Do You Know Which Employees Should be Upskilled?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Will upskilling be one of 2020’s biggest buzzwords? Now’s the time to figure out which of your employees should be upskilled. McKinsey analysts warn that up to 40% of the current workforce will need reskilling within the next 10 years in order to help their employers thrive in the rapidly changing digital economy.

As employers automate basic tasks to improve operations, they’ll require fewer employees to work the lines in factories. They’ll be looking for employees who can manage the robots that are picking products from factory shelves. When it comes to the sales force, managers need to plan ahead, too. The interconnectedness of the CRM with other systems can allow reps to anticipate client and prospect needs, but only if they know how to efficiently use these systems.

On another front, we all know that digitization allows customers to learn much of what they want to know about sellers before they actually connect with them. Do your current sales reps have the skills they need to compete in this new world order? In the b‑to‑b ecosystem, products and services are increasingly based on complex technology. If your reps are still selling through relationship building, they could be losing out. You may need to train them to become challengers, so they can teach prospects what they need to know. All of these changes point to the need to regularly improve your employees’ skill sets.

Which Employees Should be Upskilled

You can determine who to invest in by checking the results of the sales assessment tests you had employees take during the hiring process. Jeff Mazur describes how his organization identified individuals who could be reskilled. Mazur discusses the importance of looking to self-​starters as the best candidates for upskilling. In a sales assessment test, you may notice that some of your hires scored high for showing initiative on the job. These same people may also possess a high degree of curiosity. They are likely the team members who take the time to notice how some of the finer aspects of the new CRM system work, for example.

In terms of motivational tendencies, you’ll want to review assessment scores for interest in knowledge. When an individual values knowledge, versus intuition, they’ll take the time to learn about a new system.

Time Management

Have you ever noticed how some people just naturally seem able to get a lot of things done? These folks aren’t necessarily smarter than anyone else. And they don’t necessarily work longer hours than their team members. But they do work smarter. Efficient workers may start their day with a mental review of what they plan to get done. They may even work from a list. As much as possible, these people will complete the task they started before being distracted by the next item on the list. These team members, says Mazur, are the ones who can take on an upskilling assignment without missing a beat. They will continue to perform their routine duties while learning new ones.


You can also determine a person’s willingness to learn by considering their attitude toward investment. Do they value putting in the time because they know it will pay off in the future? Or would they rather just keep things the way they are? If you’re working with a limited upskilling budget, spend your money on the team members who are curious, who manage their time well and who are willing to put in the effort to learn something new.

 Upskilling requires significant investment for an organization. If you're not sure which employees should be upskilled, review the details in this post and invest in team members who will make the effort to improve their skills. They will likely also be the employees who will increase productivity and stay loyal to you and the organization.