Podcast | The L&D Playbook: Becoming A Skills-Based Organisation

Gary Stringer
May 7, 2024
May 7, 2024

More than 1 billion people need to be reskilled by 2030, so adopting a skills-first L&D approach is crucial (WEF).

With ORC leading the charge and building a skills framework that’s driving development, we asked if they’d be open to sharing the playbook.

Kayshia Kruger, Director of Organization Development, answered the call and shares her process with you in this episode.

Expect to learn why skills means starting small, who needs to be involved, the power of removing friction, and much more.

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0:00 Intro to the L&D playbook, Kayshia and ORC
3:18 How and why ORC became skills-based
10:51 Stakeholders and scaling it across the business
20:53 Grow Tracks 
23:19 The 3 E Framework for ORC’s Learning Experiences
29:40 How it’s been received internally

The L&D Playbook: Becoming A Skills-Based Organisation

Why ORC wanted to become a skills-based organisation

Kayshia and the ORC team recognised that the future of work was skills-based early on, and with the World Economic Forum flagging in 2020 that 50% of employees would need to be re-skilled by 2025, it was all about being proactive.

“This shift is not only crucial for the agility and the competitiveness of an organisation, but also when you think about an employee's ability to grow and also engaging our employees.

“And when we focus on skills rather than just job titles, that's allowing us to be able to create a more flexible, dynamic organisation where our talent can be utilised and developed more effectively.”

Step 1: Start small and sensibly, it doesn’t happen overnight…

When Kayshia joined ORC, her first priority project was to overhaul their performance management processes and systems.

As part of her deep dive into the current state, she spotted that the performance review process was dated - offering the chance to test and pilot that skills focus:

“After really unravelling and undoing some of those systems and processes, I got to a point where I could pilot the integration of skills into our performance reviews.

“Which helped us have a holistic view of employee performance. So you can focus on not only what is achieved, but how it's achieved.”

This started by identifying which skills were essential to drive ORC forward, like the power skills needed at each level of the business.

“It was important for us to have power skills by job level, because there's really this foundation of skills that are important for everyone to have in their toolbox at the base level.

"And so as you advance in experience and responsibility, your skill sets become even more evolved.”

Here’s what you should do:

Define which soft or power skills are needed in your business and across the various levels.

Building a shared expectation around what success looks and how we’re getting there is a crucial step.

Step 2: Once you know the power skills, move on to the technical skills

“We also position ourselves as experts and knowledge experts in our field and in our industry… So what are the technical skills for that role?”

This involved speaking with stakeholders about important skills and performance expectations.

“Getting close to the stakeholders, we leaned heavily on focus group conversations. And like I said, those focus groups were diverse. We didn't just have senior leaders in there that were saying, alright, this is what we think.

“We had people in there that were in those roles. And that was really important to me as an organisational psychologist and OD practitioner, we look at the whole organisation, the whole system, and that includes the individuals that are doing the work.”

Here’s what you should do:

Understand the skills and knowledge needed to perform in a role, and ensure you’re involving the people closest to the problem.

From the people doing the work to those who are affected by it, and the managers leading it.

Step 3: Ensure you’ve got clarity around skills and what they mean

“We need to define them so that everyone has a clear understanding of what those expectations are and what that skill means. 

“My interpretation of effective communication or crisis management might be different than someone else's, so [it’s about] really defining them and identifying what it looks like.”

And to do that effectively, you HAVE to collaborate with other departments and stakeholders in the business. It can’t be done in a vacuum.

Include the people being impacted by the work, the people in the roles doing the work, and the managers who are managing that work.

Here’s what you should do:

Clarify what each of these skills means, with a set definition that everyone is on board with.

If we define a skill differently, it makes it more challenging for us to build it consistently and in a way that supports our growth.

Step 4: All of this led to the introduction of Grow Tracks (ORC’s career pathways)

“That comprehensive skills framework became the foundation for personalised development plans and career progression tracks,  which is what we're in the midst of releasing right now.”

This feature within Lattice, ORC’s performance management platform, is making unspoken career paths visible and actionable.

Bringing clarity around how skills are built and what’s needed or expected to build them.

“They are a structured framework around how we build clear expectations and development opportunities for progression, without implying that direct line to promotion.

“When we’re able to identify the skills needed for success and close those knowledge gaps, we can create targeted learning experiences and pathways around that.”

The next step was giving managers a tool and process to build the learning experiences that developed those skills.

Because development can be overwhelming! Yes, you know you want to build this skill, but what next? How can I go and do that effectively…

Here’s what you should do:

Build out these career and skill paths in a central place - if this is the skill or level we need to reach, how are we going to get there?

Make the invisible development paths in your business visible, and do that in a central place.

Step 5: Meet The 3 E Framework

This was ORC's approach for removing friction for managers and employees - allowing them build and own their development.

And if you’re familiar with the 70/20/10, you’ll understand ORC’s Three 3 Framework well:

  • Experiential: 70% of learning would be experiential, hands-on practice.
  • Exposure: 20% would come from social learning, shadowing, mentoring etc.
  • Education: 10% would come from formal courses, books, articles etc.

Kayshia and her team provided a suggested developmental activity list for every skill in the organisation, based on these 3 Es, ensuring skill-related learning could be easily delivered.

“Really identifying, what are experience, exposure, and educational opportunities that exist within ORC - as knowledge - that relate to that technical skill or soft skill?

“And what are the opportunities that exist within our HowNow platform that we can leverage in tailoring it to the role.

“So when a manager goes in to build an IDP, they're not relying on themselves to come up with it. They have a really great suggested developmental activity list, already built into that Grow Track, that they can just drag and drop into that development area.”

Here’s what you should do:

Remove as much friction as you can for manager and employees, when it comes to building out learning experiences.

They’re not necessarily experts in L&D or the content, so giving them building blocks to create a relevant learning experience is a key way we can facilitate learning.

What role did HowNow play?

“Our collaboration with HowNow has really been instrumental in achieving that transformation.

"It’s provided us with the tools and resources that allow us to effectively curate learning pathways around that skills architecture and the different skills gaps.”

Advice for implementing this skills playbook in your organisation

​”I would say start with a clear understanding of your skills landscape and really engage your employees in that process. 

“So that when you're building your skills map, you're inclusive of all the voices of the individuals doing the work.

“The second thing I would share is that as part of our change management strategy, it was absolutely necessary to have a growth and development philosophy document. So making sure that you clarify what development looks like at your organisation

“Even something as simple as where do we charge time to learning and development? Is that a company investment or is that a personal investment? And being really clear about that as well.”