Along with many other business functions, HR departments are currently facing unprecedented challenges. While operational and human issues might currently be dominating agendas, many HR leaders are starting to prepare for what is to come.
Skills mapping has long been a useful tool in HR’s talent arsenal, but where it might have been used previously to tweak the performance of specific business areas, it is already being deployed across entire organisations. Surprisingly few companies actually know what “else” their people are capable of. Many critical skills are lying dormant and forgotten.
When the competitive landscape changes beyond recognition, you have to understand how you plot a path to growth. Mapping the skills of your people (many of which may have been hidden up to now as they haven’t been required) and devising a plan to plug the gaps is the first step to recovery. That is, after you choose to stop fire-fighting for a few moments.
The following six-step skills mapping process is not new. It is something that every change management professional (including HR professionals) should know as a tried-and-tested route to a better tomorrow. However, in these mad times, we feel that it is worth reminding our HR colleagues that there is a way forward. Here is our reminder of the six steps:
Visualise current and future needs. Take a snapshot of the business today and do what you can with the people that you have got (who aren’t on furlough) to keep it going. But look to a few versions of the future and understand how you might plan a way forward. Gaps will appear and you can then begin to fine-tune your understanding.
Monitor the future environment. It might sound strange that you should “monitor” the future, but with every change in the current situation, the future outlook shifts. Planning done a month ago may become redundant, so your assessment of the skills required has to shift accordingly. What was a good idea a month ago may not be now? Don’t be precious.
Determine threats and opportunities. It is all too easy to respond to threats without seeing the silver lining of opportunities. To survive in a crisis, you have to do both in equal measure. Which skills can counter the threats and which skills can capitalise on the opportunities? Are the best people doing the right things to make this happen?
Assess your core competencies. What are you best at? Whenever it comes to managing change, it is best to manage from a solid foundation. No one wants to completely reinvent the wheel when livelihoods are at stake, so work out what you do best and then map all the additional skills around that solid base. You have to be good before you can be great.
Decide on strengths and weaknesses. No company can be fantastic at everything. When everyone is frantically treading water, there will be times when you simply have to accept your weaknesses and use other strengths to keep you afloat. Pick strengths that will give you a competitive advantage and assess where you are able to develop your people.
Take action to mobilise talent. Once have a plan (flexible as it might be), you have to put it into action. This might involve both cost and disruption to the business, but if you do not attempt to change you can be assured that you will be left behind. Asking people to deploy new skills is something that every HR department will have to become proficient at.
The path to grow is often bumpy, but if you try to overlay your future needs with a map of the abilities and potential of your people, you will cope with change better than most.
At EM Group, we have made the most of our time during the lockdown; consulting with everyone who has requested our counsel and helping to explore their future talent requirements. The skills of today are not the skills of tomorrow. If you don’t have the right people right now, we are in a great position to help you find them.