Lindsay LaNore: Upskilling and reskilling


By Lindsay LaNore, ICBA

The digital revolution has already transformed our working lives, but it’s only just begun. Experts predict that within a few years, digital transformation and automation will radically change the shape of the workforce. To deal with that, we need to think about upskilling and reskilling.

These two terms are key to your community bank’s development. When you upskill, you are closing skills gaps within the same job function, preparing your workforce to fill your new functional needs. Think of it as a vertical ascent. What do you need to learn to take the bank to the next level?

Reskilling is more horizontal or diagonal. What is needed to move into another job function, one you already have compatible skills with?

So, how do you decide whether to upskill or reskill, and how do you decide what is needed most so your bank can accomplish its goals moving forward? Perform a skills gap analysis. That will help your bank uncover gaps, organize training programs, understand budgetary needs for staff development and set career development goals.

Build your soft skills

Community Banker University’s online course library includes soft skills classes like Communicating Persuasively, Communicating Interpersonally, Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace, and Problem Solving in the Workplace.

The first step is to identify the skills your bank needs. This may come from managers, department heads, a cross-departmental team of leaders, the executive team or your human resources team.

Be specific in your identification of needs and prioritize your list. A list of 76 skills is certain to be overwhelming, so start with a handful and expand once you feel confident in those skills that are needed the most.

The 2020 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report found that learning and development professionals are laser focused on building soft skills. Top-ranked soft skills include creativity, problem-solving, critical reading, persuasion, agility, collaboration and emotional intelligence. Hard skills centered on data and analytics, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, UX design, digital literacy and business analysis also rank high.

Once your bank’s needs are prioritized, it’s important to rate the competency of employees for each skill, using performance reviews, skills assessments, peer feedback, surveys and interviews. Quantifying the ratings helps measure a gap. The higher the number, the more severe the gap.

Analyzing this data will help you determine whether upskilling or reskilling is needed. In many cases, it will be a combination of both. Then, you can decide where to invest your training dollars and which hiring strategies to adopt. It’s all about future-proofing your bank, but along the way, the process may put it on a path toward greater success and happier employees. And ultimately, this workforce skill-up may very well unleash greater potential in your teams.

Lindsay LaNore ( is ICBA’s group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer