Today, skills management has become an indispensable element of an organization's performance. Employees are expected to possess a diversity of skills and capabilities. However, not all organizations know how to manage the vast array of employee skills. Therefore, conducting a skills audit is the first step to harnessing the best from your employees.
In this three-part series, we intend to provide managers, leaders, and employees with constructive information regarding each of the three common steps associated with a skills audit. Hence, the three steps are:
- Ensuring that leaders, managers, as well as employees are aware of and buy into the importance of a skills audit (this article)
- Developing a skills matrix and creating analytic reports, that support the business’s strategic objectives (part 2)
- Analyze the skills audit and go into the reporting analytics and output you should strive to achieve (part 3)
Persuading leaders, managers, and employees that a skills audit is needed
Only by effectively communicating the points below can you get leadership, management, and employee buy-in.
- What is a skills audit
- The benefits of a skill audit
- Anticipated outcomes of a skill audit
- Downfalls of not conducting a skills audit
What is a skills audit?
To start, it is a process in which the skills of individuals or groups are being measured. In particular, the basic intent is to identify the existing set of skills within the organization and the and knowledge the organization will need in the future.
A skills audit is more than simply collecting qualifications information. Above all, it enables organizational leaders to build a comprehensive skills matrix and see whether each employee within the company possesses the competencies and actual skills to fulfill his/her workplace role.
The audit data can also serve to detect skill deficiencies, improve skill levels, and prevent critical skill losses. Of course, each person who works in the organization has a set of skills. Not only is it important for the organization to know what each person’s skill set and skill levels are, but it is also important to know how these skills are utilized as a part of his/her work role.
Skills audits always involves documenting the skills the organization needs to become successful, and the skills the workers already have, and at the end of the day comparing these two data sets.
In the end, the skills audit provides a snapshot of the organization's skills that allows identification of specific training needs, prioritization of training, job role matching, and the meeting of employee desires and aspirations.
The benefits of conducting a comprehensive skills audit are numerous:
- Placing the right people, with the right projects and job roles
- Providing detailed information on the most essential areas for skills improvement
- Providing detailed information to develop training and development resources
- Lower training and development costs because development efforts are more focused
- Defining the most urgent recruiting needs and securing the best applicants
- Facilitating placement decisions
- Providing accurate information to enhance career and succession planning activities
Thus, the most common results include:
- Comprehensive and valid workplace skills matrices and plans
- Improved organizational knowledge and skills
- Reduced costs of training and development
- Better targeted training programs
- More accurate internal employee selection, succession, and placement
- Increased productivity by securing the right employees in the right places
Downfalls of not conducting a skills audit
Organizations, which do not engage in skills audits, usually face the following problems:
- Having the wrong people in the wrong job roles
- Inhibited job growth for your employees
- Not recruiting the right applicants for both the organizations’ current and future strategic needs
- Expensive and non-effective training
- Training plans that are too general to bring valid results
- Failure to align training priorities with the goals and priorities of the organization
- Little or no commitment to training & development by management and staff, as plans are not seen as value-adding
By not doing a skills audit making effective decisions about skills management is nearly impossible. Without it, companies are relying on methods that are subjective, inconsistent, not tailored to specific job skills, or the results are not meaningful enough to support objective and accurate decision making.
Concluding Part One
Skills audits answer many questions that are crucial to a business’s success such as:
- What are our core competencies and are we leveraging them?
- What is our greatest skills weakness that could be hurting our productivity?
- Is our focus and investment in investment in skills aligned with our business goals as well as objectives?
- What are the critical skills gaps we should be focusing on?
- Are our initiatives reducing critical skills gaps?
Once your co-workers understand the benefits of skills audits and the problem of not engaging in them, most will enthusiastically support you in this valuable process.
Dive into part 2 of 3 in this series: How to Conduct a Skills Audit