I have to admit that “workforce transformation” isn’t a phrase I was familiar with, or have ever used. But it’s become one of my favorite phrases.
I just read this LinkedIn post by Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, where he talks about how 1-800 Contacts “is choosing to build their talent from within and draw from existing team members who don’t have a technology background.” He says:
“1-800 Contacts launched its CTAC University program so that its hourly associates can develop new technology skills, using Pluralsight, that will empower them to move into full-time technology roles. The success of CTAC University is showing other companies that they can not only build the talent they need from within to meet their technology strategies, but also invest in their team and their growth.”
In the comments on his post a Pluralsight employee writes, “[Pluralsight] specializes in Workforce Transformation.”
I love this!!
Workforce Transformation Is Not New
A few years ago I saw a video Pluralsight put together about the workforce transformation program at The Home Depot (I can’t find it right now). If I remember correctly it showed some Home Depot employees who started out at entry level positions and ended up in their programming or IT departments. We’re talking about the difference between a job that might pay some bills and a career that can give you a whole different lifestyle.
Years ago there was this idea that you would get a job and maybe “work your way up.” No matter where you started, if you had a strong work ethic, did the job you were hired for, where reliable, etc., you have the opportunity to progress in your career over the decades and sail off into a happy retirement.
Part of this was because of what YOU brought (ambition, smarts, work ethic, etc.) and part of it was what the company brought (opportunities, hiring from within, training programs, mentoring, etc.).
This is the core of workforce transformation.
Find Companies that Believe in Workforce Transformation
If I were to start a job search today I would have a list of target companies. This list would be created with various criteria in mind:
- location of the organization (helping me figure out commute time)
- required travel
- compensation (base salary)
- compensation (performance based potential)
- size of company
- potential for company growth
- potential for personal/professional growth
- potential for advancement within the organization
Those are a few criteria I’d look at. You might have the last two as “would be nice, but I really just need a job.” That’s okay, depending on your circumstances. Perhaps the most important thing is the base salary so you can pay your bills. But there will likely come a time in your career when you say, “I’m doing okay paying my bills. I really need to move up in my career.”
You can do that by going to school, getting certifications, changing roles, changing employers, starting a side hustle, or dozens of other ways. But what if you went to a job you really enjoyed, and were compensated well at, and they put you on a path for professional development that opened the door for you to have a different and better career?
That is what workforce transformation is, and there are companies that have that as a core benefit. As you create your target company list, make companies that demonstrate they believe in workforce transformation a priority.
Workforce Transformation Is a Focus of the Chief Learning Officer (CLO)
Years ago I was at a meeting with a CLO (Chief Learning Officer) of one of the most famous computer companies in the world. This CLO was hyper focused on finding “tomorrow’s leaders.” She talked a lot about the programs she had in place, and was refining, to identify people who would move into leadership roles as the current leadership was retiring or otherwise moving on. This entire organization’s focus was on sustaining a strong leadership team.
The CLO knew they could take their vetted talent (it wasn’t easy to even become and employee at that organization) and grow leaders. These were smart, ambitious people who were already learning about the culture, market, industry, competition, etc. Why not put them on a path of workforce transformation so they could grow from the role they were hired into to a leadership role?
When the CLO, and other executives, show they actually and really believe in workforce transformation you know you are going to be valued. They are saying, “We trust our hiring processes. We believe we really are getting exceptional talent. We want to retain that exceptional talent, which will help us be strong going into the future.”
Can you imagine how cool it would be to work at an organization that values you, and wants to invest in you and your future?
There are organizations out there that will value you, and will invest in you. Find companies that are offering things 1-800 Contacts and The Home Depot are offering to their team. Ask your friends what kind of opportunities and training their organizations offer. You might have to do some digging to find the right companies but I promise you they are out there.
Continuing Education Is a Real Thing
We’ve heard this phrase a lot. I think we kind of stink at it, though. We think continuing education means going to a conference every once in a while, or taking night classes. Really, we should be educational sponges. We should always be learning, always honing our skills, improving our craft, expanding our offering.
Whether an organization offers you the right environment or not, you need to invest in yourself. Get Pluralsight… it’s a few hundred dollars a year but it’s way, way, way less expensive than going to school. I’ve talked to people who pay thousands, even tens of thousands, to be in continuing education programs. Or, go to your local library and devour books you know you need (whether that is hard or soft skills).
Join Toastmasters. They are branded as an organization to help you be a better public speaker. But they are really an opportunity to help you become a better, more effective communicator! They help you improve self-confidence and learn to criticize and accept criticism.
Practice what you learn. It’s one thing to say, “I have all these certification!” It’s another thing to show projects or application of what you are studying.
Create a portfolio of what you are doing/learning. Trust me, as the years go on you will forget about some of the projects you’ve done and the learning you did a deep dive into. Creating this portfolio will become something of a journal to you. Imagine looking through your portfolio of years of projects and learning and using that in your job interviews! Seriously, this might be one of the best things you do for your career.
Hopefully your employer, or future employers, believe in workforce transformation. They believe in promoting from within, and creating paths for upward mobility, and facilitating training for you. But don’t wait for them to provide all of that. Create your own path forward, and work on your own professional development.
If you are interested in my soft skill courses, check out my favorite soft skill courses here. Browse through Pluralsight’s thousands of hard skill courses. Or get over to your library now, and begin this journey.
You can do this!