How to Assess Your Current Skills Level
and Identify Knowledge Gaps
In almost any role, within any team or business department, skills and knowledge gaps are an inevitability. However, for organisations and their managers, it is important to identify where these gaps exist and to take steps to fill them.
This may, for instance, require investment in a high-quality customer service training programme for customer-facing personnel, or an online project management course for the leader of a project.
Nevertheless, it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin, or how to go about identifying skills gaps. In this article, we explore techniques like carrying out a skills gaps analysis, and establish some of the ways you can gauge your own current skills and knowledge levels, in order to find and fix the shortcomings that exist.
1. Identify Your Own Skills and Knowledge Gaps
When assessing skills and knowledge gaps, the first step should be to focus inwards and establish where gaps exist in your own knowledge.
Even if you are in a senior role - such as a team manager, project manager, or business analyst position - and have been in the role for several years, it is likely that you will have significant gaps. After all, industries constantly evolve, and new skills and knowledge are constantly needed.
Skills and knowledge gaps are especially likely if you have had little in the way of formal education for your current role. For example, many sales managers find themselves promoted from sales rep positions, but do not necessarily receive formal management training, while many project managers may not have taken either an offline or online project management course in years, leading to an out-of-date knowledge base.
There are several ways to conduct a skills gap analysis on yourself, but one of the easiest and fastest methods is to use a simple online assessment tool. Carrying out this kind of personal assessment will allow you to precisely establish what your strengths and weaknesses are, putting you in a much better position to address the weaknesses.
Your choice of online assessment tool will depend on the nature of your current role. A range of different assessments can be found online including, for examples, tests of your interpersonal skills, leadership skills, team management skills, decision making skills and project management skills.
2. Take Steps to Improve Your Skills and Knowledge
Next, you need to take the time to invest in your own workplace education and take action to plug as many of your skills and knowledge gaps as you can.
The precise steps you take here will depend on the nature of your role and the industry you work in, but it will often be sensible to invest in formal certification.
To provide an example, if you are a project manager, or otherwise work in the project management office, or PMO office for short, it may be sensible to commit to PMP certification training, as this is the most prestigious and globally recognised certification in the field. It stands to reason, therefore, that this kind of prestigious certification will provide you with a rounded education and plug many of your knowledge gaps.
There will be similar courses or qualifications in other industries too, so take the time to carry out research and identify a training or education programme that cover the topics you identified in your skills gap analysis, or cover as wide a range of different skills as possible, so that your education is comprehensive.
3. Carry Out a Skills Gap Analysis For Your Team
Aside from fixing your own knowledge gaps, it is important that you adopt a holistic approach and think about your wider team and the deficiencies that exist - especially if these are likely to prevent you from achieving your business goals.
Again, there are a number of possible ways to go about doing this.
In general, skills gap analyses can be carried out on either an individual or team basis. An individual analysis will generally be carried out by you, or someone else with team leader status. Essentially, it involves identifying the skills needed for the job and then comparing them with the skills each individual employee possesses.
"HR can initiate team and company-wide skills gap analyses by holding a meeting with managers to explain the process," says Nikoletta Bika, in an article written for Workable. "It can also be a good idea to hire an external consultant to conduct a skills gap analysis. [This] can make the process more objective and will free up staff time."
4. Provide the Right Kinds of Skills Training
Finally, once you have identified the skills and knowledge gaps that exist within your team, you need to make an effort to address them.
In the vast majority of cases, this is going to require you to invest time and money into training, but there are a number of different options available to you for actually delivering this.
Depending on how many people require training in the same area, it may be advisable to arrange for some classroom style learning sessions. However, if you are instead addressing the skills gaps of a specific individual, you may be able to achieve more through one-to-one training, coaching or mentoring sessions.
There may also be opportunities to send certain individuals to seminars or conferences where their knowledge gaps can be plugged. Alternatively, online courses are available to cover many skills gaps, and there may even be opportunities for certain employees to gain professional certificates and enhance their long-term career prospects.
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The Last Word
The presence of skills and knowledge gaps can be the difference between achieving business objectives and failing to do so, meaning it is important that managers take the necessary steps to address these gaps. Not only should this be done on a team basis, it should also be done on an individual basis, identifying your own shortcomings.
The best way to actually achieve this is to carry out a skills gap analysis and establish precisely where those shortcomings exist, and what they are. Once you have this information, it becomes much easier to choose the right training, coaching, certification or online courses, and to tailor employee development, in order to plug the gaps.
About the Author
Nadine is a technical marketing director at Korn Ferry, business analysis training providers with over 20 years’ experience in the global B2B sector, hands on, creative marketer, Nadine demonstrates a passion for cutting-edge technology and a proven ability to effectively translate client priorities. Nadine is passionate about Project Management, managing and contributing to the company PM blog servicing 40,000 monthly users.