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The Skills Development Quality Culture Connection

The Skills Development / Quality Culture Connection

by Rob Sims, UL


As we talked to Life Sciences companies last year, we kept receiving this feedback about developing a competency management program: it can be a long, arduous process.


But we also know that several companies have told us they can improve quality culture by providing development opportunities that go beyond basic "job function qualification."


This pushed us to learn more in our 2016 Benchmarking Study, which is posted on our UL Learn resource site. In our survey we asked key managers in QA, Operations and Learning & Development what their top priorities were going to be in 2017.


The top two priorities cited were “Harmonized Systems” and “Improving Quality Culture." I'll get to the "harmonized systems" priority in a bit, but I found the connection between "quality culture" and "skills development" very compelling.


We've heard several QA managers say that when production employees begin to understand both the upstream and downstream functions across the entire production cycle, they better “own” their stage of the process, and then seek continuous improvement. When a companies starts to formalize “technical” competency programs, which include a mix of education, assessment, mentoring and readiness ratings, they are better able to raise an employee’s level of potential and performance over time.


What's striking from our survey is that 40% of respondents indicated that an enterprise-wide “technical competency plan” was in place - or would be in place - during 2017. Another 26% of respondents indicated that individual departments had the ability to launch their own programs. 


When we work with clients, we provide a skills development framework that identifies the skills needed, measures the current skill "rating" of individuals, and then puts them on a path to raise that skill rating.


While this can take time, the long-term benefits include an engaged workforce, a better rating system to demonstrate impact on performance KPIs, and an improved quality culture.


Our solutions also include competency management tools that capture and track skills development within departments.


And these technologies address the need to "harmonize" both a baseline qualification, and the potential of each employee, within a single platform.


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