November 29, 2022

5 Questions Every CEO Should Ask About Skills

Talent issues have typically fallen exclusively into HR’s lap. But those days are no more.

As organizations face greater talent and skills shortages — all while navigating market and economic challenges — it’s become increasingly apparent that talent issues impact every leader across every department.

Today, the global skills shortage is a business problem. And in the current market, where traditional talent acquisition solutions are falling short, developing new approaches to skills acquisition is the answer.

In a recent podcast interview, Eightfold AI President Kamal Ahluwalia shared the top five questions every CEO should ask to increase talent resiliency with a skills-based approach.

Related: Learn more about the DICK’s Sporting Goods story and how they are altering the skill mix of their workforce through reskilling opportunities to prepare their organization for any disruption. 

1. What are my employees capable of doing today?

Before any organization can move forward with skills-based talent plans, leaders must have a benchmark understanding of their current skills advantage.

While people can typically describe role requirements and past experiences needed to be successful today, it’s much more challenging to assess potential or what someone is capable of learning. But knowing what skills your people can easily acquire based on their current skill sets is equally — if not more – important than what they can do today.

CEOs and other leaders need a complete picture of skills and capabilities to make informed decisions about upskilling, reskilling, and quickly redeploying talent to meet changing market demands.

2. How can I provide a personalized growth path for everyone? 

The highest-performing organizations have a clear path for growth and advancement for their employees. Not just leadership or select team members being fast-tracked for succession. Everyone. 

An i4cp study found that 74 percent of managers in lower-performing companies resist sharing great talent with the rest of the organization. This outdated management tactic of hoarding employees has a devastating impact on employee satisfaction, which leads to turnover.

In today’s turbulent talent market, the challenge is developing talent retention strategies without engaging in talent hoarding behaviors, which requires leaders to foster personalized growth and talent mobility aligned with strategic business needs.

Organizations can scale learning and advancement based on skills adjacencies. By understanding what people can learn relatively quickly, they can grow into new roles with minimal investment and time.

Tapping into your teams' potential skills is the hottest ticket to talent transformation. Here’s what every leader should ask.

Tata Communications, a leading global telecommunications and network services company, saw an 82 percent increase in internal mobility when AI proactively matched opportunities to employee career aspirations.

Using existing talent networks cuts back on hiring and onboarding time and acquisition costs. It also helps identify the new skills needed to be more proactive in getting ahead.

3. If I have to go outside to get new talent, how do I do it with precision? 

Organizations only searching for those who’ve done the job before won’t find enough new people to fill their pipelines.

No candidate’s information should be lost after applying for a role, even if they don’t take that particular job. An intelligent talent network keeps everyone in play for every open position, including past candidates and contract workers. 

As you grow, your talent network should grow, and it should keep up with everyone’s skills as they advance. A good rule is that if you’ve been in business for a decade, the size of your talent network should be about 200 times the number of employees in your company. 

An advanced talent intelligence platform can keep everyone’s most current information on file — including new skills they’ve learned since they last talked to your talent team — and their interest and availability in continuing the conversation with your organization. 

This level of detail is only possible with deep-learning AI constantly refreshing and updating your talent database. It is the only way to provide the most accurate recommendations to fill skills gaps.

4.How do I become more diverse and inclusive? 

Hiring and promoting people based on skills and skill adjacencies — rather than arbitrary and outdated measurements of success — is one of the easiest ways to expand your talent pool of qualified, diverse candidates.

At Eightfold, we’ve been working with OneTen, an organization that finds well-paying jobs for Black Americans, no four-year degree required. By connecting companies with Black talent via an AI platform that assesses skills and potential — not educational experience — we are helping them reach their goal of finding a million career opportunities for Black talent over the next decade. 

Skills — not resumes listing past jobs — are such a good indicator of a person’s future success that Eightfold has dropped the four-year degree requirement. The new world of work is about challenging and changing age-old traditions and mindsets about talent and opening up meaningful opportunities for all.

5. How can my talent strategy keep up with my business strategy?

Whether it’s not finding enough talent or not knowing how to grow or redeploy your existing talent, these issues aren’t your talent teams’ job to fix alone.

Talent strategies support overall business goals. For example, high turnover contributes to the loss of valuable subject matter expertise and skill sets, which affects the bottom line as much as needing to be able to hire faster. Therefore, forward-thinking organizations look at talent holistically, combining insights and strategies across recruiting and talent management.

To get the whole picture — and get everyone on the same page — a single AI platform for all talent will help HR simplify their lives and free them from individual point solutions that perform one or a few functions. These short-sighted solutions put the burden of bringing all the information together on the HR teams, which often don’t have the time or technical resources to do this. 

Tapping into your teams' potential skills is the hottest ticket to talent transformation. Here’s what every leader should ask.

Better business decision-making comes down to having meaningful, actionable data. Unfortunately, with disparate sources of information, you’ll never get the complete picture of what’s happening in your organization, your industry, and the world around you. 

Keeping pace with these quickly shifting demands will be much easier with a true deep-learning AI platform. Business and talent leaders need a global dataset based on millions and billions of data points about skills and roles to be positioned to make the best internal and external talent decisions. 

Skills Are Key to Organizational Transformation

Unlocking how we understand, deploy, and use skills-based talent decision-making as a competitive advantage is one of the best moves any organization can make today.

As we continue to move into new ways of working — hybrid, remote, flexible, contingent — we need the help of technology to meet the complex demands of uncovering and tracking skills to support the organization’s goals. 

“Eightfold is leading on the whole concept of skills,” said Dr. Steve Hunt, Chief Expert of Work and Technology at SAP, in a recent podcast interview. “We’ve had skills, taxonomies, and definitions for years, but now AI is taking this knowledge and allowing us to update these things on the fly.”

“As a result, it will enable employees to get much better insight into possible career paths in real-time,” Hunt continued.

Skills are also an infinite resource you can keep building on. As people acquire new skills, they’ll be open to more challenges. And that will demand a more agile, adaptable system to track and recommend what they should do next. 

The future is all about skills — not jobs, which are evolving rapidly. Therefore, it will be more important than ever to align your agile workforce’s skills to the work at hand.

Things are changing so quickly that people are still determining what the next few years hold and what people will be doing a decade from now. But one thing will remain true — building a future-ready workforce requires a dedicated focus on skill development. 

A skills-based approach is a future-based approach — which should be something any CEO is interested in exploring to stay one step ahead.

For more on how a skills-based approach, backed by talent intelligence, can help your organization, listen to the entire conversation on The Recruitment Flex podcast.