Johanna recently wrote a great blog post The Fourth Industrial Revolution. He highlights how various factors are pressuring us to reconstruct our thinking in terms of work, career and learning. One of the aspects we think a lot about in Spotify is the repetitive feedback that we see across the HR industry that many employees don’t know how to improve their skills or build their careers. They fight to identify what it will take to change their careers or to get better, faster and more effective in their current roles.
The more important this 4th industrial revolution becomes, the more important it will become. Instead of focusing on a linear career, people need to know how to develop their skills.
So how does the HR team set up for their success?
Is autonomy enough?
One response to HR teams like us at Spotify is to pay double attention to creating an environment of ownership and autonomy, so that employees can drive their development. Establishing a proper learning culture and managing expectations is really important. At Spotify, we rely on a growth mentality (which we believe is inspired by the desire to develop Spotifiers), and autonomy and competence are key issues in our culture. Working with businesses to build career structures and other best practices like coaching, mentorship, training and development discussions are very good, and we’re not saying we should throw them out the window; However, we need to do more to help our managers and employees.
At Spotify HR, we’re trying to go beyond the general response, and we think we can put more thought and effort into both scaling and personalization programs so that more people can benefit and add more to the employee experience.
An added bonus is that each spotter helps them develop their career. Employable, and they don’t get stuck on their time on Spotify – without it we can’t be an attractive employer. In addition, a business that is constantly evolving contributes to career development on a personal level. Ability to do business Stay relevant and fuel innovation.
What are the challenges?
One of the biggest challenges is the nature of our role as HR. As part of an HR function, you are accustomed to thinking in terms of leadership (even if you are not a people manager). In addition, our closest partners (senior business leaders) are also deeply involved in leadership and management. This means that we can easily lose our audience – employees.
There are several patterns of behavior that we see that rely heavily on experience over skills. A big mindset change is needed to challenge these assumptions and be much more helpful to individuals and their careers.
Here are the top four Spotify tips to change your mindset:
1. Don’t assume people know their own skill set
Skills are difficult to define and it is rare for anyone to have a complete palette of skills for their current role (if not unprecedented). The majority of people know a few things about their skills and abilities (probably through the feedback they’ve had in the past, or like psychometric tests), but let’s be honest, most people haven’t fully defined their skill set, or put a lot of conscious thought into their motivation. Encouraged by what they recognize to be good, most people have unknown blind spots in their own set of skills.
In fact, when it comes to developing a skill set, many people will naturally focus on one area rather than a specific skill. For example, if a person aims to be better at influencing, they should adapt to their audience’s understanding, written and verbal communication, improve their storytelling, and work on their skills and work on what is involved. Instinct is to focus on improving the skills to ‘influence’ for them, when in fact it is a family of skills that should be focused on.
All of these aspects that are common misunderstandings of skills are important because it leads to a fundamental lack of understanding of the differences between a skill and a qualification, and therefore makes it difficult for anyone to identify a development area that will help them in their next role, or Increase to the next stage of their personal career path.
2. Help managers put personal growth first
Managers are supposed to help staff navigate and coach, and while some do it really well, there are an unsettled number of people who aren’t able to help at all. The skill of a leader to keep himself away from himself is that everyone on his team wants to follow the same career path as them. In addition, subconsciously they probably have an agenda to make sure the person is on the team because they want that person’s skill set.
It is also true that managers are often not content experts and therefore have less knowledge about the specific skill set required. Not to mention that it is impossible for a manager to have a complete picture of all the opportunities in the company. Therefore, if a team member relies solely on their manager to build their career path for them, their vision of what might happen in the future is limited.
There is a big risk that feedback from managers is biased towards the way they want to work, rather than focusing on output and necessary skills. And of course, managers with deadlines are more likely to prioritize the skills they need at the present time. It is understandable that they have a difficult time developing skills and careers with each team member in mind, and it is difficult for them to help an individual prioritize developing a skill, especially for long-term value addition. It is normal for a less experienced manager to feel the internal conflicts around them. They probably know that helping people develop their skills in the long run is good for both individuals and businesses, but they are also doing their job if they focus on their current roadmap and commitments to deliveries. It’s a tug-of-war, and it’s quite detrimental to career development if ‘here and now’ always wins this battle.
3. Realize the limitations of the structure
The carrier structure, or ladder, is usually cement that believes there is only one way instead of looking at lateral growth and development. These are general, and more applicable to the public rather than personalized. There is no failure in a situation where the skills of a team member fit outside the frame within which they are currently placed, meaning that the employee is entirely on their own to discover and map those skills.
The company usually has development talk tools to support the current structure and preferred behavior, which is great. But since we want a tool that works for everyone they tend to be very general in terms of the set of skills that make each person’s experience vague. The tool itself can become a blocker against focusing on important skill sets for each person.
4. Adjust your talent sourcing to find skill sets
Dition typically, at the time of recruitment, encourages HR managers to identify the work needed to do their job and then determine the skills required for that particular role. But to be honest, we often get smaller because most job ads focus sincerely on similar experiences in the same role (and usually in the same company), and don’t actually focus on the skill set. This is a similar case when you are sourcing talent for an enterprise or project that is not a full-time role. People will lean towards their network, and therefore the search will focus on candidates who have gained visibility in a similar role before rather than their skill set.
Looking for experience is not a bad thing, but we should encourage candidates (and employers and managers to listen to them) to see how they can apply their existing skill sets to new roles and develop further.
Does having a distributed workforce help or hinder?
Covid-1 has expedited remote work last year under restrictions. More companies prefer their employees to work remotely, as they have now seen that productivity does not decrease and distributed work can work.
Where companies get this right, each person’s output is more important than how their work goes. It reduces our natural inclination to do more with those we identify with, or the way we work. So there has already been a shift towards the ability to play a more central role, which is remarkable. However, without some conscious effort, it does not solve for human development. In a virtual setting the company feels more remote and complex for employees. With remote staff, networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities that previously had lunch or coffee with someone from another department are lost. Or of course not easily replicated.
Focus on bees
At Spotify we have given a lot of thought to how we can enhance a meaningful part of the employee experience career and we know that even though our foundation is in the right place, we need to challenge some of our assumptions and focus more on people rather than structure. One way we think we can do that is by creating a kind of talent market that we see as a beehive that employees can fly to. Here they will be able to build their own part of the hive, but also contribute to something bigger than themselves. Our goal is that spotters spend more time and energy being part of the bee than staring at the stairs so they’re not sure they want to climb anyway. A bee focus will help create their own personalized carrier support network, in the big picture.
If we are to make progress in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to further improve our growth mentality approach and expand our career growth tools. We need to rebuild the way we think about investing in our careers and learning. A good start for us at HR to talk about skills, instead of just focusing on whether a candidate has played a role before or similar.
We must look beyond experience, injecting more far-sighted behavior throughout the process, allowing candidates to feel comfortable presenting how they can develop and recruiting managers and employers to imagine how a current skill set can add more value in the future. Can
There is no magic solution and it is not a marathon and a sprint. But at Spotify, we want to help our employees more in their development, we want to focus on the output of managers and be better acquainted with the need for skills than the need for experience, and basically we want to add value to the business through career democratization. Therefore, we are warming ourselves up and soon we will start running. Will you join?
My HR playlist
Some articles and podcasts that stimulate thinking through different angles of a new approach: