Better Training Through Skill Gap Analysis

One of the best things you can do to improve your team’s training plan is to add Skill Gap Analysis. This step helps the trainer to identify gaps in performance and areas for added training and development.

Benchmarking

The first step in conducting a thorough Skill Gap Analysis is to create a picture of what ideal performance looks like. This step—called Competency Profiling—takes a look at the attitudes, knowledge, behaviors, and specific skills needed for an individual to excel in a particular role. These competencies can be rated as critical or core, meaning that a high level of proficiency is needed in order to be successful in the role; or preferred, meaning that while not mandatory, a particular competency would help the employee to better excel.

Assessment

Once your benchmarking is done and core and preferred competencies are identified for the role; it’s time to measure the employee’s proficiency against the competencies you’ve identified. There are a number of ways that this can be accomplished, and while any one of the following strategies can be effective, it’s far preferable to use a combination of several so that you get a more well-rounded picture of how the employee is performing and what he or she might be missing that can be rectified with added training and development. Assessment techniques include:

  • Performance Review – a standard performance review typically revolves around discussion between the employee and the supervisor of both the supervisor’s and employee’s assessment of the employee’s proficiency. The review includes development of a strategy to help the employee further 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 for gathering of qualitative data. Interviews can also identify misconceptions with regard to the role; resistant attitudes (including change-resistance and personality conflict); and other barriers to excellent performance that might not surface in a performance review.
  • Surveys – surveying managers, employees, and coworkers (including other managers) can help gather even more qualitative information that can be used for statistical performance analysis. Today, such surveys can be designed and conducted very quickly, easily, and efficiently, online.
  • Customer Feedback – if it’s possible to interview or survey customers or other stakeholders, they can be an outstanding 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 gather quantitative data (multiple choice, fill in the blank etc.) of employees’ understanding of particular competencies, necessary to their ability to perform them.
  • Audits – this process simply creates a checklist of specific operational standards, and the employee’s ability to perform to those standards is checked against the list.

Analysis

Once the assessment has been completed using one (or preferably several) of the techniques listed above, the trainer can then begin the process of closing the gaps with strategies including training (if a lack of knowledge is identified), role reassignment (personnel transfer or organizational changes); allocating new resources; added rewards or other incentives; or improved goal-setting and measurement. As in any case where proficiency can’t be improved by other means, termination may have to be considered.

Adding Skill Gap Analysis to your training plan will help you to identify, improve, and prioritize your training and development projects by creating a sharper picture of your team’s abilities as compared to your vision for ultimate success; but creating a fully comprehensive plan requires far more than we could fit into one blog post! If you’re interested in putting this outstanding tool to work in your organization, be sure to make Your Team’s Got Talent: Better Training Through Skill Gap Analysis presented on Thursday, September 16th at the Multifamily Brainstorming Sessions by Kara Rice and Jana Muma of Grace Hill part of your Brainstorming 2010 training plan! We’ll see you there!

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