All business have skill gaps, but how do you find them? And, crucially, once you identify those gaps, what's the best next step?
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The first step to understanding where critical skills gaps exist in your business is by understanding your own business goals for the present, and the future. There’s no point taking on every single new skill and function that comes into the market. Only the ones that apply to your success should be prioritised. Experts say this can be addressed by a performance analysis conducted on your own, or by a third party, which can include:
• Identifying short to medium term goals.
• Listing the skills that will be necessary to achieve those goals.
• Interviewing each employee and creating a database of how experienced each one is with the skills you need.
Then, it comes down to performance analysis, says Richenda Vermeulen, who founded the digital strategy agency Ntegr!ty.
“This is a question our clients come to us with all the time, and one of the first things we do is a performance analysis to get a broader understanding of the overall skillsets,” she says.
“For instance, knowing how you perform digitally, where you need to grow, and where your strategy is taking you.”
Sam Bell, the general manager of corporate services and research at the Australian Institute of Management, says people analytics tools can help businesses get an understanding of where they lack skills at a company level. For instance, 360-feedback tools rely on having employees give feedback on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Starting a process like this can help develop awareness of skills gaps.
“What you get from those types of analyses are a list of top three weaknesses for each individual, and top three strengths as well,” says Bell.
“You essentially come out of that process with a development plan for each individual.”
However, Vermeulen says there is no point conducting this analysis unless a business has its own strategy in place and a vision for the future.
“Where do you need to improve and grow? You can’t know that unless you know what your strategy is,” she says.
“For instance, do you need new people? Can you upskill people? You need to have a solid understanding of the digital pulse of the business, and so you need to do that performance analysis.”
This is exactly why Vermeulen says her business conducts individual interviews with employees when doing consultancy evaluation work. The number of people with qualifications in key areas is limited, she says, “so the need to retain people is really high. You need to understand your internal conditions and then understand those skill gaps either through quantitative and qualitative analysis.”
1. Identify business goals for the short and medium term
2. Clearly list which skills will be necessary to achieve those goals e.g. data science, specific coding language or hardware knowledge, or soft skills such as people management or problem solving.
3. Conduct performance analysis both at a company and individual level to see where those skills are needed.