Instead of trying to hire outside talent to fill the need for new skills, HR leaders should focus on upskilling the current workforce to prepare for current and future disruption.
Upskilling creates a mutually beneficial relationship. Expanding internal skill sets not only helps companies quickly adapt to change, but it also gives employees new areas of expertise they can use to further their careers.
Competency Versus Skills: Why It Matters
For organisations, getting to grips with the skills they have at their disposal is one thing, but having insights into the level of competency within their workforce is another level. Often used interchangeably, “competency” and “skill” are not the same, and for HR, having the ability to understand how good the workforce is across multiple skill sets is hugely important.
Etiévant explains Michelin’s approach. “Knowing a person's skills allows us to determine their propensity to carry out an activity and gives us the ‘what,’ but what about the how? Ability doesn't give you the how. This is where competencies come into play because they frame aptitude in a professional environment. They allow us to see how people really do things, what behaviours they will demonstrate, and the quality of what they do. And that's why there is a progression in the competencies. At Michelin, we have levels from 1 to 5 that show the progression and therefore the difference between the what and the how.”
New Skills and the Co-Construction of the Career Path
Having the right tools and data to identify skills gaps is one thing, but helping employees take responsibility for their career development is another. Many organisations, including Michelin, believe in empowering their workforce and “co-constructing” the career path—that is to say, both parties take responsibility for identifying areas for new skills development and ensuring those are achieved.
“If you want to prepare yourself for tomorrow, you have to spend the time today. And once people commit to improving their skills, they are very happy because they realise the benefits,” Etiévant says. “I agree with the idea of co-construction and being an actor in one's own development, but, in fact, it's a two-way street. There is the actor, but there is also the manager, who must pull the teams upwards, and a third actor who is the local development partner of the HR world. All these actors working together allow this new evolution, and I hope that this enables the flourishing of the skills we all need for the future.”