Blog Post

Optimizing skill development via performance planning techniques

Cornerstone Editors

Unlocking the pathway to organizational success involves more than individual performance — it hinges on the dynamic connection between skills development and growth. In a landscape marked by swift technological progress and evolving customer demands, the key to future-proofing organizations is cultivating the right skills.


Empowering employees to navigate these challenges seamlessly helps them surpass their goals, fostering a culture of engagement and productivity. This transformative skill advancement is the cornerstone of unparalleled success for workers and their entire organization.

According to the Cornerstone 2023 Talent Health Index Report, 41% of people believe they need more resources to develop their skills. By seamlessly integrating skill development into regular performance dialogues, businesses and employees can actively work together to achieve their goals and unlock limitless growth.

Jump-starting success with a skills program


Employees crave development and success. Organizations must offer them the right opportunities to support their learning and growth. They also want their career development to be collaborative, as those with a career-supportive manager are twice as likely to remain at their organization.

A skills program is the spark that ignites growth and organizational success, so identifying and closing skills gaps will improve individual performance, boost revenue, drive productivity and increase efficiency levels. In the face of change, employees will enhance their adaptability, agility and resilience. Additionally, nurturing their development will align with the organization's vision. Engaging and fulfilling employees ensures retention.

Laying the foundation with a skills ontology


HR leaders need clear and consistent visibility into how their talent develops their skills. With the world of work in constant flux, a lot can happen in just a month, which means that rigid, annual, compliance-based reviews no longer cut it.


Creating a dynamic and development-oriented process starts with a skills ontology. This knowledge provides a unique set of skills with defined connections to other skills or entities and enables a fluid and dynamic skills database.

As an ontology evolves, it becomes more intelligent and collects more data, so artificial intelligence (AI) is integrated to automate and scale a skills program. This optimization saves time and resources. Furthermore, it ensures the data is relevant and up-to-date to track growth and development.

Facilitating growth through collaboration


Aside from implementing a skills ontology, organizations can also introduce continuous and collaborative assessments. These opportunities foster more meaningful growth and improvement, consisting of four key components:

  • Agile goal setting creates an agile workforce. Ensure quantifiable tracking of targets and frequently revisit them to make necessary adjustments and realignments.
  • Performance conversations also need to be regular, either monthly or quarterly. These check-ins ensure that skills development remains prioritized so your employees persist in their goals. Training and development opportunities can enhance and improve underperformance.
  • 360° feedback offers a comprehensive view of an employee's successes and improvement areas. Then, you can provide targeted coaching to facilitate rapid development.
  • Tailored growth opportunities like stretch assignments and gigs will challenge and empower talent as they deploy their newfound skills.

Integrating and monitoring dynamic learning


Over the years, learning has become more interactive and personalized. It's also expanded to include experiential learning opportunities, with 82% of companies investing in this training mode. A variety of learning resources and opportunities means that employees can better acquire and retain various skills.


Performance management should intertwine skills and learning, working hand in hand. Aligning skill development with individual aspirations will better engage and motivate your people, and personalized development pathways will empower talent to own their learning and growth. Moreover, linking performance conversations to learning objectives will drive more meaningful discussions around skills development.


Weaving skills and learning into performance also means practicing active listening, asking employees far-reaching questions, conducting frequent check-ins and tracking progress. By doing so, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of employees' skills and how they and your organization, will grow.

Looking within when hiring talent


Cementing skills as the link between performance and growth means adopting an internal-first mindset when sourcing talent. 35% of employees who receive skills development opportunities advance internally, emphasizing that people want to reap the rewards of their efforts. Promotions play a significant role in empowering the workforce and driving satisfaction, engagement and retention.


Internal mobility is equally beneficial for organizations. Sourcing internal talent reduces the time and costs of external hiring and onboarding, and existing employees are already aligned with your processes, vision and culture.

Drawing from an existing talent pool also maximizes the value and potential of the workforce by encouraging internal mobility and agility. Here, the right tools are crucial. Investing in a solution like Opportunity Marketplace will streamline the internal mobility process for you and your employees. You get to retain your best talent, and your workforce feels a sense of purpose and achievement. It's a win-win!

Investing in your people


To thrive in the present, look to the future. Your people are your most valuable asset, and investing in their development and growth will pave the way for organizational success. When a company focuses on nurturing skills internally, it's like weaving together outstanding performance and endless potential.


Clear career paths within the company make employees more likely to stick around, feeling valued and motivated. Acknowledging their efforts to learn and grow with real opportunities for advancement builds an unbreakable bond. This approach saves time and resources on hiring and taps into the existing talent pool, making learning a natural part of the work culture.

To learn more about fostering workforce growth through skills and performance, download our eBook here.

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Skills as currency: Shaping the future of human capital

Blog Post

Skills as currency: Shaping the future of human capital

As we navigate the complexities and uncertainties of the 21st century, organizations are awakening to a profound truth: Enduring success isn't merely found in acquiring top talent but in nurturing and evolving the unique skills already within their workforce. Enter the era of skills ontology — a paradigm shift redefining how we perceive human capital and how we invest in people.

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