Multi-Skilling: The Perfect Match for Companies

18 de November de 2021
4 min

Multi-Skilling: The Perfect Match for Companies

The concept of multi-skilling refers to the set of skills, knowledge, experiences, and aptitudes that enable a person to perform different jobs or roles within their company.

Why we want it in our company

We are accustomed to a labor market where the trend towards hyper-specialization is the order of the day. A career, a master’s degree or a postgraduate degree, and several courses to perform that small parcel within what would be our job role. This type of knowledge falls within what is called hard skills or specific technical knowledge to carry out such work.

On the other hand, the concept of soft skills is also starting to resonate, which, conversely, refers to a series of competencies and characteristics in relation to personality and both intrapersonal and interpersonal traits of a worker. Intrapersonal traits refer to the relationship with oneself, how much one knows oneself, and how one regulates oneself. Interpersonal, to everything that has to do with the relationship with others.

Within this soft skills/hard skills dichotomy, multi-skilling refers to both technical concepts and those “personality” skills, facilitating the development of different positions and roles within a company. Therefore, it increases what we know as the “human value” of the organization.

Human value in a globalized environment like ours is starting to be a must-have. With increasingly specialized profiles, jobs or roles that did not exist a few years ago but simultaneously a growing trend to focus on the human and its needs, multi-skilling is posed as a very attractive option to foster among employees. Thus, it begins to position itself at the top of the list when attracting new talents.

Two great benefits of attracting people with these characteristics to our organization, or fostering them among employees, are:

Increased productivity and efficiency: since an organization where a person can carry out various tasks, streamlining and energizing the work flow and achieving more goals in less time, will always be more productive. Of course, without this agility affecting the quality of work.

Exponential growth: both for the company and the employee, since it allows for the expansion of work areas, products offered, or the company’s action plans when we do not focus on a single skill or specialization. On a personal level, it is a very good opportunity for the employee to undergo a training and development process within the company, increasing engagement and satisfaction levels towards the entity.

Imagine a brain. Simplifying the issue a lot, a brain is composed of neurons connected to each other. Imagine now that each of those neurons is extremely good at processing only a tiny part of information in great detail. It does not know how to communicate with other neurons nor adapt its nature to process different signals if necessary. Would this brain be functional and useful?

How is multi-skilling achieved?

It’s important to remember that, like all learning, we’ll need to plan the objectives we want to achieve when training our employees in different skills. These objectives must be measurable, referring to operable, evaluable behaviors.

In relation to multi-skills, this translates into teaching everything from knowledge to values and skills that allow the employee to increase their capacity to take on more tasks and roles than strictly related to their job position.

According to Guy le Boterf, an expert in competency management and internationally known, acquiring a new competency depends on these three fundamental components:

Knowing how to act: includes the more technical knowledge related to the competency to be acquired. Theoretical training and more cognitive skills.

Wanting to act: related to the motivational component and is closely linked to the worker’s perception of their competencies and the feedback received.

Being able to act: related to personal characteristics that, together with technical knowledge, are a decisive and differential factor when distinguishing oneself from the rest. Specifically, they would be the last link in multi-skilling.

Once these three factors are clear, the ideal is to develop a list of competencies to be acquired for those worker profiles we believe could comfortably move in multi-skilling. Thus, we will have a kind of “matrix” where we can cross and compare that person’s competencies at each of those levels, and the objectives to achieve new skills and competencies in knowing how to act, wanting to act, and being able to act.

Multi-skilling is a very interesting concept given the current context. It values human capital, functions as a talent attractor in a company, and generates more human organizations where, in addition to a title and knowledge, the personal characteristics of the employee are leveraged.