Mind the gap! Eight tips for a successful competence management

<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Mind the gap! Eight tips for a successful competence management</span>

hr-system Do you have full control over your employees’ knowledge and skills? Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses, your knowledge gaps and challenges? Competence management – making sure that the company has the right employees with the right competence, today and tomorrow – is an increasingly important task. But how does it work on a practical level? And what are the greatest benefits of keeping a close watch on the employees’ skills? Let us guide you! The demands for cutting-edge expertise is becoming an increasingly important competitive advantage for business in all sorts of sectors. How does the company manage to future-proof its competencies to make sure it survives on a rapidly changing market? Competence analysis is a tool that helps the company in getting an overall grip of its competencies and its competence development. It is a matter of mapping which competence fields the company has to focus on to reach its goals, on a short-term and a long-term basis. What are the company’s most crucial and business-critical competences today? In two years? It is also a matter of inventing the skills and knowledge represented among the employees today and to compare it with your desired status – where do we have our strengths and weaknesses, threats and possibilities? What gaps in competence and knowledge do we need to fill?

Keeping track of you competencies – a worthwhile investment

Getting started with competence management in a structured way is a highly demanding task. But as a matter of fact, it’s an investment that is likely to prove worthwhile in the long run. If you invest in a digital tool, this also means that quite a few working hours can be cut and that you will have access to a smooth and effective workflow – for all parties. For managers and HR one of the main advantages is that you will be able to clearly distinguish where there is a shortage of knowledge and skills, what is commonly referred to as competence gaps. This makes it easier to make decisions concerning recruitment and skills development – to be able to know which direction you are heading for you must first know where you stand today. When looking at it from the employee’s point of view, it will also be a clear and transparent way of working as everyone can see how they are doing in terms of their competence profile and what is required for reaching the next level in their career.

The competence analysis helps you to mine out your hidden talents! However, it doesn’t stop there, here are some additional advantages with a structured competence management:

  • Complete and searchable overview The company will have access to have a complete competence database that makes it easy to filter out specific competencies for a certain assignment, e.g. when you need someone who masters a certain language or some specific application. A good support for matching the right candidate to the right task, quite simply.
  • Secures your future competence supply The competence analysis helps the company to work proactively with issues revolving around competence supply. Firstly, you will be able to discover where there is vulnerable competence, that is, competence that only a few individuals have. Secondly, you will be able to see where there is critical competence, that is, competence that might be hard to replace by recruiting new staff.
  • Helps the company to mine out hidden treasures Dig where you stand! What if the right competence is already at place and you don’t have to recruit (which is far more time-consuming and expensive)? The competence analysis helps you to mine out your hidden talents!

How to succeed with your competence management – eight tips

Don’t get stuck in the inventory stage, use clear definitions and take advantage of the benefits that come with a modern HR system. Here are eight tips that help you to make sure the most of your efforts.

  1. Make a competence inventory A scenario familiar for a lot of managers: You are standing in front of an employee who has worked at the company for a handful years or so. The person’s resume is long forgotten and you have to ask the question What exactly are you trained for, from the start, I mean? Or, you will tend to spend way too many minutes trying to figure out who was sent to that in-service training last year. With an up-to-date competence profile that will not be an issue. So, the competence inventory is the part of the competence management where you document the competences of each employee, preferably in a modern HR system alongside with other personal and employment related information. Such a competence profile may include everything from formal courses and certificates, to other types of knowledge and skills, such as language and computer skills or leadership experiences, together with a grading that tells you which level the employee fulfils.
  2. Take advantage of the staff appraisal Phew, now you have finally completed an extensive mapping of all departments. Time to sit back and relax! Hmm, not exactly! Now it’s time to find some suitable routine for maintain this treasure chest of information that your competence database entails. The staff appraisal is a perfect opportunity when managers and employees together can review and, if needed, update the competence profile to make sure that it reflects the actual situation. Also make sure you have functioning routines in place when it comes to documenting the competencies when a new employee embarks.
  3. Let your needs guide you One of the pitfalls you should avoid is allowing the competence work to remain a purely inventory as to who can do what at the company. Make sure you don’t get stuck there; try to adopt an overall perspective. Let the company’s main objectives and needs form the basis of your efforts by connecting the competence mapping to a need analysis. This is where you focus on issues like: What competencies are required in our roles today? Which of them are the most critical ones for allowing us to reach our goals? What are our obstacles in terms of competences, and how do we overcome them? In this way, you will get much more out of your competence work than what would be the case if you would simply list the courses and other merits of the employees.
  4. Use a competence matrix to aid the overview Once you have gained a clear image of the company’s competence needs and the status of the employees competences as of today, it’s time to see how well they match. What are the differences between the current and the desired status? For this purpose, a so-called competence matrix may be the perfect tool. It brings together the competence profiles for the individual employees to allow an overview for an entire group at the same time. In this way, you can easily identify competence gaps on a department level and have tools for building effective teams.
  5. Use clear definitions and gradings What exactly do we mean when we talk about customer services? And what does leadership skills mean according to us? It is important to make sure that the assessment of competencies is made in a consistent and coherent way throughout the organization. Therefore, take your time and discuss the meanings of the different concepts used and make sure that all definitions are documented. You should also carefully consider what types of gradings you wish to use for different levels of competencies to make sure that they reflect your actual conditions. In some cases, a simple yes/no will be sufficient, in other cases a more nuanced scale will be required, e.g. with digits or stars on a five point grading scale. Also make sure to specify what is needed to fulfill each level in a way that this is clear to everyone.
  6. Start in a small scale Time to take a new approach to your competence management but having concerns about how to get started? If so, we advise you to start off on a small scale, e.g. by selecting one department that gets to act as test group. Ask for feedback that helps you to fine-tune the process before you implement your new competence management on a full scale. Preferably, you can also limit the number of competences to a small number of core competencies that you find especially important to be able to monitor.
  7. Don’t forget the action plan Once you have gained a clear image of needs, current competencies, competence gaps and other critical factors, it’s time to establish an action plan. This is where you document the measures that should be taken in the light of your objectives. It could be the recruitment of new persons outside of the company, searching for talents within the organization or offering competence development to your employees, but also introducing mentorship or ways of other types of passing on skills and knowledge within the organization. Regardless of the measures you decide on, make sure they are connected to clear objective, a time plan and strategy for following up your results.
  8. Let the HR system do the job What does the competence management look like at your company? Do you have an effective system support that helps to make things easier? Or are your data spread out on several places, in your HR system, in Excel or even as loose paper sheets in binders, resulting in a great deal of manual work?

A smart way of achieving the overview, structure and smoothness that a well-functioning competence management requires is to go for a digital system support that collects all data concerning employees, competencies and competence development in a seamless flow. With the competence support in Flex HRM Employee – the cloud-based HR system – you can easily document and grade the employees’ competencies on an individual and a group level and quickly locate the right talents for your assignments. Competence matrices, spider charts and other graphics provide a perfect overview of the current status and help you visualize any competence gaps that need to be fixed. With Flex HRM Employee it’s just as easy as it sounds to secure the right competence in the right place – today and tomorrow. Read more about Flex HRM Employee

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