From industry shifts to rapidly evolving technology, global companies are racing to keep up with the pace of industry-disrupting change. As a manager, boss or team leader, what does this mean for your team's ability to keep up with constantly shifting business landscapes?
Potentially, the presence of skill gaps. 87% of companies worldwide say they have employee skill gaps - or expect to within a few years.
Skills gaps occur when there is a disparity between the skills and knowledge required to perform effectively and the skills workers possess. Skills gaps can manifest in two ways: in the greater workforce at large and in your own company.
Suppose you're finding it hard to either recruit qualified candidates or are finding it difficult to manage employee performance. In that case, it could be hindering innovation and growth—furthermore, your business's bottom line. According to Wiley's 2023 Closing the Skills Gap report, 23% of respondents believe their company's skills gap lowers profitability while increasing expenses by 25%.
Identifying skills gaps in your workplace and addressing them effectively is important to ensure the success of your organisation. And with the right approach, it can be easily achieved. From knowing how to diagnose skill gaps to how to eradicate them, we take a deep dive into creating a robust and well-trained team armed with the right skills to bring the growth your business requires.
Identify the root cause of the skills gap
In the Closing the Skills Gap report, respondents found that the biggest causes of skill gaps at their companies were a lack of employee development initiatives and options (41%) and a lack of in-house resources for training and development (38%).
So, what is causing the skill gaps in your organisation? Are technology trends like AI and the metaverse building faster than your internal capability? Is it possible that changes in strategy and the current competencies are now misaligned? Are the competencies being hired and the actual job requirements different? Does the culture allow the time for a growth mindset and self-directed learning?
Identify where skill gaps exist
The first step to building a future-fit team is to diagnose skill gaps so you can take meaningful steps to close them. What is the best way to do this? Conduct a skills gap analysis.
Start by clearly defining the skills and competencies required for each role or task within your team. Are you seeking hard, technical skills such as software proficiency or data analysis? Or transferrable soft skills like communication or collaboration?
Then it's time to evaluate the skills and capabilities of your team members. You could consider performance evaluations, skills assessments, or one-on-one interviews. Take into account also their real-life experience and helpful feedback from colleagues or clients.
Now act on the data you've gathered, which could mean designing training programs, workshops, coaching, and mentoring programs to upskill or reskill your team.
Of course, these are just the first fundamental steps. Creating a new working environment that fosters learning and growth needs a holistic approach that embeds new structures and systems. From training techniques to fresh recruiting outlooks, take inspiration from these progressive ways to address your team's skill gaps.
Think beyond traditional training
Reverse mentoring is where a more junior employee mentors a more senior team member. For the first time, we now have four generations in the workforce, meaning reverse mentoring can be a highly effective way to connect and share unique skills.
According to McKinsey research, the most significant skills gaps remain in data analytics, IT and web-based areas. And since Gen Z and Millennials are often highly tech-savvy, creating opportunities to impart their wisdom across the team is a no-brainer.
When implementing a reverse mentorship program, define your objectives. Maybe you want to transfer digital skills? Or help drive cross-generation innovation? Identify suitable mentors and partner them with mentees who will benefit the most. Establish the structure and duration of your program and offer any additional resources that will support it.
Review your recruitment process
As we established, skill gaps don't just occur with your existing employees but also with candidates you are trying to recruit. For HR professionals, this poses a genuine concern regarding attracting and retaining workers; 48% said their biggest worry is upskilling current employees' skills as roles evolve – which they would rather do than recruit new workers.
By re-evaluating your company's approach to hiring, you can become more strategic in targeting suitable candidates to plug skill gaps. Partner with expert recruiting companies, like Trojan, with specialist skills in attracting the right talent to meet your needs.
Review the job adverts you're placing. Are they sufficiently crafted to highlight the skills and competencies required to fill the job required? Are they tailored to showcase your company's commitment to professional development and growth opportunities? When reviewing applications, balance your focus towards skills and behaviours rather than just educational achievement or qualifications.
Consider working with educational establishments that align with your industry. Internship programs or apprenticeships could also be an option to attract and nurture candidates with relevant skills.
Build a culture that fosters a growth mindset and self-directed learning
In many cases, we ask employees to be innovative, to come up with new ideas and do things differently, which means there is no training manual for deploying these new initiatives for the first time.
Create a culture where it is ok to test and learn while managing risks.
Create 'experiments' when trying to do things in a new and exciting way which removes the fear of failure. By doing so, your team will learn immeasurably in the planning, the experiment itself, and the outcome – potentially faster than any other method. They may also discover the next big competitive advantage for your organisation!
Foster curiosity and encourage team members to problem-solve on their own. Instead of expecting leaders to have all the answers, teach them how to embrace tools like YouTube and ChatGPT to research, validate and test so they can learn independently.
Train with efficiency
Named after physicist Richard Feynman the Feynman Technique is a powerful way to fill employee skill gaps by enhancing understanding and knowledge retention. By using this simple, four-step process in training sessions, you can help your team learn and retain almost anything!
1 Choose your skill
What do you want to help your team learn? It could be a soft skill such as critical thinking and problem-solving or a complex skill like digital communication and project management.
2 Simplify and teach
Ask employees to break down the skill or concept into simple, easy-to-understand terms. Get them to imagine they are teaching it to a child or someone else with no background knowledge of the subject, forcing them to simplify complex ideas and clarify their understanding.
3 Fill in gaps with research
To help cultivate their understanding, encourage your team members to research the skill further. You can provide them with learning materials or promote their independent learning. This handy iterative process helps fill the knowledge gaps and deepens their comprehension of the skill.
4 Optimise and perfect
Have a follow-up session a week later to see if the skill learning has been ingrained in your team's consciousness and if they can explain their subject with wisdom and insight. Is the information not sticking? Simply go back to step 2 and repeat the process.
By identifying the cause of the skill gaps, those areas in which the gaps exist, encouraging reverse mentorship, a growth mindset and self-directed learning coupled with professional hiring and expedient training, your organisation is on the way to leading the charge when it comes to addressing the current skill gap issue – both now and into the future.
87% of companies worldwide say they have employee skill gaps - or expect to within a few years.
Conduct a skills gap analysis by defining the skills and competencies required for each role or task within your team.
Evaluate the skills and capabilities of your team members before acting on that data and implementing the right upskilling or reskilling strategies.
Encourage reverse mentorship opportunities to create a bottom-up flow of information alongside the traditional top-down approach.
Build a culture that fosters curiosity and a growth mindset.
Re-evaluate your company's approach to hiring to attract suitable candidates to plug any skills gaps.
Use the Feynman Technique to fill employee skill gaps by enhancing their understanding and knowledge retention of your chosen subjects.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.