
If your teams are already overworked, or run on tightly-packed schedules, adding additional required training will only breed resentment and resistance. Any L&D program must have leadership buy-in to ensure that an appropriate amount of time is set aside for employees to complete.
Recognise upskilling efforts
Teams who are assigned training must feel that it is a beneficial use of their time. Otherwise, they are likely to be unengaged and apathetic towards the program. It is critical for training to match the needs of your team, either addressing genuine skill gaps, providing unique and valuable knowledge or offering career growth opportunities. If team members have put in effort to upskill themselves, reward the effort with responsibilities that match their new skills.
Modern eLearning course builders allow teams to quickly and easily create beautiful and interactive courses. eLearning courses are a highly flexible training option, allowing team members to train when and where they need, from the office to the field to the commute in between. On average, eLearning courses are three times quicker to complete than face-to-face training, are cheaper to deliver, are easily scalable as your organisation grows, and deliver a consistent training experience every time. eLearning courses are easy to incorporate into onboarding programs, upskilling pathways and career development plans.
Mentoring has long been recognised as an effective method for passing along wisdom. For a successful mentoring program, ensure all parties are enthusiastic about participating and that expectations for mentoring relationships are clearly set.
Managers as coaches
Even if a formal mentoring program isn’t possible, organisations can still foster a culture of sharing knowledge and experience between junior and senior members by training managers to actively coach their junior team members.
Lunch and Learn
‘Lunch and learn’ describes one-hour seminars on concise topics by subject matter experts, presented around lunch time and available to a wide audience. Lunch and learn sessions give teams a chance to recognise and learn from each other’s expertise over their lunch breaks. While lunch and learn sessions are a fun and useful concept, the relaxed and optional format prevents it from being a staple in solid L&D programs.
It’s easy to get excited by the different possibilities for introducing new skills to your team. However, it’s important to take time to plan how you will implement new ideas and processes to ensure you are meeting the right needs at the right time, and that your new plan will be sustainable for the long term.
Learning and development programs are a true investment. With a little planning and persistence, upskilling your team will create and attract top talent and leaders, and foster a culture of curiosity, initiative and innovation.