Fill In the Skills Gaps

For most employees, the days of doing the same tasks over and over each day are gone. Today’s service workplace demands every employee to be tuned in, present and thinking to assess their situation and respond in a way that delivers value and care to customers. In addition to having the right talents for the job, they also need to have the best skills.

Yet in a world of constant change, your employees can quickly lose ground with their skills. The skills that helped them perform yesterday may not be the same skills needed to succeed today. So how are employees supposed to stay current while still getting their work done? On-the-job training.

Think about your employees’ proficiency with the technology that drives, measures and evaluates your business.

Think about your employees’ proficiency with understanding emotional intelligence, professionalism and communication so they better connect with each other and your customers.

Think about your employees’ proficiency in problem-solving and critical thinking so they can wisely review, assess and choose how to successfully respond to challenges and opportunities.

It is up to the organization to fill in employees’ skills gap. Consider these two ways to provide the necessary on-the-job training to keep your organization competitive:

  1. Train your managers to act more like coaches. Use the increased contact of a coaching relationship to devote more time to developing employees’ skills by assessing what works and doesn’t work in their performance. Then, work with them to do more of what works and to improve what doesn’t work. They learn on the job, using real-time events, challenges and obstacles, from someone who can guide their learning and performance. It goes without saying that learning in real-time, with real-world examples tends to “stick” much better than theoretical training.
  2. Create versatile learning. Create an employee reading list. Identify your internal subject matter experts and help them create short trainings in a variety of formats, such as live or video. Mandate a certain number of required and elective skill trainings for each employee. Ensure that all skills training include a proficiency review at the end to ensure the training is amplifying skills and therefore performance.

Learning should be an organizational value, supported by every employee and evidenced by pervasive education, training and skill development for all levels.

Take Action
Your employees showed up ready to perform on their first day with a unique set of skills that would help them succeed on the job. Then the world changed. Help them stay productive and skilled by making skill development an essential part of your workplace culture and commitment to your employees. Consider how you can identify any skill gaps and how you must provide effective ways to help them close these gaps. This is a driver of productivity, performance and retention.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Managers: How to Identify and Correct Your Blind Spots

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