How a New Manager Can Perform a Team Skill Gap Analysis to Identify What’s Working, What’s Not Working, and What Needs Improvement

When you’re placed in charge of a team, your natural instinct is to guide them to greatness using your own management skills. But as a manager, you can’t achieve this unless you really have a good grasp of what your team is capable of. Without this understanding, you run the risk of either not pushing your team to their full potential, or pushing them beyond their limits. Neither situation is likely to result in the development of a strong team that truly delivers. 

You’re not the first manager to feel confused about how to guide your team from where they are now, to where they need to be in order to meet business targets, and you certainly won’t be the last. Fortunately, there is a method that can be used which forms a roadmap to help you visualise the journey to greatness, and implement necessary measures to bridge any gaps in your team’s knowledge which could delay them reaching their goals. It’s called a skill gap analysis, and it’s an essential tool that managers can employ to reskill and reallocate essential talents where they’re needed. 


What is a Skill Gap Analysis?

A skill gap analysis is intended to provide you with two things: a clear overview of what your team is currently able to achieve with their existing skill set and experiences, and a list of the additional skills and experiences that are essential for meeting the targets set by the board. The technique allows for any discrepancies between the two to be addressed efficiently and effectively, bridging the gap and ensuring that you have the right skills, in the right place, at the right time to deliver excellent results and satisfy your superiors. 

Skills gaps within teams are very common, with insights from McKinsey reporting that 87% of businesses feel that they are currently facing a skills gap, or will develop one within the next five years. There are three reasons why skills gaps in teams can occur:

  1. Emergence of new skills as a result of the implementation of new technologies
  2. Evolution of existing skills as businesses embrace new ways of working
  3. Expiration of outdated skills that are not in demand in modern organisations

Performing a skill gap analysis early on in your managerial career is key to developing a strong and successful team. As a new manager, you may not have previous insight into the capabilities of those under your leadership, and even if you have worked with these individuals before, their abilities are likely to be perceived differently from a managerial perspective than they were when you were just ‘one of the guys’. 

A lack of available skills in teams can be detrimental to overall success. According to research firm PwC, a lack of skills can result in an inability for teams to effectively innovate, a loss of market opportunities, missed growth targets and delayed initiatives. 


How to Conduct a Skill Gap Analysis

There’s no right or wrong way to conduct a skill gap analysis, and your approach should be tailored to the needs of your team and business if you’re keen to generate useful insight. However, there are three steps that should be included in your strategy:

1. Who?

The first step should be to determine which members of your team you want to analyse. Your strategy may include everyone due to the scale of different personality types in your team, or just those working on a specific project, or within a specific area. It really depends on the manner of the gap you’re looking to close. It’s also important to consider how you’ll gather the data you’ll need. Possibilities include your own experience with the individual or a past manager’s experience, assessments and self-assessments, HR documentation, and monitored performance.

2. What?

The second step is to momentarily forget about your team. Instead, imagine that you don’t yet have a team, and are looking to hire from scratch. What sort of roles would you recruit for, and what sort of skills would you need to bring onboard to help achieve your goals? How can you build a good team culture to ensure productivity, efficiency and a smart use of resources? It may be useful to draft up some mock job adverts here, helping you to visualise what’s important to you, and which talents are most likely to have the biggest impact on your way of working. This gives an idea of where your team needs to be. 

3. How?

The third step is to analyse the data that you’ve collected from steps one and two and look at how they compare. Are the existing skills of your team in line with the talents you need to succeed, or are there notable gaps between them? Where are these gaps, and what key talents are you currently missing that you could implement in the future? The ‘how’ stage of the skill gap analysis procedure should provide you with the insight you need to take action, introduce change, and find the right training for your staff. As part of this process, you may determine that it could be beneficial to participate in some leadership online courses yourself, in order to better steer your team.


Turning Results into Actionable Insight

The obvious plan of action after conducting a skill gap analysis is to review the strengths and weaknesses of your team and reallocate skills to boost the strengths while minimising the weaknesses. However, it is possible to leverage the data and insights that you’ve uncovered to do more and optimise your approach to ensure top outcomes.

What’s working: Learn from what’s already working within your team. Borrow lessons from success and apply these lessons to underperforming areas. Transition team members from high performing areas to those that are struggling and would benefit from extra support. 

What’s not working: In underperforming areas, consider bringing in those with adjacent skills; those skills that do not 100% bridge the gap, but which reallocate those that possess relevant and associated talents to breathe new life into these tasks. 

What needs improvement: Consider bringing new skills into this area, repositioning team members with the necessary skills to ensure that you are deriving the most value from your efforts. Reskilling can also be an effective solution to this particular problem. 


The Importance of Reskilling

For the majority of managers, the solution to bridging the skills gap is to rehire. In fact, across Europe, MicKinsey reports that 67% of businesses look to hire the skills they need, while a smaller 61% consider reskilling. As a new manager, it’s important to understand just how important reskilling to bridge the gap can be in terms of building a great team.

McKinsey reports that reskilling over rehiring can boost employee satisfaction, customer experience, likelihood of internal promotions, internal and external brand perception, employee retention, and bottom line growth… all aspects that can be traced back to your efforts to get to know your team. Reskilling through necessary training courses and learning opportunities positions you as a leader that feels responsible for your team, cares about its success, and is willing to do what’s needed to develop your people both personally and professionally to drive success and generate impressive results. 

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