Skip to content

5 Ways to Build a Successful Skills-Based Organization

As the way work is done shifts rapidly, the way people are hired, promoted, and assigned to roles within organizations is starting to shift as well. Instead of focusing on degrees and years of experience to the exclusion of everything else, skills-based hiring is becoming more common. 

What is skills-based hiring? It’s a system of organizing your talent management around the skills people have, instead of their experience or degrees alone. (Read more in-depth information about skills-based hiring and why it matters.)

For example, if you were hiring for a new marketing director, you wouldn’t just consider people who had a decade of experience or an advanced degree — you would also look at people with the leadership skills, creative thinking, and customer-focused mindset to succeed. And skills-based organizations are powerful — they’re 107% more likely to place talent effectively, and 98% more likely to retain top talent. 

But building a truly skills-focused organization isn’t simply a matter of declaring that you are one now. The transition takes time and strategic planning. Here are five steps you should consider taking when creating a skills-based organization. 

1. Focus on Growth and Development

To truly build a skills-based organization, your top priority for the entire employee lifecycle must be growing and developing every employee. This means from the time you begin the hiring process through to the first weeks on the job and a decade into it as well, you should be considering how to help each person grow their skills and develop their careers. 

Skills-based organizations must be very proactive about development instead of letting individual managers drive it. That can mean creating a fair, organized framework for promotions, building a strong L&D arm of your HR team, adding in benefits like tuition reimbursement, and offering all kinds of career development opportunities like lateral moves and rotations. 

2. Understand Skill Gaps

You also should look carefully and strategically at the skills gaps that exist in your organization as you move towards a skills-based model — not just what you lack today, but what skills will be needed in the future that you don’t have yet in your employee base. These skills should include not only hard skills like specific kinds of technical knowledge, but also soft skills like willingness to learn new technology and problem-solving ability. 

Then you can develop a plan to hire for these skills, and to train your current employees in them as well, to future-proof your organization. 

3. Make Upskilling a Priority

And that plan should include a robust upskilling strategy, plus potentially re-skilling any employees whose hard skills won’t be needed in the future. 

For example, if you have a pool of employees who perform work like proofreading or data entry, which are increasingly able to be performed by AI, you can begin re-skilling them according to their existing soft skills. Anyone with excellent organizational skills and an eye for creative work could be trained to become a project manager for your marketing and communications teams, while employees who love to work alone and thrive on solving problems could be trained as IT team members. 

4. Provide Feedback Regularly

To know where they need to go in the future, employees need to receive timely and accurate feedback today. That will help them identify their own individual skills gaps and figure out what skills they already possess, and help them think long-term about their potential career path in terms of skills, not just roles. 

Training managers to provide this kind of clear and forward-thinking feedback and help employees chart a career path in a skill-based organization is essential, because career development no longer looks like a small straight ladder to climb but a variety of potential paths to take according to hard and soft skills. 

5. Lean on Technology and Tools/Resources

If all of these steps seem a bit overwhelming, there’s good news — today’s HR technology can make creating a skills-based organization much easier. The right tools can help you look at the skills your employees currently possess across your organization, assess how they fit together, and even suggest upskilling ideas and career development plans for each individual employee. 

Cangrade’s features like Skills Assessments, Workforce Development, and our solutions for employee mobility are all here to help you create a skills-based organization today. They are the first steps to building an organization that’s ready to thrive, no matter what the future brings.