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Building Future Fit Teams: Building Competencies for Industry 4.0

Future Competencies in Banking : A Case Study of three UK Banks by Fourth Talent
This case study is an excerpt from the book titled : Building Industry 4.0 Talent available through Knowledge Resources from September 2018

Through digital evolution and the advent of Industry 4.0 we see the need for employee’s competencies to evolve. Industry 4.0 demands different sets of competencies and changes to the construct of others.

To respond adequately to these demands, Banks have to identify these future competencies per job family and facilitate their development. Thus, putting added strain on already stretched Talent Management resources.

In addition, Talent Management and Career Mobility practices will need to undergo their own transformation to keep pace. As they need to shift towards becoming progressively agile enough to enable them to adapt to the increasingly fast pace dictated by Industry 4.0 and through digital evolution.
You cannot develop what you cannot identify or define. Therefore, the first step towards learning and career development for the digital future is to define those future competencies that will be critical to the Banking sector.

There are some general themes, like those identified by the World Economic Forum, such as Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Creativity, to name a few, but to develop a robust industry 4.0 talent management approach a deeper industry and job family specific view needs to be taken.

For example, in a virtual branch where an agent works alongside bots to address customer enquiries, neither Complex Problem Solving nor Critical Thinking are key future competencies. Instead, Multitasking and Emotional Labour are more critical in such a context.

This is because, Multitasking, which refers to the ability to rapidly switch between multiple tasks and remember information, whilst under pressure, allows the agent to engage with the customer and the machine simultaneously. Enabling the agent to convey key messages and emotive cues. Emotional Labour on the other hand, which is a neuroscientific concept relating to the regulation of emotions, feelings, expressions and communications, is just as critical. This is   because an individual with Strong Emotional Labour ability will be able to create a more positive customer experience, that is difficult to replicate with machines alone. Ignoring specific contextual requirements such as these could leave the virtual branch agent of the future with a critical skills mismatch. Therefore, it is imperative that we deepen our understanding and definition of future fit competencies to include contextual key predictors of future performance.
In context of this case study, our engagement commenced with the review of our client’s existing competency frameworks, which apart from competencies and behaviors, typically included a combination of skills, knowledge, practices and capabilities.

It is important to draw a distinction between these, because they require very different approaches to understanding and defining them. For example, building knowledge of Behavioral Economics or Business Acumen, for instance, requires the dissemination and absorption of information.  Developing skills such as Change Management or Coaching would require effective training. On the other hand, practices such as a Profit Mindset are instilled through procedures, systems and cultural cues, whilst behaviors such as Great Conversations require underlying interpersonal competencies, as well as a conducive culture that rewards such behaviors. In contrast capabilities, such as Innovation are generally the outcome a complex combination of knowledge, skills, competencies and behaviors.

By following a scientific method to identify the key predictors of performance, both from a theoretical and analytical perspective, and utilizing our taxonomic approach, we were able to identify the key future competencies in each job family and further distinguish them from behaviors, skills, knowledge, practices and capabilities. Each requiring specific consideration and a unique approach to development. This led to a deeper understanding of the competencies identified which enabled a more effective Learning journey to be developed.

The World Economic Forum referred to People Management as a competency that will become more prominent for leaders. Within this generic competency, we were able to identify that it is specifically the ability to establish, improve and maintain beneficial working relationships that is the critical requirement within People Management. In addition, within an agile environment this definition needs to be broadened to include the managers ability to ‘find mutually beneficial solutions which maintain integrity, trust and positive relationships among all parties.’ High Performing Teams will in addition require the competency to ‘lead a team towards achieving extraordinary results by providing a vision, strategy and goals, while leveraging each individual’s unique set of expertise.’ This is a critical prerequisite to the creation of an environment for innovation to flourish in.  People Management alone will not suffice as Industry 4.0 will demand of leaders to also become effective mentors and coaches that can provide high quality feedback that recognizes good performance and encourages improvement. This is because Management must guide group discussions to gain opinions, develop ideas and design solutions to identified problems. In addition, the ability to make highly effective judgements in complex situations under pressure will become even more critical. This will require resilience to manage complex change under pressure, whilst supporting teams towards achieving their goals. All these requirements talk to the agility of management and the ability to use new ways of managing change.

Similarly, for junior staff the ability to build trust through acute attention, incisive questioning and individual appreciation will be critical for Industry 4.0. Emotively the ability to identify, assess, control and guide emotions in oneself and others through self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills will be required. Employees will be expected to thrive in fast-paced, changing and challenging environments where it is necessary to navigate complexity without rigid work structures. This will in return require the ability to acquire, understand, remember and interpret information, which the World Economic Forum alluded to within the concept of Cognitive Flexibility. The World Economic Forum also identified Creativity and Complex Problem Solving as key future competencies. The integration of these two competencies will however be expected of employees as they will be required to source new ideas, devices or methods to solve business problems and to achieve better customer outcomes. In this environment of constant change, employees will have to learn to structure their environment to suit them and therefore need the ability to design, build and maintain these structures and networks that can channel the flow of information and tasks in a way that enables them to manage stress and perform.

Through our engagement with the three banks included in this particular case study, we saw the emergence of key themes that shaped the learning and development conversation.

Across the board, junior staff were lacking the Digital Familiarity required to cope with future demands on their roles. Therefore, improving Digital Familiarity is critical in assisting them to adapt to new tools and solutions that will increasingly become a day-to-day requirement across all job families. Compounding the problem, junior staff also lacked the level of Resilience, Adaptability and Agility required to adapt to the digital future. Relationship Management and Interpersonal Skills also needed attention, which points to a social rather than an analytical uptake of digital change.

Management, on the other hand, required much higher abilities for Collaboration and Coaching than what they showed. This was mainly due to an underlying need to further develop Emotional Intelligence, which was also identified by the World Economic Forum as a key future competence. A specific focus area was in the domains of Emotional Labour and the Resilience in dealing with Emotional Shocks that constant change might bring about.

Although we were able to identify a few critical themes, which could have informed a future skills-based learning strategy, our key finding was that there is a greater need for a Hyper-personalised learning and career management approach. Our key finding was that although there were themes shared by groups of employees the extent to which each individual would need to develop their competency and the importance of each of these competencies within their individual context differed. Hyper-personalised learning and career management provides the agility and focus needed to develop the future competencies needed by each employee, based on their unique profile in the context of the proficiency requirement of their future career.


World Economic Forum


Set of Competencies

Fourth Talent

Virtual Branch

Set of Competencies

Fourth Talent

Leader of Industry 4.0 Set of Competencies

Complex Problem Solving Multitasking People Management
Critical Thinking Emotional Labour Agility
Creativity Working Memory Coaching
People Management Customer Care Skills Judgement & Decision Making
Coordinating with Others Emotional Regulation Resilience
Emotional Intelligence Context Switching Adaptability
Judgement & Decision Making Mediation Complex Problem Solving
Service Orientation Organizational Skills Cognitive Flexibility
Negotiation Resilience Mentoring
Cognitive Flexibility Negotiation Emotional Intelligence
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