Collapse traditional hierarchical structures and create roles based on skills

May 23, 2023

What is a skills-based organisation and why is it important to know how to create one?

The premise of a skills-based organisation is that there are unmined skills, experiences and knowledge within the people in your organisation already. When you uncover these skills, you can develop roles and opportunities around these skills and these people, as opposed to traditional hierarchies and role structures. If you take a skills-based approach your employees are empowered, you foster greater collaboration, greater open dialogue, more authentic conversations about interests and careers; and you are working with your employees to adapt to the changing business environment or needs at that point in time.

There are many ways that you can start building a skills-based organisation. There are a series of pragmatic steps that you can take as follows:

Consider your industry and your business objectives or strategy. Think about both technical and people skills required to be successful in your industry and organisation. Start to identify the critical skills needed to drive successful outcomes in your business. Become clear about these, test them and refine them.

Through a process of surveys, interviews, and assessments, start to evaluate your current employees for the critical skills identified and articulated above. Identify what gaps emerge through this assessment process between what skills your employees have, relative to the skills that you need.

Develop a skills framework or matrix using the critical skills outlined in the assessment, outline job families and levels of proficiency or competency required. Map employees against this framework, showing employees what career progression could look like within a skills - based organisation.

A learning organisation is one that fosters continuous learning and development in an internal or external context, in a formal, informal, on the job and in workshops, in person, online or conferences setting; continuous learning is a mindset. It says ‘Oh this is a problem we need to solve. What do I need to learn to solve it?’ Mentoring, coaching and learning should become the default within the organisation.

Move away from prescriptive job descriptions and traditional roles and titles. Design titles that reflect a skill. This will enable employees to contribute to the role based on their strengths and interests as opposed to a limiting job description.

Create teams based on complementary skillsets rather than on hierarchical or traditional reporting lines. This enables greater innovation, knowledge sharing, learning and collaboration. Applying skills across a business and departments to bring different skills and thinking to a variety of projects. This allows for greater agility and flexibility and for the transfer of skills across teams.

Consider changing your remuneration approach. Instead of paying the most to the most senior people, consider remunerating those with the skills and competencies that you wish to see more of, that your company relies upon. Reward based on mastery of the skill or competency and the ability of employees to contribute to multiple initiatives or projects and their overall impact and contribution to the organisation.

Implement skills-based performance reviews. Evaluate employees based on their demonstrated skills, their mastery and competence and on their overall contribution. Remunerate employees based on the behaviours you would like to see more of.

Create a culture that enables, emphasises and rewards collaboration and communication. Foster a culture that encourages employees to share skills, experiences, knowledge and learning; to ask questions, to ask for help. Provide access, training and practice on tools and platforms that enable knowledge sharing, collaboration and open dialogue to get to better outcomes.

Our deeply held belief at Cult of Monday is that people who are working in roles or projects where they can rely on their strengths and pursue their interests, are thriving people. Thriving people don’t feel that they have to work another day and this can have a positive impact to businesses and communities.