Internal talent or development of new capacities, key strategies for the success of the construction sector
Infrastructure and construction companies recognize the importance of increasing investments in internal capacity development to face current challenges and increase their competitiveness. Alignment between program objectives and the strategic priorities of the company, the role model of senior managers and the measurement of results to assess the usefulness of the program are essential for the success of these initiatives. These are the main conclusions of the “ Building Capacity in Construction and Infrastructure Sector ” conference, an annual meeting organized by McKinsey that is included in the Global Infrastructure Initiative, a platform for knowledge and debate on future of the sector.
The conference, which, in addition to McKinsey executives, included the participation of a group of senior executives from the construction, infrastructure and energy sectors, focused on analyzing the challenges and opportunities related to the development of internal talents and the acquisition of new skills to increase the competitiveness of companies. According to McKinsey, while digitization will create between 20 and 50 million jobs worldwide, 60% of current work activities can be partially replaced by automation. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated profound structural and cultural changes within companies, highlighting the growing gaps between different sectors.
“The infrastructure sector in Spain and Portugal has not always responded to the challenges of automation and digitization at the same level as other sectors,” said Antonio de Gregorio, partner at McKinsey. “Technological upheavals are creating new opportunities for companies wishing to adapt to the environment,” he stressed.
Human capital management must be approached with the same rigor as financial management
The management of human capital was one of the main topics of the debate. According to McKinsey, the pandemic has accelerated a pre-existing need to develop new capacity in companies around the world. 78% of CEOs worldwide, 19 percentage points more than before the pandemic, recognize the need to build new capacity within companies to face current challenges and stay competitive. According to these data, companies are starting to give more and more priority to the development and the implementation of large-scale training programs allowing employees to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for the jobs of the future. In fact, according to a McKinsey global survey of more than 800 leaders in large organizations, 53% of them see in-house employee training as the best way to meet the organization’s talent needs.
Design and execution pose a significant challenge for organizations. According to Antonio de Gregorio, “In the United States alone, companies spend over $ 150 billion a year on training their employees, but only one in four training programs and the creation of new skills are considered successful. by business leaders ”.
Seminar attendees highlighted three keys to success in designing and delivering an internal training program: alignment between program objectives and the company’s strategic priorities, the role model of senior executives and the measurement of the results to assess the usefulness of said program a posteriori.
Aligning program content with the company’s strategic priorities: the ingredients for a successful internal transformation
To initiate a successful transformation, companies must first identify training gaps based on their strategic priorities. According to a McKinsey study with the participation of more than 1,200 senior business executives around the world, 61% of them felt that it was essential to link learning priorities with strategic business priorities . However, only 37% of them believed it would happen for practical purposes in their organization.
In this sense, the training manager of a company attending the conference underlined that “it is necessary to identify the critical capacities that allow the company to achieve its strategic objective and strengthen its competitive advantage. In our company, we have an Artificial Intelligence platform which allows us to analyze company profiles, to summarize all the information relevant to the employees of the cluster and to design the training program best suited to each group. In our case, we have launched two programs: one aimed at adapting skills in transformation and change management, and another linked to digitization and analytics ”.
De Gregorio pointed out that “after interviewing numerous CEOs around the world, we observed that the infrastructure sector specifically faces three major internal challenges: improving its operations and its ability to execute projects in accordance with the new standards and opportunities, increase capacity building a culture of data-driven decision-making and enhancing the leadership capabilities of employees at all levels of the organization ”.
The human resources manager of another company stressed that “it is essential that people apply what they are learning, otherwise there is a risk of dissatisfaction. We often train people regardless of their environment, we need to rethink how we apply skills in natural working environments. Companies invest many times in training programs without identifying what the company really needs or identifying the key people for the training ”.
Ensure the role model of the management team to reinforce the importance of these programs
A dominant theme of the event was the performance of the management team as a sponsor of internal training programs. A manager attending the event mentioned that “there is a need for people on the leadership team who truly believe in these programs and demonstrate this by attending or facilitating one of these sessions to collect first-hand feedback and be able to provide feedback to recalibrate and continually improve content and format, and thus increase its impact ”.
According to the McKinsey study cited above, the two most relevant roles that directly involve the management team in a training program were to support and encourage the participation of their teams, as well as to create opportunities in their teams. teams to practice and use the frequency of learned skills (perceived as important by 59% and 58% of participants, respectively). When asked about the reality of their business, senior executives said 64% of the opportunities they encourage employee participation, but on the contrary only 40% said they created opportunities for the application of these skills. .
Measuring results in infrastructure and construction companies
Finally, participants agreed that one of the biggest challenges of these programs is measuring their real impact, beyond simple indicators of session participation. According to an adviser of an infrastructure company, “the culture of industrial enterprises, due to the large number of engineers on the staff, requires a need to track and measure the results of said capacity building processes”. Another of the managers present underlined “the difficulty of showing, monetizing and seeing the results of said program to justify its impact, and therefore justify scaling up to other areas of the company”.