What is a skills gap?
Inadequate staff skills is a barrier to business growth. It is essential that skill gaps are identified correctly and addressed effectively, but what exactly is a skills gap?
A skill gap is a shortfall in performance impacting on output which is predicated on an absence of either a skill or knowledge.
There are 3 steps to identifying and addressing skill gaps in your organisation:
- Identify the skill gap
- Define the skill gap
- Analyse the skill gap
1. Identifying skill gaps
A skill gap will be identified as either; a development or management issue that can effect performance and productivity of an individual or team of people.
Development issue - When there is a lack of sufficient knowledge and skill in order to perform the role, which can be resolved through training and development.
Management issue - When there are issue relating to the behaviour of an employee, which can be resolved by the manager.
A performance gap is a shortfall in performance or behaviour between what we expect and need and what we’re getting.
Whether the gap in performance has resulted in their lack of skills, and knowledge, or it is a result of their behaviours as an employee, the manager should sit down with the employee to address the situation, discuss what the performance gaps are and devise a performance improvement plan, which includes milestones, goals and what progress they should make. It’s possible that later on training and development will have a part to play in this kind of performance gap.
2. Defining skill gaps
Defined skill gaps should be based on defined outputs. To define the output ask yourself what needs improving.
Explore common performance gaps in the workplace and the underpinning knowledge and skills that can contribute to solving them.
3. Options for skills gap analysis
There are several ways you can analyse skills gaps in your organisation. Here are some of the most effective tools you can use:
Gap analysis tool
Our gap analysis tool is a great tool for determining where gaps lie and the effectiveness of your organisation’s existing management and leadership skills.
You can use a capability matrix to identify people in the department or team and define key skills or competences that are required. Assess the team in terms of experience, ability, performance and other factors relevant to the business goals in order to identify the “weaker links” in the team, meaning those you should focus on first and what is needed to bring them up to speed.
Up to date technical competency frameworks
A Technical Competency Framework is a model that broadly defines the blueprint for 'excellent' performance within an organisation.
A lot of organisations use Technical Competency Frameworks, but the danger is that they are not dynamic and might not be updated according to changing business needs. These frameworks should move and flex along with the business plan, as demands and requirements change all the time.
Using an updated framework allows the business to efficiently and accurately identify and analyse skill gaps in an ever-changing (and competitive) environment.
Controlled application systems
A controlled application system is one in which employees have to apply to get a training programme. Employees are presented with a series of questions that can be used in order to justify training.
The answers serve as a sort of a business case presented by the employee interested in the training, defining and explaining the part of the job that will be improved. This method automatically provides businesses with an evaluation system where the business can actually track improvement following the training.
A performance management system that works
To achieve an effective performance management system in your organisation there are three key things the system needs to be:
This relates to the dynamic frameworks that need to change along with the business plan. In many appraisal systems the employee appraised is marked or assessed against a range of factors. The choice and selection of these factors is crucial. These factors must reflect the current demands of the organisation upon staff and must not be a random selection of jingoistic management traits.
Typical appraisal factors are: Objectivity, Creativity, Flexibility, Leadership, Motivation, Analytical Ability and Planning.
Calibration is partially about defining what each of these factors means and partially about making sure the system is fair.
Managers should be able to clearly define good and bad and wanted from unwanted, by using a standardised model instead of a subjective rule of thumb.
Once managers have marked and assessed the people, information can be extracted to tell them where the collective performance gaps are and how they can and should progress.
Try our leadership gap analysis tool to discover skills gaps in your organisation. Receive your own report after completing the tool to help you identify the skills you need to improve performance and increase productivity.
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