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Building Workforce Capabilities

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My last post discussed aligning and shaping organizational culture to build a resilient workforce. It was based on this “4 Keys to Building a More Resilient Workforce” article co-authored with my Crowe colleague Lisa Roen. Within this post, I will review the third key to resiliency, which is building workforce capabilities.

Volatility is omnipresent in today’s workplace, caused by the external forces we each know well. Crises may also result from internal factors including a merger announcement, a major digital transformation, supply chain disruption, C-Suite scandal, or loss of respected leaders or influencers. Knowing that volatility and crises are unavoidable, (and may also be beneficial for businesses and individuals), how can organizations build change and resilience capabilities?

As noted in our article, employees should be allowed time for ongoing training and learning – not only to bolster their technical skills or business acumen but to improve their well-being and ability to cope with volatility and crises.

The first step is identifying the necessary or desired knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) to develop. These KSA’s may vary by level, function, role, and location, and identifying and prioritizing them can be completed formally by developing a training needs analysis based on performance appraisals and succession planning documents or completed informally through stakeholder conversations and critical events. Either method or multiple variants can create well-defined and broadly supported learning targets.

Identifying cohorts makes sense when multiple individuals have similar learning needs or expectations. Cohort-based development refers to a learning approach where individuals assemble to learn and collaborate about a specific subject related to their common role or interests.

For example, M&A leaders who build their communication skills and emotional intelligence (ex. empathy, self-management, self-awareness) are typically effective at retaining talented employees. Their learning approach could include a shared learning curriculum and assignments, group coaching, external coaching, appropriate senior leadership speakers, and peer coaching.

The second step is designing the learning plan. While plan design methods vary, they could include self-directed, peer, and event-based learning aligned to adult learning principles.

For example, 10% of the learning curriculum should be offered virtually and on-demand and include guidance and toolkits. The next 20% of the learning plan could be peer-based learning gained from team learning events, peer coaching, and after-action reviews. The remaining 70% of the learning plan could be based on experiences planning and executing the work, with lessons learned facilitated by human resources presentative, external coach, project team leader, or functional leader.

The third step is accountability. Many capabilities are caught rather than taught, so the senior leadership team must be effective role models of the necessary KSA’s. Typical accountability methods include performance evaluations, role model effectiveness recognition, and promotional and role expansion opportunities. 

Like any change initiative, creating awareness, building understanding, and increasing buy-in to ongoing capability development across the organization can build capability development momentum, and accelerate both organizational and project success.



Mark Walztoni

Managing Director | National M&A Human Capital Leader | Due Diligence & Integration – Crowe