What are your company’s skills gaps?Monday 05 August 2019
Do your employees have the skills they need? Most managers know to keep their own skills up to date, but if they want their teams to achieve their full potential, they need to monitor, address, and invest in their employees’ skills gaps too.
The good news? Upskilling employees makes them more engaged: this year’s LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report surveyed 4,000 professionals and found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in progressing their careers, highlighting that most employees value training as well as professional and career development. Addressing an organisation’s skills gaps paves the way to growth - so where do you begin?
CREATE YOUR SCOPE
Focus your skills audit by considering the context and narrowing down the range of employee skills you will be assessing. Perhaps you’re expanding a department and need to know which skills to focus on when interviewing candidates; maybe a department is underperforming and you need to assess where the problems lie; perhaps you’re looking to widen your reach, increase output, or take on a new client, and need people with specific skills to get you there.
Use your knowledge of any other programmes, innovations, and processes that your company plans to implement in the coming months. Which skills – technical or soft – will your team need in order to support company growth and adapt to change?
IDENTIFY THE NEED
The easiest way of pinning down what skills you already have in your team – and uncovering those you don’t – is to perform a skills audit. You can do that by convening a panel made up of managers, subject matter experts, and HR experts, and conducting the audit through discussion. The more representative the panel, the fairer and more rounded view you’ll get of your organisation’s skills.
Alternatively, you could invite external consultants to assess the skills in your team, or you could conduct a series of one-on-one audits with employees. This is similar to a performance appraisal where the person is rated against a predefined skills matrix rather than their job description.
Other options include asking employees to complete skills surveys, spreadsheets or skills management software – these can make a skills gap analysis much less time-consuming, but may not give you the granular detail of other methods.
CREATE A PLAN
Having established the key strengths and weaknesses according to your scope, it’s time to prioritise the skills that will allow you to meet your business objectives, and decide how you are going to develop these skills. Relevant questions at this stage will include:
- Do my employees simply need refresher training in the skills they currently use in their daily jobs?
- Or do I need to give employees knowledge that does not currently exist in the business?
- Do these skills reside elsewhere in our business?
- Is there specific experience or know-how within our team or organisation that is not being utilised?
- Could skills gaps be filled by merging or splitting teams, or by employing more diverse team-members?
- Do we need to give employees more than one set of skills so that they can provide multiple skills in your business?
- Do we have new employees who need better initial training?
To create your skills development plan, you will also need to quantify how many employees will receive the training; if the training will be conducted in-house or externally, informally or formally; and what the cost of the envisaged training will be.
Having established your plan, you have the challenging task of implementing it – but the more you are able to encourage your team members to take ownership of this plan the more positively they are likely to respond. Skills audits cost time, money and resources, so it helps to have senior management on-side before you begin. Again, the more you can ensure your scope is in-line with business targets, goals and direction of travel, the better.
Read more about identifying the need for a personal skills plan in our recently published article.
Explore how CMI can help your company address it's skills gaps through management training.
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