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How to Solve your Company's Skill Gaps

Is your company challenged by employee skill gaps? Whether you're a manager that observes employee skill gaps or an employee aware of your own skill gaps, there's no contesting the reality that skill gaps are prevalent within many companies. A recent study from Accenture shows that this disconnect between what is expected of an employee and what an employee can actually do is a persistent problem for approximately half of all businesses.

Corporate Learning and Development departments are responsible for helping employees acquire the skills they need; however, findings show that in somewhat of a cyclical fashion, skill gaps are causing employee disengagement, which in turn is limiting the effectiveness of Learning and Development departments' ability to help employees gain skills. The traditional approaches of Learning and Development departments simply aren't working.

So what can companies do to improve corporate Learning and Development’s effectiveness and reduce employee skill gaps?


Develop a Competency Model

One of the most limiting aspects of traditional approaches to corporate Learning and Development is the interlinking of professional development and performance reviews. In typical top-down performance reviews, employees may feel pressured to ignore skill gaps or to overstate their capabilities out of fear that a performance review (which is often linked to pay and promotions) could be hindered. The best way to drive learning development is not through performance reviews but through assessing employee skills against competency models that are tailored to specific roles and responsibilities in the organization. And, most importantly, assessing employee capabilities against these models must remain separate from pay and promotion.

An effective competency model is also one that not only clearly and effectively identifies performance expectations of a role, but also makes the distinction between "good" and “great”. Employees should be able to easily determine how their current performance measures up vs, what is expected, and what behavior they need to exhibit to excel in their role. This type of model is particularly important for new workers, as they must learn how to develop skills quickly. When employees feel that they know how to improve, they'll be more engaged and motivated to do so.

Create Learner-Centric Professional Development

Many Learning and Development departments are challenged to keep pace with constant changes to specific job roles and requirements. They are finding that a top-down, role-based, one-size-fits-all approach for development programs are ineffective and difficult to administer in an environment in view of these constant changes. They are finding that employees are being disengaged in the learning process when development options don’t seem relevant to their needs.  A more engaging and agile approach would be to allow employees to own their own professional development in a bottom-up approach. The individual learner takes charge of his or her professional development; their learning is self-directed, they pursue training that is relevant to their specific skill deficiencies, and they rely on a network of mentors that provide individualized guidance along the way.

A learner-centric approach ultimately helps employees recognize the relevance of their training, which in turns makes it easier to stay motivated.

Leverage Technology for Personalized Learning

If employees are to truly be in charge of their own development, how might they be able to do it in an easy, accessible manner? Companies will need to leverage innovative technologies. While companies do employ Talent Management and Learning Management systems, most don't allow users access to what's really needed of learning programs, such as:

·         A way to assess performance against the requirements of a job

·         User choice in how development is experienced

·         A personalized skill improvement roadmap

With the right competency model, learner-centric approach, and personalized learning technology, companies can be on their way to minimizing employee skill gaps, increasing employee engagement, and changing perspectives of Learning and Development departments. For more information on decreasing skill gaps, check out SkillDirector's latest whitepaper, "Overcoming the Learning & Development Engagement Problem with Personalized Learning".



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