How to Assess and Address Skill Gaps
When your employees or departments lack the skills to accomplish essential tasks, that's what's called a skill gap. You may feel this missing link somewhere, but identifying exactly where the holes are requires a little research and data.
Here’s how you should go about assessing and addressing skill gaps within your company:
Assessing skill gaps
1) Identify essential skills
Before you can address skill gaps, take a step back. You’ll need to identify which skills are crucial to complete tasks effectively.
Start by considering external changes or industry trends that might have changed your processes. For example, many industries have introduced new technologies to make day-to-day operations more efficient. This has created a big demand for software- and program-specific skills.
Next, think about the hard or soft skills needed for every task. If something doesn't take years to master but still requires a 30-minute training session to accomplish, still consider that a skill. Note: If you’re identifying skills for a department you oversee, make sure that the department’s leadership is involved.
2) Collect employee data
Once you’ve determined which skills are most needed, take a look at coverage. Build a master scorecard and then ask your employees to rank themselves on each skill.
This shouldn’t require a lot of time or even a separate meeting. It can be done through regular employee performance evaluations, surveys, or skills assessments.
Note: Before you ask employees to rank themselves, explain the purpose of the assessment. Otherwise, they might mistake this as a performance evaluation.
3) Identify gaps
Finally, you have what you need to highlight those skill gaps.
Add your employees’ self-reported scores for each skill, then see which numbers come back lowest. A lower overall score means there’s a skill gap among the group that needs to be filled.
While data is helpful, it doesn’t always provide the full picture. Some specialized skills don’t need to exist across the whole team or department. In these cases, just ensure more than one person has been cross-trained.
Addressing skill gaps
When faced with skill gaps, there are two main ways to address or close them: by training your existing workforce or hiring for those skills. The route you choose should be determined by employee workloads and how urgently you need those skills.
Training is the most cost-effective way to close skill gaps. However, it does take time and can be disruptive if your staff already has a high workload.
If this route makes sense for your company, consider conferences, workshops, courses, and online learning programs. You can also conduct internal training. For example, If there's someone in your company currently skilled enough to do so, have them mentor others.
If your team is already overloaded, you should probably look to hire for those missing skills. Listing those specific skills on the job description will help attract the right candidates, but here are a few other tips:
- Ask targeted interview questions: During the interview, ask questions that directly test the candidates' knowledge and abilities.
- Give skills assessments: Either during the interview or prior, consider giving skills assessments to test the candidates' proficiency.
- Check references: Reach out to previous employers and colleagues to verify the candidates' skills and experiences.
- Consider on-the-job trials: Offer a trial period where the candidates can demonstrate their skills in a real-work scenario.
We know looking for candidates with specified knowledge is often a lengthy, difficult process for companies. This is especially true if you’re looking for highly skilled professionals. If you want qualified candidates quickly, consider working with The Overture Group. Our search and compensation experts would be happy to set up a meeting. Reach out!