Building tomorrow – the significance of outcome-based reskilling

19th March by Karen Smart

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We have talked previously about different aspects of what makes learning and development programmes effective, but there is another element which I believe is often overlooked – an outcome-centric approach. In light of the pressing demand to reskill and upskill our workforce, it is crucial to recognise that 30 million workers will need reskilling by 2030. This underscores the importance of adopting an outcome driven focus, offering a valuable resource for L&D professionals striving to meet the growing need for enhancing the skills of our people.

Like it or not, most employers are finding themselves in a race to meet the demands of the future workplace. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2027 businesses predict that almost half (44%) of workers’ core skills will be disrupted. If organisations don’t start taking measures now to keep their people relevant, they may find themselves struggling more to ascertain the future skills their workers need in this fast-changing market.

Focusing on the outcomes of any training programme can often make the difference between failure and success. There is a need for all training to have what Professor Peter Hawkins would call a future back perspective. This is a phrase coined by him in the context of Systemic Team Coaching, but the same idea can apply when it comes to any training programme design and delivery.

It is about asking questions like where do we think we need to be in the future? What is the purpose and vision for the training? What does a successful outcome look like? Asking these questions at the outset of designing in-house training programmes can be critical in getting a better return on your training investment.

L&D practitioners and training managers must try to resist the temptation to adopt a one-size fits all mentality and instead focus their efforts on predetermined outcomes. What are the specific goals and needs of the organisation? What skills are imperative for its growth and sustainability? Answering these questions lies at the heart of a good, tailored, outcome-driven training programme.

The necessity to reskill workers is underlined by the seismic shifts in the talent market. Consider the role of middle managers, often the backbone of organisations, whose effectiveness directly impacts team dynamics and overall productivity. With the evolution of work structures and dynamics there is a growing need to empower middle managers with a diverse skill set that extends beyond traditional leadership. By planning outcomes with precision, those in the L&D function can strategically design programmes that address these specific needs.

For instance, envisage a scenario where middle managers are not only expected to lead, but also foster a culture of continued learning within their teams. An outcome-centric approach recognises this challenge and tailors reskilling or upskilling initiatives to equip managers with coaching skills. This ensures that not only are they proficient in their core responsibilities, but they also excel in developing the potential of their teams.

Consideration of the outcome is not a mere formality; it is the compass that guides the entire learning process. By setting explicit objectives, training managers provide a roadmap for learners and instil a sense of purpose. Employees are more likely to engage and invest in their own learning when they understand the direct correlation between the training and their professional growth. This alignment generates a culture of continuous learning, essential for navigating the uncertainties of the future workplace.

Another tangible example lies in the digital transformation sweeping across industries. As technology continues to reshape job roles, employees find themselves needing a new set of digital skills. Training programmes that focus on the outcome identify these digital skills gaps and meticulously plan to bridge them. The goal is not just to impact the technical knowledge but to cultivate a digital mindset, ensuring that employees can seamlessly adapt to evolving technological landscapes.

However, crafting such programmes requires more than just clarity of purpose. A coaching approach lends itself well to the success of reskilling and upskilling initiatives. Traditional training methods often focus on disseminating information, neglecting the nuanced process of skill acquisition and application. A coaching orientated methodology on the other hand prioritises the development of critical thinking, problem solving and adaptability – skills that are indispensable in today’s complex and fast paced working environment.

The coaching model revolves around personalised support and acknowledges the unique strengths and weaknesses of each learner. This individualised attention not only enhances the learning experience but also accelerates skills acquisition. Unlike conventional training that might overlook specific challenges faced by employees, a coaching approach creates a supportive environmentwhere hurdles are addressed in real time, fostering a more effective and sustainable learning curve.

Furthermore, the coaching concept encourages active participation and engagement. Rather than being passive recipients of information, learners become active contributors to their own development. This shift not only empowers individuals but also cultivates a sense of ownership over their learning journey. As a result, knowledge gained becomes more ingrained and applicable in real world scenarios, leading to a higher return on investment for the organisation.