One of the best things you can do to improve your team’s training schedule is to add Skill Gap analysis. This step helps the trainer identify gaps in performance and areas for additional training and development.
The first step in conducting a thorough Skill Gap analysis is to create a picture of what the ideal performance looks like. This step, called Competency Profiling, looks at the attitudes, knowledge, behaviors and specific skills needed for an individual to excel in a particular role. These competencies can be assessed as critical or core, which means that a high level of qualification is needed to succeed in the role; or preferred, which means that while not mandatory, a certain competence will help the employee to excel better.
When your benchmarking is complete and core and preferred skills are identified for the role; it’s time to measure the employee’s skill against the skills you have identified. There are a number of ways this can be accomplished, and while one of the following strategies can be effective, it is far preferable to use a combination of several so that you get a more rounded view of how the employee is doing and what he is doing. or she may have deficiencies that can be remedied with extra training and development. Evaluation techniques include:
• Performance Review – a standard performance review is typically about discussion between the employee and the supervisor for both the supervisor’s and the employee’s assessment of the employee’s skill. The review includes developing a strategy to help the employee improve his or her performance in the role.
• Interviews – interviewing employees and supervisors with open-ended questions (questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”) allows the collection of qualitative data. Interviews can also identify misconceptions regarding the role; resistant attitudes (including resistance to change and personality conflict); and other barriers to excellent performance that may not appear in a performance review.
• Surveys – mapping managers, employees and colleagues (including other managers) can help gather even more qualitative information that can be used for statistical performance analysis. Today, such studies can be designed and performed very quickly, easily and effectively online.
• Customer feedback – if it is possible to interview or investigate customers or other stakeholders, they can be an excellent source of feedback on the performance of either a group of employees or an individual.
• Performance Tests – many skills can be assessed using standardized tests to collect quantitative data (multiple choice, fill in the form, etc.) of employees’ understanding of specific competencies needed for their ability to perform them.
• Audits – this process simply creates a checklist of specific operational standards and the employee’s ability to perform in accordance with those standards is checked on the list.
Once the assessment is completed using one (or preferably several) of the above techniques, the trainer can then begin the process of closing the gaps with strategies including training (if a lack of knowledge is identified), role transfer (staff transfer or organizational change); the allocation of new resources added reward or other incentives; or improved goal setting and measurement. As in all cases where skills cannot be improved in other ways, completion may need to be considered.
Adding Skill Gap analysis to your training plan will help you identify, improve, and prioritize your training and development projects by creating a sharper picture of your team’s capabilities compared to your vision for ultimate success; but creating a completely comprehensive plan requires far more than we could fit into an article! If you are interested in using this excellent tool to work in your organization, we recommend your team Got Talent: Better Training Through Skill Gap Analysis presented on Thursday, September 16 by Kara Rice and Jana Muma of Grace Hill in Brainstorming 2010! See you there!