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Rajeeb Dey



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Four reasons why you should train your people out of their job title


We know that for today’s employees, the chance to learn and develop skills is becoming the most important factor in choosing a job. In fact, it’s been estimated that almost a third of employees think their skills are redundant now or will be in the next 1-2 years.

So it’s no wonder that a report by Manpower Group, of 19,000 working millennials across 25 countries, found that 80% rated the opportunity to learn new skills as a primary factor in considering a new job and 93% would spend their own time and resources on further training.

We are working in an age of continuous reinvention, where learning and developing new skills is as important as getting to the next rung of the corporate ladder and securing a new job title.

What’s more, there are more opportunities than ever before for people to learn, with content, classes and courses available at the touch of a button. Today, it is the pace and breadth of learning that employers need to keep on top of and, more so, embrace.

But what happens when the skills employees want to learn don’t fit with their job description, or have an obvious benefit to your business? What if a designer wants to learn about data science, or an Operations Manager wants to get to grips with coding.

This poses a challenge. Some employers may find the prospect of training an employee for a job that doesn’t exist yet, or a role that isn’t core to the businesses objectives, a scary notion.

How do you know your investment is going to demonstrate ROI? What if you’re simply training someone up to leave your company for a different job?

My advice? Worry less, and trust your people more – turn this challenge into an opportunity and let your employees train outside of their job titles. Here’s four reasons why:

1. It will help you futureproof your business

Consider that the average skills shelf life is just five years, and an employer can’t possibly know what skills their business will require in the future.

By broadening the skill sets of your people you will develop a workforce that thinks laterally, that can draw on much broader insights and can approach problems from different perspectives. And that might give you a competitive edge.

Employees who train outside their own job title and skill sets may well gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of how other people in the business work.

The flip side to this is that if you restrict your people and only encourage narrow approaches to learning, you may end up losing them to more progressive companies.

In a recent survey, 55% of employees said they would move to another job if they felt their current employer was not doing enough to keep their skills current.

2. Your employees will thrive

Employees learn better when they have autonomy over their own development and when they are challenged along a steep learning curve.

A bottom-up approach will allow people to develop the skills they feel would be most valuable and motivates them to progress on their own terms. This attitude will not only breed greater loyalty but will lead to a more diversely skilled and capable workforce than you might have imagined.

3. It will breed empathy and cohesive working

Employees who train outside their own job title and skill sets may well gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of how other people in the business work.

The future of work is far from certain and who knows what a person’s job might require of them in the future.

A designer who understands data science may well be able to work more closely with the data team to develop the best visual representation, and a communications person who understands coding will be able to have a deeper, more meaningful discussion about planning a digital project.

 4. It will help you understand your people

Giving your people freedom, and working closely with them on their development, can unlock new insights into how they see their own training and development.

By allowing your employee freedom to select their own areas for development you can see where they want to be in the future and then you can help them get there, offering them support and guiding them to a future that satisfies them and your business needs.

Of course, offering employees the freedom to develop technical skills that at first seem tangential to their main job role might feel like a waste of investment or time, but the future of work is far from certain and who knows what their job might require of them in the future.

Instead of saying “what does this person need to become better at their job?”, consider what that person needs to become more broadly skilled and valuable to the business as a whole.

The Global CEO of The Boston Consulting Group, Richard Lesser, recently commented that: “The future of work is not predetermined….It is in our hands to proactively manage the changes underway and build the kind of future that maximizes opportunities for people to fulfil their potential across their entire lifetimes.”

So why not find experts from within your business, build out new capabilities with the team you already have and see how your employees flourish in the meantime.

Because when you begin to look at each employee’s development in regards to their career, not just their job title, you are starting to build a team ready to face the future.



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