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Five Steps to Skills Transformation

November 10, 2017 | By Amanda Jensen

  • Before starting a major skills development effort, organizations must conduct a great deal of planning and management
  • Skills transformation is a journey, not a destination
  • Successful skills development programs new energy and enthusiasm among employees

Few sports require as much nonathletic preparation as mountain climbing. What may appear to the untrained eye as simply a long, steep walk requires not only plenty of athletic skill, but also an enormous amount of project planning and geographic research. The intersection of food planning, route mapping, weather preparation and acquisition of required gear is an intricate science and craft on its own, the mastery of which is critical before well-trained muscles ever start powering the climber uphill.

mountain climbing

Transforming the skills of your team or organization is similarly a path that looks deceptively simple, hiding the amount of planning and preparation required to traverse it well. Mapping out skills transformation is crucial, because b-to-b marketing is evolving rapidly and requires a broad range of skills and processes to achieve positive results. To tackle this challenge, break a skill transformation effort down into five key steps:

  1. Determine the skill areas you need to transform on the basis of the organization’s goals and strategies, the size of your team, and major concerns about ability to execute. Organizations struggle to defend budget for enablement and measure enablement ROI because they don’t start with the business goals of the organization as the training focus. Consider how industry shifts and organizational strategy will affect each team, including its functions and responsibilities, before defining the needed skills. For example, results from SiriusDecisions’ 2017 Global CMO Study show that b-to-b marketing leaders’ organizational goals will require much stronger skills in marketing operations and demand creation.
  2. Conduct a customized skills gap assessment using best-in-class competencies. A skills gap assessment is a questionnaire that typically contains 35 to 50 questions derived from competency maps that ask leaders and individual contributors to assess their current skills and the importance of those skills in their organization. The value of a good assessment is that it shows each team’s real gaps in order of priority – not just a mass of problems with no starting point. It also highlights key perception differences between the team’s view of their responsibilities and skill levels and management’s view.
  3. Develop a prioritized learning curriculum mapped to the individual team member needs identified in the assessment. This is the easier part, as the data shows a clear path forward.
  4. Provide organization and team leaders with the research, tools, models, frameworks and data to accelerate substantive change across their teams. This is a major step that is often skipped – but leaders need support, too, even as their teams acquire actual skills. Engage leaders and managers at critical touchpoints along the way.
  5. Launch the entire organization into the skills transformation effort at once. This launch is critical, because it sets expectations, a shared vision and a sense of mission. Many organizations forget the importance of celebrating the investment of a skills transformation effort.

The impact of skills transformation initiatives is often startling – our clients have reported results such as 20 percent higher productivity, 35 percent higher conversion rates in demand creation and even a 500 percent increase in closed deals. The preparation may be extensive, but the results are monumental.

To learn more about skills transformation, watch our webinar “The 5 Steps to Skills Transformation.”

I’ll be hosting a #SiriusChat on Twitter next week! We’ll spend an hour asking questions about how your role and organization are affected by digital marketing, digital transformation and demand.

Amanda Jensen

Amanda Jensen is the Vice President of Learning and Production at SiriusDecisions. Amanda is focused on expanding Sirius' innovative e-learning courses and certificates. Throughout her career, Amanda has focused on innovation in digital learning, fusing her international experience with her work in technology and neuroeducation to create opportunities for people to learn, train and excel no matter where they are in the world, in their careers or in their lives. Follow Amanda on Twitter @ACMJtweets.

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