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Upskill and empower your engineers for a competitive advantage

Upskill and empower your engineers for a competitive advantage

To compete in today's digital product landscape, you need effective engineering teams. Therefore, it's essential to follow best practices when building these teams.

It may be tempting to focus on the hiring market and bring in top-performing candidates based on the technology-based skills on their resumes. The most productive way forward, however, is often to retrain and upskill employees so existing team members can keep up with the times.

This process of upskilling the workforce solves a few issues simultaneously, helping your organization add relevant abilities while maintaining your team's cohesion and promoting the value of collaboration. Such an approach has its own unique best practices, and it's important to grasp them.

Why focus on upskilling?

As technology trends shift and new priorities come to the fore — big data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, large language models and more — new skill gaps can arise among teams. However, it's important to remember that technology skills are often the easiest kind of abilities to learn.

Employees can become familiar with the latest technology trends through self-guided learning and independent projects, as well as through organized training sessions. Other types of proficiency, notability including interpersonal skills and domain expertise, are much more challenging to transfer and acquire this way.

If your organization already has a group of employees who work together well, it's worth keeping them together. Teams can develop a collective flow state, where their collaborative efforts provide a high level of productivity. It's not worth breaking up such a unit because of a lack of technical knowledge.

This is why upskilling is important in maintaining a successful team over time. Your employees already know the hardest abilities to learn, and supplementary skills training can impart the necessary technical updates.

Inside successful team building

What makes a truly successful engineering team? "Rock star" performers who can handle several employees' work and have in-depth knowledge of technology tools are tempting hires. However, staffing a department with these overachieving employees can do more harm than good if they're not skilled collaborators.

A star engineer who takes on more than a standard workload can warp the team dynamic, making the group's performance too dependent on themselves. The best type of employee from a productivity perspective is a "force multiplier," someone whose efforts improve their teammates' productivity.

What makes an ideal engineer in today's environment?

Upskilling allows you to select team members based on criteria other than technological background. When retaining and pursuing employees for your team, it's worth considering the factors that outweigh technical skills and specific product knowledge.

These include:

Engineering teams made up of these strong performers can deliver great results for your products. Your approach to upskilling and employee education will empower these workers with the new tech knowledge they need to keep the business competitive.

What are the best upskilling strategy options?

There are many ways to teach new abilities and level up staff, and they vary in effectiveness depending on the situation, the individual and the skill in question. When upskilling your workforce, you can guide your engineers toward methods such as:

It's worth noting that there are other methods of acquiring skills, with varying levels of effectiveness. For example, developer conferences have become less focused on in-depth tech demonstrations and, thus, less useful for learning purposes in recent years.

What are the most important technology skills to focus on?

Just as there's no one way to build a successful upskilling program, there is no definitive list of technology skills for employees to learn — by definition, new concepts are always emerging. However, in today's market, the areas most likely to deliver value include:

It's important to keep one eye on the present and the other on the future when considering the skills your engineers will need to know. For example, AI is prominent today but has room to grow. As coding tools like Copilot become better tuned to engineers' needs and companies roll out data-usage policies that acknowledge AI, the technology could become more deeply embedded in development pipelines.

How can companies support employees' development?

The way you organize and manage your company can have either an encouraging or a chilling effect on your upskilling strategy. The essential difference between companies comes from a balance between two general philosophies. While some businesses are bureaucratic, others are outcome-driven.

It's also important to note that businesses should represent themselves accurately when recruiting new employees. If your organization promises engineers freedom or autonomy, it needs to follow through — otherwise, you're at risk of suffering high turnover.

Working with experts to upskill your team

When it's time to upskill your workforce and stay competitive, a hands-on engagement with Transcenda is an ideal opportunity. Our experts embed themselves in your team, allowing your high-performing engineers to learn through their side-by-side work. The tech skills and best practices imparted during the project can stick with your business for the long term.

Getting firsthand experience with an outcome-driven culture and commitment to craftsmanship can have a lasting, positive effect. Contact Transcenda to learn more.

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