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Identifying Competency Gaps in the Workplace

Identifying Competency Gaps in the Workplace
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  • 0:04 Competency Gap
  • 1:11 Strategies for…
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Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

In order to correct competency gaps, you must first be able to identify them. In this lesson, you'll learn more about strategies and tactics for identifying competency gaps in the workplace.

Competency Gap

Jack got his first job out of college at a big advertising firm in his hometown. Even though he's been there for almost a year, he's still struggling with his communication skills in the workplace. His emails and memos are often unclear, his lack of confidence gets the best of him during presentations, and he seems to lack empathy when dealing directly with customers.

Jack's boss has recognized the gap in Jack's communications skills, thanks to his own understanding of ways to identify competency gaps in his workplace. Now, he can arrange for the proper training and development to get Jack back on track.

Competencies are the characteristics employees need in order to be successful on the job. But, just like there can be disparity between the individual skills needed to do a job and the skills employees possess, there can also be competency gaps that employees and employers must work through. These types of gaps, the difference between where an employee is currently and what is required for the position, can be identified with a few common strategies. That's what we're going to discuss in this lesson.

Strategies for Identifying Gaps

Being able to identify competency gaps is the first step toward correcting them through additional training and development. Here are a few tools worth trying.

Conduct a Competency Audit

A competency audit can help you figure out what gaps exist in your present workforce's abilities. By conducting a competency audit, you can take a look at how your employees are currently performing and what areas are lacking to support the needs of the organization.

To get started, determine what competencies are necessary, both for individual jobs and the business as a whole. Once you know what you need, you can take a more in-depth look at the abilities of each worker in order to figure out if his or her capabilities meet the competencies necessary to be successful. The easiest way to gather data on employee abilities is through employee and supervisor questionnaires. Employees will also self-identify areas where they are struggling, while managers can provide a more comprehensive assessment of abilities. Asking other employees to rank their colleagues can also be an effective way to get a true picture of competencies and potential gaps.

Look at KPIs

Key performance indicators are units of measure that gauge whether a company is meeting its business objectives. KPIs can show inefficiencies or gaps in competencies as well. For example, a key performance indicator for call centers might be time to resolution, which measures how efficient call center representatives are at handling customer concerns. An employee whose time to resolution score is twice as high as his next co-worker might be lacking critical competencies to adequately perform his job.

Track key performance indicators, or KPIs, in areas of focus for your business so you can use them to adequately assess employee function and determine where problems may lie.

360-Degree Reviews

We touched on the concept of 360-degree reviews in the point on competency audits, but never gave it a name, so here it is. A 360-degree review is a feedback system that relies on appraisals from anyone who interacts with an employee in order to develop a clear picture of the employee's competencies. 360-degree reviews give businesses a 360-degree assessment of an employee's performance, soliciting feedback from co-workers, supervisors, supervisees, and even customers, clients, or vendors that deal with a particular employee.

No one knows better about potential competency gaps with employees than individuals who work closely with those employees day in and day out. 360-degree reviews can be accomplished with surveys, focus groups, or even one-on-one interviews. Typically, 360-degree reviews are collected anonymously.

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