Do you use SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) in your organisation?

Or, are you thinking about implementing SFIA in your organisation?

Are you looking to build a high performance IT workforce?

Many organisations are aware that SFIA provides the most widely accepted description of IT and IT-related skills in the world today but did you know that SFIA can also support the introduction of a high performance IT workforce?

What is a High Performance Workforce?

In a high-performance workforce – people at every level and in every function are clear on the connections between their work and the success of the organisation. This means everyone is focused on the right priorities, they know exactly what they have to do and they are clear on their accountability for delivering the right results. They are enthused and engaged and they are in the right role to give their best. They are ready and willing to develop the necessary skills and behaviours to achieve business success.

The bottom line is – a high performance workforce gives you a significant advantage in achieving organisational success.

Building a High Performance IT Workforce

Research from the Corporate Leadership Council concludes that to build a high performance workforce – organisations need to think beyond the typical performance management system and instead include a range of organisational, managerial and individual factors.

1. Organisational Factors:

The Performance Management System – Ensure all employees understand what is expected of them, what the expected standards of performance are and how these will create organisational success. Provide feedback from multiple sources – not just from the direct manager.

A High Performance Culture – Encourage the taking of risks aligned to organisational objectives. Remove the fear of failure. Ensure good communications and allow a free flow of business performance information. Differentiate between good and poor performers.

2. Managerial Factors:

Interaction with employees – Help your people find solutions to business problems; coach them don’t tell them. Provide the resources needed by the team to be successful. Set clear and consistent expectations. Do not chop and change plans and priorities.

Formal Reviews – Emphasise the positive. Only discuss performance weaknesses when you also have specific suggestions for improving performance. Formal reviews should also discuss your employees’ long-term career aspirations.

Informal Feedback – Specific, timely, accurate, balanced feedback from a knowledgeable source is the most powerful driver of high performance.

3. Employee Factors:

Day to day work – Take time to match people to their roles. People who understand and enjoy their work perform better. Provide the big picture – explain how roles and current assignments contribute to your organisational success.

Opportunities – Provide people with opportunities which enable them to utilise their strengths. Training provided should be relevant to their assignment and their role. Timely training and on-the-job coaching provides the best learning.

How can SFIA help build a high performance IT workforce?

SFIA provides a number of features which will help you build a high performance IT workforce. It doesn’t do it all – but it can certainly help.

1. Organisational Factors:

  • By linking SFIA levels to professional role descriptions you provide a common and consistent language of what is expected from each individual
  • SFIA describes industry best practice. This greatly helps with the perception of fairness. i.e. we are asking you to perform to the level expected by your industry

2. Managerial Factors:

  • The SFIA descriptors provide an ideal format to ask for and to provide structured 360 performance feedback
  • By referring to the SFIA skill level descriptors when setting objectives for roles and assignments – managers can simply set clear and consistent objectives
  • Suggestions for performance improvement can be made very specific with the help of the SFIA skill and level descriptors to aid as examples
  • Longer term career aspirations can be enabled by looking at the full range of SFIA skill and level descriptors. It provides a great tool for opening up conversations on what career opportunities are available and what employees are interested in pursuing
  • Fair and accurate feedback is far more likely when employees, managers and peers are working to a common reference framework

3. Employee Factors:

  • SFIA provides an excellent framework to both identify and articulate employees strengths and preferences
  • SFIA provides a framework to identify the types of assignments or job opportunities which will make the most of peoples’ strengths and stretch individuals leading to higher performance
  • By using SFIA as a common reference – it is far easier to identify skills gaps against current or future roles. This in turn allows the individual and organisation to plan and schedule job-specific training and coaching which in turn drives higher performance.

What should you do next?

If you are already using SFIA to support some of your people management processes – have a look at extending its use to building a high performance IT workforce. If you are not using SFIA yet, but you are interested in building a high performance IT workforce – have a look at SFIA and the benefits it brings in managing and developing your IT workforce.

What support is there for SFIA Users?

SFIA is owned by the SFIA Foundation. SFIA is an open-source skills framework. It can be downloaded for free from the SFIA website. There is a worldwide SFIA User Forum which is a growing community of SFIA users exchanging experiences and knowledge in order to help each other implement and make the most of SFIA. The User Forum also has a broader interest in developing the capability of Business Change and IT professionals whose roles and careers are covered by the SFIA framework. SFIA users or potential users can join at theĀ SFIA Users LinkedIn Group.

Peter Leather is a specialist in developing the capability of Business Change & IT organisations and he is a recognised expert in implementing SFIA.

Do you want to know more about implementing SFIA? Are you looking for SFIA implementation support either in the UK or internationally? Follow this link to learn more about successful SFIA implementations.