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What is an effective skills development strategy?

Published on 21 September 2022

What is an effective skills development strategy?

Too often, we look at learning and skills in siloes, focussed separately on product/ systems updates, induction, individual performance, resourcing, quality, coaching or knowledge management for instance. So how do we bring all this together? And what are the key tools and processes we need for this to happen? Start with a simple skills matrix. Consider the different competencies you require, describing the evidence of this at (typically) four levels, audit skills in your current workforce, and establish your future needs. You will need a series of plans to take you from here to there. Develop this using pyramid principles, so you have a high-level view, as a business or service, but can also drill this down to look at resource or development plans.

Resource Planning Assumptions

From a planning perspective you need to link an individual’s skills to the type of work they can handle and their efficiency (eg handling time) or effectiveness (eg customer outcomes or QA scores).

  • There are big efficiencies to be gained from economies of scale, so you need to plan resource by work type and evaluate alternative skills combinations.
  • Back-office planners have evolved good methods for looking at actual handle times (AHT) by skill. They analyse variances, to spot errors in how time is being tracked or to split out process where divergent AHTs are masked, for example.
  • In field operations, it’s about getting the job done when unexpected further tasks are needed. How can these be predicted? Or can remote support be provided?
  • In the call centre, different skills or level of competency are often masked by a supposed multi-skilling strategy, because of the need for economies of scale. Now, the growth of digital channels, and automation of simpler tasks, may cause us to re-evaluate this.
  • Another key metric is speed to competency so that this can be factored into plans following induction or upskills training. Quality & Knowledge Management This matrix needs to link up with your Quality and Customer Experience frameworks.
  • Create a process for auditing actual skills. For instance, one member of our Quality Network has created a short survey for people to assess themselves. This skill list links to the QA framework.
  • You also need to link with your Knowledge Management systems, for example to correlate use of process and call outcomes or to use the knowledge base to drive confidence and efficiency.
  • Link your knowledge base to customer experience/ outcomes and individual capabilities and levels of performance. This data could be drilled down by individuals, customer segments or products for instance, for even richer information.

Integrated development plans

Map out the experiences and interventions that can help people increase their level of skill, or cross skill into new different areas. Consider bite-size learning videos, as well as coaching or side-by-side training. This needs to contain the information needed to plan time and resource, such as time required, evidence of completion and some post-completion analysis of performance, ideally all automated and available on demand. You can now set this up so people can directly bid for time and resource to undertake the work within the agreed timescales, taking responsibility for their own development and allowing for automated microscheduling from a resource perspective. It’s important to understanding the colleague lifecycle and become agile in the face of change.

This article was first published in the 2022 Best Practice Guide - You Moment of Truth: Confident to Succeed

To download a full digital copy of the Best Practice Guide, click here

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