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“15 years ago, all you needed was a solid technical understanding. Now, soft skills are just as valuable as technical skills,” says Cisco’s Head of Virtual Sales, Paul Wittich; Businessman and academic, Bill George urges leaders to not rest in what they already know, while entrepreneurs like Ariana Huffington says, “Charging into new skills will be a win-win.” In such a complex work environment, how do HR executives and recruiting managers select candidates with the right skills?
To delve deeper into skills, let’s try to understand two kinds of employees, based on their skills:
The first kind of employees fit the category of ‘I’ shaped, while the second kind would be the ‘T’ shaped.
The T-Shaped Employee
One company that is most known for its approach of ‘T-shape’ to managing talent, is IDEO. As described by its CEO, Tim Brown, “T-shaped people have two kinds of characteristics, hence the use of the letter “T” to describe them. The vertical stroke of the “T” is a depth of skill that allows them to contribute to the creative process. The horizontal stroke of the “T” is the disposition for collaboration across disciplines.”
So what difference can having T-shaped employees make to an organization? Let’s try to understand the power of the T-shape through a successful example.
At IBM, the Designer Practices and Community team used the T-shape model as a framework to reflect on individual skills and assessment. They used it as a starting point to explore how the T-shape could take on various forms depending on the unique skill sets of individual designers.
The designers were asked to build their own Ts. At the end of the exercise, the designers mapped the skills that they had with the ones that they wanted to grow or develop. Following this, the T took off; a number of other teams in the organization followed the same exercise. How did it help the organization?
Benefits of the T-shape
The importance of building a workforce with T-shaped employees in the current landscape.
Let’s explore, broadly, the T-shaped skill sets by delving into different categories of skills. Although not comprehensive, these skills could be a generic checklist for recruiting managers to follow.
Skills that provide additional value
T-shaped workforce and sustainability
Closing the talent and skills gap is a challenge for a number of organizations. It is a challenge even for those organizations that have proper structure and workforce management programs in place. How can an organization and its HR professionals build a T-shaped workforce for sustainability?
Are you ready for a T-shaped revolution?
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