Specialised in working with women leaders, unabridged is a boutique leadership development practice offering professional development services including leadership coaching, mentoring services and training for individuals and organisations, both face-to-face and remotely.
We spoke to unabridged Founder and Managing Director, Palena Neale to gain an insight into how upskilling can benefit your employees and business.
First of all, please tell us about your company’s specialism.
unabridged’s area of specialism is women’s leadership coaching and training. We have particular experience in working with international development professionals and organisations, helping them to enhance their performance and leadership to achieve more personal, organisational, and social impact.
We look at pragmatic solutions to areas that women, introverts and certain cultures often find difficult. For example, identifying and communicating strengths, communicating with impact, positively influencing others, negotiating what you want and need, leading change, and exercising emotional intelligence. Women are often required to navigate additional challenges. Social and gender norms, prejudice and discrimination, bias, race, ethnicity, organisational structures, process, and practices can all influence women’s access to, and participation in, leadership. Investing in leadership development can help build skills and competencies to better navigate this journey in order to lead with more impact.
Learning is at the heart of our growth and development – personal, professional, organisational, and leadership – and underpins all coaching and mentoring interventions.
In your view, what are the key benefits to upskilling in the workplace?
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, owing to increased adoption of technology and automation. New and improved skills are consistently demanded to address global trends and adoption of new technology, and in response to challenges like the pandemic and its impacts – loss of jobs, global recession, shifting work patterns, and changing customer behaviours.
Upskilling is reported to:
- Strengthen and future-proof your workforce by developing the relevant and necessary skills to better navigate change and disruption.
- Maintain and promote flexibility, adaptability and agility within the workforce, to enable employee growth and lower hiring costs over time.
- Improve engagement, retention and workforce sustainability. Employees who feel that their employer invests in their personal development, learning and growth show higher levels of employee engagement, and they are significantly less likely to leave the company.
- Upskilling can increase productivity and provide a competitive advantage to companies who respond to change and to employees who are more marketable and open to new and different opportunities.
- Investment in upskilling and professional development builds your company’s reputation for caring about employees’ success and job satisfaction. A positive industry reputation also results in a stronger brand image, and a better company culture, making it easier to both attract and retain high quality employees.
What practices can businesses incorporate to achieve these benefits?
- It’s important that learning and development is prioritised by the senior leadership, embedded in the culture, and actively promoted and supported throughout the organisation.
- Most L&D departments collect data on workforce skills and learning needs, and have a suite of development interventions available. Working closely with them enables leaders to communicate available opportunities to staff and feed any new or upcoming skill requirements or trends to the L&D team.
- Encourage your workers to own their upskilling and support them by having regular career conversations. Explore creative ways to support new initiatives, for example, micro learning or flexible time off.
- Raise employees’ awareness of new opportunities by providing a dynamic career marketplace. Developing a talent marketplace or other online resource that promotes all the available positions, projects and stretch assignments can engage and motivate employees, as well as meet organisational needs.
- Leaders at every level need to routinely communicate the importance and value of learning. I routinely converse with clients wanting to pursue individual coaching and/or training, yet unaware of how far their company will support them. I advise clients to take responsibility for their own career development – and to begin by finding out which resources are available for them.
Have you got any experiences relating to the above?
Yes. I have a considerable amount of experience identifying learning and development needs and designing interventions to meet those needs.
I was a corporate trainer, completed PhD research, and served as an OD practitioner for over 20 years in global health organisations to improve individual, team and organisational performance. As an ICF accredited PCC-certified coach, I have worked across the globe and in different industries with hundreds of women who are eager to be and do more for themselves, their families and their communities.
I also conduct research and write extensively on leadership topics in Forbes, Psychology Today, and Harvard Business Review.
Do you have any further comments to make?
The concept of work has evolved, in terms of its importance and meaning for individuals and organisations. Although people do need to earn a living, money is not necessarily the prime motivator – especially when individuals reach a certain leadership or income level. In addition to a salary, we now expect our work to give us a sense of purpose; for the work to be meaningful and, preferably, for our work to align with our values. Therefore, the relationship we have with work is different and more profound.
Upskilling can benefit individuals and the business tremendously when development interventions are fully integrated into policies and practice, and when personal beliefs, purpose and values are shared with co-workers and aligned with organisational beliefs, mission and values.