Getting the Best Performance Out of Your Team: How to Identify and Address Skills Gaps

Skills gaps can be one of the most significant obstacles to ensuring an organization attains its goals and fulfill its mission. If staff does not have the skills they need to deliver the results, that of course makes it difficult for an organization to achieve its current goal and to grow and adapt to changing markets and environments. From my experience, however, there are ways to identify knowledge or skills gaps and implement efficient methods to address them.

The Importance of Assessment

In assessing the knowledge and abilities of your current team, it is important to consider your organization’s current and future needs. It is also important to understand that some team members may find it difficult to self-assess and, as such, feedback from other team members and third parties should be included in the assessment. Accurately assessing the team’s knowledge and abilities can, one, give you a more accurate idea of your team’s strengths and, two, show how best to address potential areas of improvement.

A Look at Training and Development

Investing in the right kinds of training and development for your team is equally important as the assessment. Even if staff appear to be heterogeneous in terms of education and experience, as a leader, considering the types of training (auditory, visual or tactile) that will work best for each team member is a valuable part of the process. Online webinars might be helpful for one group, and self-directed training may be suitable for another group, but it’s important to find the right fit so that all team members can develop.

Sometimes team leaders are reluctant to provide ongoing training and development with concerns that it’s too expensive or that there’s not enough time to devote valuable working hours to activities that are not immediately productive. Team members may also be concerned about time constraints and the relevance of the training. I would counter those objections with an observation—in my experience, training and development are essential to recruiting and retaining talent, and when you think about all the costs of replacing employees and the lost productivity when your team is down a member or two, you understand why training is so important. Training and professional development go a long way to making a good team even better.

Another good practice to keep in mind as a leader is to recognize and cultivate the skills that your team members already possess. For example, if a particular team member shows calm leadership during crisis situations, make sure you recognize their contributions to your team’s work and the organization.

However you choose to address skills gaps, it’s important to address the issue and not ignore it. Enhancing the capabilities of your team will add to overall productivity and allow your team to make significant contributions to the growth of your organization.