“It’s time to stop thinking about ‘upskilling’ as simply training employees”

Gavin Sherratt, MD, Mashbo “Digitalisation, or the process of using new or emerging technology to change your business models in ways that will add and create value, is the single biggest opportunity for most organisations right now

Posted by Gavin Sherratt

Mon 17th, May

Gavin Sherratt, MD, Mashbo

 

“Digitalisation, or the process of using new or emerging technology to change your business models in ways that will add and create value, is the single biggest opportunity for most organisations right now.

 

We have workforces that have adapted to new approaches and processes countless times as we have navigated working through the pandemic. But with change we also find challenges and when it comes to digitalisation, there is a gap to be considered around skills. Younger employees may well find systems and software built using new technology easier to use. They’ve grown up with this kind of tech, whereas people of my age have spent their working lives trying to keep pace with the rate of digital change.

 

That said, the gap isn’t always about skills. In fact, the pushback employers feel when introducing systems that will change whole business models often comes because people are resistant to change, rather than being unable to use the tech itself.

 

As employers, it’s our job to convince staff that any change has purpose. That it will make their lives easier or help them to perform better. We need to stop perpetuating the myth that new tech means complex or higher-level digital skills are required and the best way to do this is getting the process of introducing new tech right.

 

You see, tech solutions, if they are implemented correctly shouldn’t be that much of an upheaval. Aside from basic ‘new product’ training that is par for the course in all areas of our lives, there should be no need to introduce anything outside of existing skill sets.

 

What is absolutely fundamental to getting new tech ‘implemented correctly’ is what employers too often miss - consultation. For so long, changes like introducing new systems or software come from the top down. We’ve selected this, now you’re using it. End users have had no say in these changes and no voice, despite being the directly affected parties.

 

Maybe it’s time to stop thinking about ‘upskilling’ as simply training employees to use what is given to them. Upskill them by taking them on the journey with you, so they understand the challenge, can see the options, and learn about the benefits from the start.

 

At Mashbo, every successful digitalisation project starts with scoping. Stopping to identify the problem that needs resolving, understanding the issues that stand and mapping out a plan that lets you unearth blockers before we even think about starting a build.

 

Pivotally, scoping involves consulting all key users and stakeholders. Including them in discussions and allowing them to shape the tech that comes in, meaning that everyone has a voice, everyone is learning - we are building the end product together.

 

Training is just one small part of digitally upskilling a business, just like digital products are only one part of digitalising your businesses. If you want your teams to be digitally skilled, you need to have an overarching and accessible digital strategy that employees are aware of and understand - not one that is confined to the brains of a few senior-level specialists.

 

It’s also important that employers don’t put the onus fully on employees to upskill themselves. Yes, encourage initiative and investment in their development, but provide structure that makes it effective, like signposting to training resources (there’s never been more free and low-cost options available) and allow time within working hours to access it.

 

Adaptability is important too, something we have all learned in the past year. Try our different approaches, review how it has worked and don’t be afraid to try something new if it doesn’t. An upskilling programme can be fluid, rather than set in stone.

 

The acceleration tech being used in the workplace may also have left another, less obvious gap. While a generation of young people have just started their careers remotely, gaining plenty of digital skills, they may also be lacking in more basic and traditional workplace skills.

 

They may feel isolated or find it harder to communicate their thoughts in meetings, they might find it difficult to reach out to colleagues for guidance as they settle in and may not fully understand the organisational structure because they’re not physically “in it”.

 

This is where we need to be empathetic in our leadership. Tech resolves many issues, but it cannot replace the human touch and we cannot forget we are dealing with individuals.

 

The narrow view taken when it comes to skills issues - particularly those pertaining to the implementation of new technology - is quite often the root of the problem. The biggest gaps are often at the highest echelons of any company, in the rooms where decisions are made.

 

The real support most companies need is ascertaining where they actually need tech to help. They need to look at their business objectives and ask what their problem is - what is holding them back in terms of productivity, efficiency, morale and profitability, and what tech is available and suitable to resolve that issue.

 

Many businesses just don’t have that skill set in their teams, or if they do, they are too blinkered by the day-to-day. They aren’t able to create the vision of what they want to achieve, without being dragged back constantly to where they are right now. That’s quite often where we step in, with fresh eyes, decades of technical insight and an approach that helps build tech from the ground up, based on the needs, concerns - and skills - of the whole workforce.”

 

Download Mashbo’s ‘Digitalise to Thrive’ report here: https://mashbo.com/downloads/DigitaliseToThrive.pdf

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“It’s time to stop thinking about ‘upskilling’ as simply training employees”

Mon 17th, May

Gavin Sherratt, MD, Mashbo “Digitalisation, or the process of using new or emerging technology to change your business models in ways that will add and create value, is the single biggest opportunity for most organisations right now

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