Passengers aboard London subways often hear the warning, “Mind the gap.” It’s a reminder to use caution when transitioning to or from the immovable platform and the unstable subway car. When passengers mind the gap, more time can be spent on safe, efficient travel.
Professionals around the world ride railcars every day to work, but it’s important to consider a gap closer to their offices: the difference in skills between their employees. For some industries that rely on compliance or safety, the warning to pay attention to those skills gaps can be just as important.
After identifying the gap and navigating it with the right training and development, a business can become more efficient as the gap is closed.
Identifying Skills Gaps
Skills gaps tend to fall into two categories. Macro skills—ones such as critical thinking, communication, leadership, or teamwork—are not unique to your business. Micro skills are the specific ways in which your company serves customers, sells products, manages projects and finances, or embraces technology.
It’s important to consider both types of skills when assessing your company.
The perfect time to identify skills gaps is while onboarding new employees. But it’s important to create an environment where a new employee feels comfortable to say when and how they’re inexperienced. This can be accomplished through self-assessment or through real-world case studies and examples for the employee to practice upon without real-world failure.
It’s necessary to continually assess your workforce, especially as your company evolves. And it’s just as vital to ensure your experienced employees are comfortable discussing their skills inexperience.
Closing Skills Gaps
Do we default to assuming that employees will always lack in skills while never taking advantage of their strengths? For instance, if a new hire is skilled at certain software, why not use even that new employee to train others in the company? Employees who have worked at the company for longer are an invaluable resource for leadership training because of their experience.
Remember that everyone will be at different levels, so there is no one-size-fits-all training to close the gap. Large-scale corporate training, while vital, can only go so far. It’s the best time to discuss the broad strokes, but personalized training can be the key difference in making each individual a stronger employee.
Skills that require training and development are often specific and require repetition. Microlearning is an ideal solution. A library of bite-sized, skills-based training can help employees hone their abilities, especially when it’s available on their time and at their pace. Consider your workforce and the best format to host this learning. Is it social media? A website? A newsletter?
Lastly, it’s important to be humble and recognize that even the CEO has skills gaps. Listening to employees’ feedback and adapting can ensure every level of the company receives the training needed to “mind the skills gap” and efficiently close it.