‘Multi-skilling’ a sought-after requirement in the new norm

As we all begin to consider what the ‘new normal’ looks like, one picture that appears to be forming is the importance of ‘multi-skilling’.  What is multi-skilling?   It is the ability to perform multiple jobs that require a level of expertise or technical know-how across different departments.

The benefit is the creation of an agile workforce that is able to respond nimbly and more effectively to changes both internally within the organization and external market forces. 

In a survey we deployed to middle and front-line people managers across the energy, retail and public sector we found that the ability to ‘multi-skill’ cultivates an internal culture that promotes a ‘growth-based’ mindset grounded in curiosity, flexibility and continual learning.

In times of constant change and ambiguity this ability to respond quickly and with ease is becoming a competitive advantage.   A critical factor contributing to the ability to respond with ease is promoting an unsiloed approach to work.

If you are considering, multi-skilling your workforce here are our top tips:

  • Remap up the baseline – create a general baseline of knowledge across skilled employees.  When employees have an understanding of multiple specialized disciplines the organization can rely on a core group of generalists to address a variety of issues.
  • Encourage flexibility – promote and develop ‘cross-training’ opportunities to allow individuals to ‘test and learn’ different disciplines.  Include professional development goals that encourage calculated ‘risk-taking’ to help motivate the desire to try different disciplines.
  • Reward collaboration – provide opportunities for and reward non-siloed approaches to work.  The creation of familiarity with multiple job roles is critical to the success of multi-skilling.
  • Succession plan laterally – intentionally create and allow for multiple ‘paths to the top’, to encourage non-linear forms of professional development.  This will cultivate a pipeline of ‘skilled generalists’ who are able to move both laterally and upward within the organization.

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