The current transformation taking place in the IT industry is shaking the foundations of the profession for the better. IT departments are evolving from back offices to client-facing organisations that are critical to the future of the business.
The challenge that is the Achilles heel to this transformation is a growing skills gap. According to recent research by Accenture, 55 per cent of IT workers are under pressure to develop additional skills to succeed in their current and future roles. And only 21 per cent have acquired new skills through formal, company provided training in the past five years!
It is now time for technology chiefs to build a strategy for talent management that helps their people and teams meet the new demands that are being placed on IT.
Develop a core competency mindset
The first step to addressing this skills gap is focusing on the core competencies. Technical skills are important but are only the starting point.
The IT professional of today needs professional skills. They need to be able to understand the business, listen to its needs and develop innovative solutions.
They must develop a deep understanding of the business and the drivers to propel growth. They must be adept at collaborating with others and working with teams.
From the feedback we have received from CIOs throughout Australia and the US, IT professionals need the following 12 core competencies (see image below) to stay, progress, and develop in their career.
Best practices in talent management
Once we have identified the gap and the skills that an IT professional needs today, we must now look at the practices we can put in place to address this need.
Enable career journey interactions
It all starts with communication. It is just as important to communicate the skills that are vital to your organisation ahead of time as it is to provide the mechanism to help staff develop them.
They must understand how these skills relate to the vision, values, and the company itself. The more your people understand the ‘why’, the more likely they are to embrace the transformation.
Assess core competencies
You need to understand where your organisation stands in relation to the 12 core competencies shown in the image above.
Individuals should be assessed at an individual level and then data compiled into an organisation-wide report. This will show you your organisation’s strengths and areas for improvement.
Every one of your IT professionals must have a personal understanding of their own strengths and areas for improvement. The transformation of your organisation is the sum of the individual transformations in which the individuals gain the skills and knowledge to be trusted partners and strategic advisors to the business.
Create career development plans
Support your people in the development of their career goals. By helping them to articulate their goals and then providing them with the tools, resources, and guidance to proceed toward the attainment of that vision, you will ensure their career trajectory aligns with the organisation’s transformation goals.
Referring back to their assessments in this step will allow you to not only access their current skills gap in their current role, but also to identify which skills need to be developed so that they can move into and succeed in future career roles.
Identify-organisation-wide skills gaps
From assessing your people and compiling the data, you will have an understanding of where your organisation sits in relation to the 12 core competencies. You will see overall strengths, areas to improve and overall training needs.
With the limited time and resources organisations are facing today, this will allow you to take a targeted and focused approach to addressing the most critical overall organisational needs. This analysis will allow you to see what was previously invisible and allow you the greatest return on investment when addressed.
The results from assessing, understanding and addressing skills gaps for individuals, leaders and organisation-wide can be ground-breaking for IT organisations
Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series. Lou is currently the Practice Leader for IT Culture and Talent Development at DDLS.
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