Monday, 24 March 2014

Shotgun Training (Part 3 – “Understanding your current skill state")

Authored by John Shaw

In our last post we discussed defining the target skills for our training program via a Skills Grid. In this post we are going to bring more color to the conversation by determining who already has which skills. We will do this in a way that will set us up to prioritize skill development against our business needs.

The basis of this activity is to perform an evaluation of existing skill levels. Now please don’t run away at this point, I think terms like ‘Certification’, ‘Skill Evaluation’ and ‘Competency Assessment’ can trigger some pretty strong negative emotions. I’m not unique in having sat through my share of tests, exams and annual performance evaluations; they aren't exactly my idea of entertainment. However, the assessments you conduct do not need to be formal, intimidating, expensive or difficult to be effective.   

Here is a simple way to approach it, take your skills grid and present it like this:

 

Then try one of the following:

·       If you know your people well enough, create a simple scale that meets your culture and grade them on each skill.

·        My favorite approach is to be open with the team, let them know you are trying to determine where to invest in professional development and ask them to self-grade themselves.

The point is, if you don’t have any skill data today, taking an informal approach is the way to start. Sure, down the line, if you can show a regular pattern on how these data gathering activities drive professional development and personal growth, you will want to improve the system you use to baseline current skills. For now if you are just getting started, keep it simple. Your goal is to blend the Team Skill Assessment with the Team Skills Grid:

  

Once these two views come together we arrive here:

 

This is the golden nugget. With this document I can sit with a client and transition from a shotgun approach to a very specific set of training initiatives, with each tied to specific projects (which in turn should have their own target impact). In our next post we’ll look at this specific example, analyse it and propose a set of initiatives that are directly tied to business needs.

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