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4 ways skills mapping keeps your company agile in the face of change

Dec 16, 2020| Reading time: 11min

BY ChartHop

For many companies, 2020 was a reactionary year that forced them to adopt remote-work models, speed up their digital transformation, and make difficult financial and personnel decisions.

Despite these drastic changes, companies strive to keep moving forward. Yet, for many, that means accomplishing the same level of output, productivity, or service with fewer resources, particularly in regard to their workforces.

The business world’s response to COVID-19 demonstrated the need for companies to stay resilient amidst change. Whether caused by internal or external forces, companies are often left scrambling when disaster strikes.

Having a contingency plan in place can help your company weather these unexpected events, as can leveraging skills mapping to better understand your company’s current resourcing.

Skills mapping allows you to not only visualize the required skills for specific roles or departments but also determine whether your current workforce’s skills meet, exceed, or fall short of your need. Having an accurate understanding of your company’s skills can help you prepare for any challenges you face as well as recover and rebuild in the wake of these challenges. Here’s four ways skills mapping can give your team the upper hand in the face of uncertainty.

1. Skills mapping visualizes employee skills and competency

In order to face down any challenge or unexpected change, you have to know what resources you have at hand. Think beyond company finances or digital tools, and consider an often-overlooked resource: the breadth of skills embedded in your workforce.

Unfortunately, most companies haven’t invested in the processes or tools necessary to gain an accurate view of skills within their company. Smaller companies struggle to conduct skills analyses because they lack the resources, both time and people, needed to complete the task. Larger companies default skills analysis to a micro-view at the department level.

However, leveraging technology can simplify and streamline your skills assessment process, no matter the size of your company. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use online skills assessments. Assessments aren’t just for the hiring process. You can use them to measure current skills distribution across your company. Capture hard skills (like software development or technical skills) and soft skills (like communication, leadership, and adaptability) using online assessments you can email to employees.
  • Capture the depth of skills mastery. Building a skills matrix allows you to better visualize the degree of competency an employee has with a certain skill. While a more complex approach is necessary for skills management, a skills matrix can at least give you an indication of where your workforce stands in regard to a particular skill.
  • Centralize skills data. Take advantage of the integrations your tools offer to compile important skills data from your various systems into a single, central platform. This ensures that you’re making decisions based on all available information company-wide.

What is a skills matrix?

A skills matrix can help you visualize the breadth and depth of employees’ skills. (Source)

Knowing where your workforce is stable and competent can serve as an anchor in times of crises and change. You can lean on these skill sets while you work to address the skill areas where your workforce may be lacking.

2. Skills mapping reveals skill gaps in your current workforce

The flip side of using skills mapping to identify your company’s strengths is that you shine a light on skill gaps in the process. Rest assured you’re not alone in this. Managers and executives (87%) admit their companies currently face skill gaps or expect to in the coming years.

One way to combat such a gap is to be proactive about identifying required skills for a specific role before you make moves to fill it. Focusing on an applicant’s ideal skills – rather than ideal persona – can reduce bias towards members of underrepresented groups during the recruiting cycle. It’s an important step for companies committed to advancing [DEI](/platform/dei/ in the workplace.

Being up front about required skills will not only attract qualified candidates but also help your hiring teams be fair and objective during the hiring process.

Tying skills to roles ahead of hiring can also be helpful in the planning stage, or when your company is considering its response to change or crisis.

Think about your needs as they currently exist and how those needs might change based on future goals or contingency plans. Knowing ahead of time what skills are necessary to navigate and survive that change can help your PeopleOps team prioritize hiring or training opportunities.

In a post-COVID-19 landscape, skill insight is especially crucial. Companies are still recovering from major financial hits taken over the past year and may not be in a position to bring on a number of new employees after laying off or furloughing workers. Understanding the most crucial and immediate need due to skill gaps makes it easier for companies to consider their next move.

3. Skills mapping helps you get creative with your human talent

When companies know what skills their employees have versus where those skills are needed, leaders can get creative in how they approach discrepancies—and get higher returns in the process.

We often forget what secret skills or talents our co-workers have when we see them, day in and day out, use only those skills relevant to the job at hand. But assessing and visualizing skills in your workforce highlights opportunities to creatively reallocate those skills.

Knowing particular strengths allows you to redistribute talent throughout the company if a change or crisis demands it.

Here’s an example of that kind of creativity: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple closed retail stores around the globe. Knowing this move would drive customers to the website and place a service burden on their customer support teams, Apple asked their retail employees to switch to at-home support. There, employees could still use their product knowledge and customer support skills but in a context that benefited their company’s current situation.

You should also consider the dimensions or tangible outputs of skill. Let’s say you have two employees who rank as “highly skilled” in communication, but one employee excels at negotiation while the other is unmatched in working with demanding customers. Knowing their particular strengths allows you to redistribute talent throughout the company if a change or crisis demands it. Your negotiator might move from a training positing to assisting sales while your support MVP assists with customer success or account managers during a trying time.

4. Skills mapping improves your skills management strategy

When navigating a crisis or major change, PeopleOps should consider the ways skills mapping can improve skills management invectives by both addressing existing skill gaps and keeping employees employed.

We talked earlier about skills assessments and how creating skills matrices can help you initially visualize the breadth and depth of your workforce’s existing skills. But acting on that insight requires that you pair those findings with a robust skills management strategy.

Skills management includes identifying skills, but it also involves developing skills within your workforce. Here’s why that matters: Senior and managerial leadership believe that skill building will offer the most direct route to closing the skills gaps in the coming years. Hiring for skills is also a viable option, but during a crisis, companies might not be in a position to bring on new talent. That’s where upskilling comes into play.

Upskilling Benefits Companies and Employees

Leadership recognizes that upskilling offers companies the opportunity to close skill gaps. (Source)

Take advantage of your skills mapping data to forecast immediate versus future skill needs, and use that to drive training development. Existing technology can help you create short, interactive, and just-in-time trainings that don’t take your employees away from their current work for prolonged periods.

When you plan for ways to grow or upskill your employees, you benefit your company in several ways:

  • Upskilling current employees leverages their intimate knowledge of your company and processes.
  • You can better identify where to invest in training programs and upskilling opportunities.
  • You empower employees to share their talents and skills, driving peer-led mentoring and training.
  • Offering more comprehensive training opportunities increases productivity 6-12% and improves employee satisfaction.

You can also incorporate skills-based metrics into your performance review cycles. This level of objective assessment can serve as a guardrail that limits opportunities for bias to crop up.

Skills mapping can bolster your skills management strategy. In upskilling and growing your workforce, you position your company to better navigate change.

Build an agile and skilled foundation for whatever is to come

Skills mapping paired with action—be it reallocation, hiring, or upskilling—shouldn’t be considered only when faced with a crisis or change. Continuing to invest in your workforce and identify opportunities for growth will better position your company to navigate whatever comes next.

Ready to take your skills mapping and management game to the next level? Request your customized ChartHop demo today!

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