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How to Identify Knowledge and Skills Gaps in Your Organisation

Damian Hehire-learning

How to Identify Knowledge and Skills Gaps in Your Organisation

In our previous blog in this series on bridging knowledge and skills gaps, we explored the reasons why bridging both is important for your business. The reasons included everything from removing barriers that could prevent your business from achieving its goals to reducing staff turnover to improving productivity.

In this blog, we’ll look at the steps you should take to identify the knowledge and skills gaps that currently exist in your organisation. There are five main steps that you should take.

  1. Identify Business Needs

Some skills will be more valuable to your business than others.

In addition, there will be knowledge levels and skills that similar employees might need in other organisations that are not required in yours, while you might need your employees to have unique skillsets.

So, to properly understand the skills and levels of knowledge that your employees need, you must first start with identifying business needs.

Don’t just look at the needs of your business today, though. You also need to think about the future and the impact of plans you are implementing, as well as technologies, regulations, competitor activity, etc.

  1. Identify the Knowledge and Skills Needed for Each Broad Job Role in Your Business

Based on the business needs you identify in the above point, drill this down to the skills and knowledge that your employees need to have. It is best to do this based on job role.

As with the previous point, don’t just look at the skills and knowledge needed today. Instead, also look at the knowledge and skills that your business will need in the future.

This process will involve looking at performance statistics, getting feedback from employees themselves, talking to managers, talking to senior executives in the company, researching the approach taken by other companies, talking to customers, talking to suppliers and partners, etc.

  1. Prioritise the Skills Based on the Previous Two Stages

The next step involves identifying the most important skills and areas of knowledge that your business needs. A good approach is to create a table for each job role. Each table should list the knowledge and skills you have identified as being required, classifying each as High, Medium, or Low priority.

It is then helpful to assess the desired level of knowledge or skill you would like employees to achieve. After all, not everyone has to be an expert to be effective in their role.

So, for example, one of the skills you identify for a particular job role could be presentation skills. However, you don’t need the person to be an expert as they won’t be presenting to people in rooms full of hundreds of people. So, a lower level of presentation skills will be sufficient.

To achieve this, you could assess each skill using a 1-5 scale, with one being the lowest and five being the highest. So, in the above example, you could decide that presentation skills are important for your business. As these skills are essential for client acquisition and project delivery, you might rate this skill as being of High importance. However, your team only needs to present to small groups of people, so you rate the skill level required as 4.

Important skills prioritisation example:

Job Role A Skills/KnowledgeImportanceSkill Level Required
Presentation skillsHigh4
New product knowledgeHigh5
Company CRM systemMedium3
New government regulations that will have a small, indirect impact on the businessLow2
  1. Measure the Current Knowledge and Skills Levels of Employees

Once you have identified the knowledge levels and skills that your business needs, the next step is to measure whether employees have capabilities up to the required standard.

You can do this using a range of measurement and assessment methods:

  • Employee assessments
  • Analysis of performance reviews
  • Employee surveys
  • Interviews with employees and managers

To get the best assessment of current knowledge and skill levels, you should use more than one source of measurement.

Once you have completed the assessments, you can go back to the table created in the previous step to insert the current capability level of employees. Here’s an example:

Job Role A Skills/KnowledgeImportanceSkill Level RequiredCurrent Skill Level
Presentation skillsHigh42
New product knowledgeHigh54
Company CRM systemMedium33
New government regulations that will have a small, indirect impact on the business.Low21

From this example, you can see that capability levels in three of the four areas are not up to the required standard. Two of these are rated highly important, so these would be the two areas to focus on first, taking us to the next step in the process.

  1. Bridge Knowledge and Skills Gaps

Once you identify the knowledge and skills gaps in your business, you need to take action to bridge them. One of the mains ways to bridge knowledge and skills gaps is to create training materials, particularly e-learning courses. However, there are other methods that will be more applicable in some situations.

Regardless of the methods used, bridging knowledge and skills gaps will ensure your business has the capabilities it needs to deliver on current client expectations and requirements, achieve future objectives, and remain competitive in a changing business landscape.

In our next blog, we’ll go into detail on the steps you should take once you identify the knowledge and skills gaps in your organisation that you need to bridge.