How many employees does it take to change a lightbulb? Don’t worry, there’s no bad punch line coming because the answer should be simple: one. The employee with the most qualified light bulb changing skills should be the go-to. Management should know who their light bulb changer is. The light bulb changer knows their position because, they got hired for this crucial job. In the case of light bulb changing, our hypothetical organization clearly knows how to define employee skills.
In a perfect world, in a perfect company, employee skills perfectly match the duties and job responsibilities of each and every employee. But we all know this is not always the case and organizations do themselves and their employees a great disservice by not clearly defining employee skills. Not only could organizations maximize their investments on employees, but employees could better perform their jobs and more effectively take on projects.
There’s nothing new about any of these concepts or models. The skills match the job that needs to be done. But our workplace, our industries and our technologies are becoming increasingly complex and convoluted. Distilling the employee skills necessary for the job or project and the worker(s) that matches perfectly all these talents is a science unto itself. Managers in particular are having greater difficulty in putting together teams for projects and identifying and defining employee skills.
To better understand how to define employee skills, let’s look to a real-world example
Meet Elaine, she’s an IT manager for a long-standing company that is in a new growth phase. She’s been with the company for three months and she was brought on because she has a proven track record of bringing businesses with out of date systems into the modern era.
Her first major project: migrating their entire old database, mostly spreadsheets, into a new Database Management System. Elaine can do this, but she’s so new, and the company’s IT department is so large, their skills so undefined, that she’s having a hard time choosing the right people for the job.
Next, Elaine has gotten to know a few of the personalities. Jeff has a pug and wears a different color of socks each day of the week. Jasmine likes tacos and hates the smell of mint toothpaste. But their specific skills are less clear. Everyone in the whole department has learned their niche in the company and performs their jobs with diligence, but few can describe to Elaine what it is they really do, let alone define their particular skills.
Furthermore, Elaine wisely, has realized the IT department’s shortcoming: how can she choose the right people for this project if she doesn’t know their abilities? And in the grand scheme of things, she needs to define these skills, the level of competency, the latest trainings, the gaps in education and certifications for each employee so that she can correctly place them in future projects. Elaine—the strong, fearless visionary that she is—realizes her company needs employee skills and competency management.
With a comprehensive and systematized skills management structure in place, Elaine can create her dream team for any given project. Not only that, but she has benefitted her employees and employer in a number of invaluable ways.
Steps to define employee skills
For the employees, defining and managing skills helps:
- Identify current strengths and areas of expertise
- Identify deficits and skill gaps
- Target individual and group trainings needed to increase key competencies
- Place people where they are most knowledgeable and comfortable
- Recognize employee development opportunities (a key factor in increasing industry relevance and employee morale)
For the company, employee skills management facilitates:
- Increased productivity by putting the best people in positions that speak to their strengths
- Saved time and resources by streamlining the skills identification process for all projects
- A way to restructure teams to be more productive and effective
- Potential employee retention by identifying professional development trainings
Elaine’s company, if they listened to her prudent suggestion and found a system to clearly define and manage employee skills, will now have alleviated and expedited a great many issues managers and employees come across every day.
Your company, too, can benefit in key areas of performance, better achieving company objectives, identifying strengths and skills gaps, putting the right person in the right place and, most importantly, saving time and resources.
Don’t take shots in the dark when it comes to crucial projects and investments in your business. In cases of critical management decisions, your money and energy are best invested in a comprehensive employee skills management system. Contact us for a free demo on SkillsDB.