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  • Chris

Mind The Gap

As every organisation in the world starts to 'right size' there are going to be inevitable gaps in skills and behaviours. It's near on impossible to completely understand how the world of work will change as a result of what's happened. Enforced change has impacted how we work, many have reconsidered their whole approach to life including their work. Changing personal priorities, a self assessment of what is important to each of us and the discovery that 'the way it was' has survived many fast paced changes, have all meant our outlook is probably very different to our views at the beginning of the year.

With changing priorities, comes a new set of challenges. As companies start to assess future performance and people requirements we are faced with an age old conundrum - the skills gap. Skills mapping has never been more important. For anyone new to that term, it's the process of assessing and recording the breadth of skills available to the company from their people. The 'hard' skills required to perform in a role effectively are relatively easy to assess. Where it gets harder is the 'soft' capability. Those people skills that are the mark of good leadership and are so often overlooked when technical skills are the priority. Added complexity arrives on your doorstep with the uncertainty of which skills will be important as we journey through to recovery. What might be considered essential now, may not be considered in the same way in the future. The future of work looks very different and will most likely differ in ways we haven't even thought of yet so skills mapping is not a one-off activity.

When you start to look at skills mapping, you will need to be able to answer these questions:

1. Is every job you need to run your organisation effectively on the list?

Rightsizing doesn't always mean a reduction in headcount - sometimes it's a reallocation of that headcount to different jobs.

2. Do the employees in those positions have the skills needed to do the job effectively?

If they do, great. If they don't, what plan is needed to close that gap? Have you sense checked the skills to make sure your mapping is future-fit?

3. Do people need the training you've identified or is the skill available elsewhere?

Where budgets are tight, you will need to qualify those training requests and if the skills are available elsewhere, will that influence your decisions on 'right sizing'?

4. How mobile are your workforce (in terms of location and ability/willingness to move)?

Where you identify gaps in one area, you may be able to transfer that knowledge from another area of the business.

5. Does the organisation see the value in the skills map?

Financial performance is tracked through balance sheets, performance trackers, dashboards - all reflecting the importance of the metric. Human capital is no different - it is a key performance measure of any organisation and having your 'skills balance sheet' should be no more unusual than tracking your financial performance.

So you've mapped out the skills and identified the gaps. How do you then evaluate the need for any training that is to be introduced? It's important to remember that what your people are telling you they need and want might not be required by the job they perform. Language training is a great example. I remember being Head of L&D for a wonderful company and learning a language was always a popular request. We were serving an international travelling customer base but I still had to assess the relevance for the actual job and often the requirement was lacking. As it turned out, we introduced it anyway and the take-up was initially quite good. The completion was a failure. Lesson learned.

I'm not even mentioning the request for flower arranging...

The most popular courses this year, reported by LinkedIn Learning are:

  1. Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals

  2. Excel 2013 Essential Training

  3. Communication Tips

  4. Excel Tips Weekly

  5. Communication Fundamentals

Only two of the top five are considered 'soft' and yet it is the soft skills that are often the biggest gap in an organisation. The requests from your people may not measure up to what your organisation needs to enable everyone to thrive. Flower arranging isn't even on the list (!)

Training needs to reduce skills gaps between the current level and what is required. By analysing gaps precisely and setting expectations and needs with skills mapping, you will be able to focus your budget on what is needed, not what is wanted.

You can further optimise your training opportunities by grouping skills together, not by department, by level or by job role. It will take more skilled facilitation but give you a much better return for your investment.

Effective skills mapping will help you be future-fit as you right size your organisation.

When you need help, you know where we are. In case you're still looking... we are www.acceler8training.co.uk

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