Businesses are facing uncertain times. Between the falling pound sterling and the rising cost of overheads, many businesses of all kinds are facing existential difficulty. But the final nail in the coffin for a key majority of businesses is not market factors, but instead internal ones – specifically, issues arising from skill gaps between employees.
What Do We Mean by ‘Skill Gaps’?
The term ‘skill gap’ is a common one in HR and people management, used as a handy way in which to visualise the skill sets of individuals within a team – and, crucially, the ways in which they correlate to one another, and to other teams. This is vital to a business’ efficiency and medium-term growth strategy.
In essence, a given department is often only as effective as its weakest member. Where someone does not have the same experience with an item of software, a particular process or even a product, their lack of knowledge and experience can bottleneck an otherwise streamlined process. For example, a design department may experience a delay to the completion of an initial blueprint, owing to the additional time required by an older staff member to understand an ancillary piece of design technology.
There are instances across departments, and even between departments, where efficacy is stymied by unnecessary hold-ups and avoidable errors – many of which can be simply attributed to a gap in skill between a member of a team and their cohorts.
Assessing Skill Gaps
But how do we assess skill gaps within a team? Doing so is not necessarily as simple as singling out employees based on errors and decreased productivity; the obvious events do not tell the whole story. Instead, data analysis and active communication is used hand-in-hand to build comprehensive pictures of departmental skill levels and efficacy.
One of the more commonly found routes to assessing skill gaps in a department is through the tracking of KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. By defining what ‘success’ is for individual workers within their specific role, you can gain a better understanding of their performance within that role and their team. If a worker fails to meet their KPIs for a given period, this might illustrate the need to make changes and ensure they are upskilled.
Addressing Skill Gaps
Just as there are numerous routes to assessing skill gaps in a team, there are also different ways to address skill gaps. One of the more effective is training, as different programs can be ascribed to different teams to ensure bespoke and targeted improvement. For example, New Street Consulting Group offer leadership development programmes to bring your current or next management executives up to standard. Alternatively, performance improvement plans (or PIPs) can be used to target individual employee performance.
On a company-wide basis, it may be the collective performance of an entire team which affects the efficacy of other departments. In situations like this, the benefits of team-wide training programmes are laid bare. Whole departments can be trained in the same way, ensuring all staff members leave with the same knowledge and ideas and that skill gaps are removed entirely.