A skills matrix facilitates fundamental gap analysis. Neil Parker from BridgePoint Group tells us what it is and why it is important for your business.
So, good for you, you are finally really clear about where you are going. That puts you ahead of the pack but of itself, it doesn’t deliver the outcome. The next logical step is to get a strong understanding of “where we are now” and compare the two. Sounds like gap analysis? Well, that’s because it is! And a skills matrix can help that analysis.
So, how does that relate to skills? Well, there is a fair chance that if the future looks different to the present, at least some of the skills your team has now will be redundant and at least some of the skills they will need to have in the future need to be developed or acquired.
“So, ask yourself this – to get where you are going, what are the skills your business is going to need?”
By assessing the skills you have now versus the skills needed in the place you want to be, you can identify the gaps. That allows you to put a skills development/acquisition plan in place.
- Do we need to improve the current skill set? Is it incremental change that is needed or do we need to acquire a brand-new set of skills?
- The plan has to consider your people. How are you going to develop your people so they have all the skills and attributes they need to have in the desired future state?
- Depending on the attitude and aptitude of current employees, you may or may not be able to reskill or upskill them. Depending on those factors, and timing, you may have to find other people that already bring those skill sets. Where will they come from?
- Given they already get the culture, is it better to encourage current employees to re-skill or upskill them so they can participate in and contribute to the company’s journey?
Either way, skill development or recruiting employees with the requisite skill set each take time. So, this is an important piece in any company’s growth but it is one that is often missed in planning.
Having the requisite mix of skills to get to where they want to go is a key frustration for many business owners.
If your business is growing, the skills matrix has to be looked at fairly regularly. Modern businesses operate in a very fluid environment and plans change regularly. You need to keep coming back to your business plans and ask…
“Is what I thought 3 months ago, still relevant for the business today?”
The further you can look down the path to where the business is going to be, the better you will be able to predict the skill sets that need to be developed or acquired and the more time you have to make that real. As you would already appreciate, new skill development doesn’t happen overnight, training takes time and implementation and mastering of new learnings takes even longer.
One method to identify aptitude is personality profiling. This can help identify if you have the right people in the right places within your business. Square pegs don’t fit into round holes.
You need to have an awareness of what skill sets your team has and how developed those skills are. This is where a skills matrix comes into play.
It is important to align the individual’s skills with whole of business requirements. Are there themes within the organisation that need to be picked up on? So, when you are looking at skill-mapping, it’s not just the core skills that need to be looked at. Profiling your ‘business of the future’ will highlight the things that are important to your future company’s ability to deliver its products and services effectively.
Fundamentally, we’re talking about change, so stuff like project management, change management and leadership might come into it.
What about business owners and their continued skill development?
In many small businesses, the business owner is compensating for skill deficiencies in other parts of the organisation. How many of you “wear too many hats”?
You might be able to relate to stories of owners constantly getting dragged back into a specialised task which holds them back from working on the business and thus growing the business. The more a business owner can relinquish those tasks, the better able they are to concentrate on business growth. That requires delegation and the ability to trust the skills of the delegates.
Business owners’ skills must also morph over time.
As a business evolves the skills it consumes are different. The technical skills that underpinned the business at start-up need to be supplemented or replaced by business skills like sales and marketing, leadership, strategy and management. Without the development of these skills the business will only ever operate as it is today. If the business owner’s skill set stalls, the whole business stalls.
Company growth plans must be linked to regular skill assessment programs.
Your business growth plan must have a regular skills assessment program in place. Ultimately, you need to anticipate your needs with a view to having sufficient, appropriate resources in place as and when you need them. So your analysis of the skills gap is tied directly to your business’s growth plan.
It is a more than useful thing to do, now, to prepare for the skills required in the future.
A skills matrix is relatively simple to produce. List the people in the organisation on the left-hand side of a page and across the page write the skill sets that you know that your future business will require. Allocate a score out of ten, for each employee against each skill set.
This simple process will not only make you think about the relevant skill sets, it will highlight areas where individuals (or the entire business) need development. It will provide those uh-huh moments that explain current frustrations – it may well be that through turnover, evolution or some other factor, you no longer have the required skill sets in your organisation. Maybe nobody else has mastered the required skills, whether technical or other.
In summary, if nobody knows how to do it, then how is your company going to advance?