How to identify a skills gap in your team – and fill it effectively
Each job role has its own duties that need a particular set of skills to be carried out in the proper manner.
When hiring, these skills must be identified during the recruiting process to make sure that new employees are the right fit. However, when a skills gap forms within your current employees, it can have undue effects on a company’s productivity and future growth.
Thankfully, there are ways to identify these gaps in a way that can be beneficial to employee development and your future hiring processes. Catching them early and filling the gaps in an effective way means you’ll stay on the path to attaining your business goals. Here, we’ll show how you can identify skills gaps and properly remedy them without having to put your business on hold.
Identify your company’s objectives
Getting to the core of the skills gap involves identifying your company’s goals first. Doing so allows you to better identify what training your employees need now and in the future. It will illuminate whether it is more important to focus on technology training, customer service skills or something else entirely.
It’s important not to overlook this first step. You need to spend the requisite time and effort getting to know your business objectives as you do the training programs that will help you to accomplish them.
Break down skills based on individual jobs
Not all of your employees will be completely well-rounded in the same way; where some will have strong skills in one area, they might be lacking in another. Thus, there’s an importance in making sure you aren’t training your employees in the wrong areas, which is where identifying their skills and breaking them down can come in useful.
After this, you can identify the skills most needed for each job type. One method of helping with this is by grouping job titles together, which illustrates which employees require the same training.
Once you’ve categorised your positions, you can now move on to prioritising skills based on position level, i.e. a senior team member or supervisor would need expert-level skills, while others may only need only a basic knowledge of a particular subject or task.
Create a list of these skills and make sure managers are aware of what their team members are expected to know and how knowledgeable they are supposed to be.
Identify your employees’ skills
You’ll have to evaluate if the people in those positions are well equipped to do their jobs. Be aware that your employees don’t necessarily know what they should, and even employees who have years of experience may have skill gaps – because their job has become specialised in such a way that they don’t need certain skills.
Through assessing the most important skills needed by a person in a particular job, you’ll be in a position to conduct a Training Needs Analysis. Such an analysis involves measuring the skills against the employee’s level of existing knowledge, and how much training would be required.
These tools will help you get a better idea of what skills your workforce currently possess:
Employees can fill out an online profile or survey detailing the skills, certificates and other competencies they have.
Group discussions, assessment tests, and personal interviews can also be used depending on the size of your workforce.
Customer feedback can be used to evaluate employees to see where gaps may exist in their knowledge of your products or services.
Assessment/specialist software is particularly useful for very large workforce groups.
First-hand observation of how your employees actually work is an effective way of ensuring things are being done the way they should be. Not only can it let you see what your employees can do, but it gives you a chance to let employees know exactly what you want to be done and how.
Collect data, analyse and compare
Here you can conduct a skills gap analysis. Simply put, this is a list of the skills you require that you collated before, along with a list of the skills your employees already have. The difference between the two is the skills gap.
List the skills your workforce is lacking and what training is necessary to address these gaps. Which skills do you need to hire for? Which skills will require your staff to be trained? Which employees do you believe have shown exceptional skills and could be promoted? These are the kind of questions a skills gap analysis can help to answer. Additionally, the need for skills in the future and what can be done to prepare for them will also be made clear.
Act on the data
Now that you’ve collected your data and know where your skills gaps are, you can go about filling them in two ways: training and hiring. It’s up to you to decide which approach works best for each skill gap.
Training for skill gaps
More than half of companies train and develop their staff in order to fill open positions. If there are skills that you’d like to strengthen, such as spreadsheet knowledge or customer service, then offer up training to your employees. The right training can help you close the gap between your current and needed skill levels.
Consider using professional training firms to arrange workshops, training sessions and seminars for your staff. Along with formal training, you’ll also be able to offer:
Subscriptions, online courses and educational material
Voluntary employee mentorship programs
Opportunities to attend events and conferences
Opportunities to obtain certifications
Hiring for skill gaps
If the gaps create too much of a chasm to fill with training, then you might want to think about hiring to bring in new knowledge and skills. Consider doing the following:
Modifying your hiring process to screen for skills that your company needs. For example, you can add skills assessments like writing samples and numerical reasoning tests to better get an idea of how adept they are.
Use structured interviews, which are focused on job-related traits, to reduce biases and ensure your criteria for choosing a new hire are strictly in line with the requirements of the jobs.
Though conducting a skills gap analysis is time-consuming, the results are worth it. Knowing which skills you need to grow as a business can help you hire, and keep hold of, the people that will make your business a success.
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