The Best Way To Identify and Track Your Team’s Hard and Soft Skills
As a business manager, you are constantly looking for optimal combinations of the various skills and capabilities of your workforce. You recruit and train based on specific requirements that will help you meet your business objectives. You build teams based on strengths and weaknesses that will produce the best performance.
You don’t just manage people, you manage skills. Therefore, you need to keep close tabs on your workforce’s current skills and capabilities in order to make effective, timely business decisions. 54% of organizations believe skills gaps are hampering transformation and competitiveness in their firms. Skills management has not only become essential to closing these skills gaps but also to driving successful business outcomes.
What is the best way to track, analyze, and manage your team’s skills? Let’s start by defining the two types of skills you need to track:
What is the Difference Between Hard and Soft Skills?
Hard skills are part of the skill set that is required for a job. They include the expertise necessary for an individual to successfully do the job. Hard skills are job-specific and are typically listed in job postings and job descriptions. Some examples of hard skills include code languages, data analysis, search engine optimization, or cloud architecture.
On the other hand, soft skills are attributes and personality traits that affect interpersonal interactions and while different, are also as important as hard skills in the workforce. Some examples of soft skills include leadership, work ethic, problem-solving, or accountability.
Track Hard Skills With Hard Data
Business managers can use education records, tests, and certificates to track hard skills. For example, a mechanical engineer would have a degree, test scores, and graded skill sets in his field. Hard skills' data is definitive and specific. You either have a credible skill, or you don't.
To effectively track hard skills, identify the requirements each role in your organization, team, or project. Use surveys, certificates, resumes, or test scores to determine if your employees' skills fit these requirements.
Track Soft Skills With Analysis
Soft skills are more difficult to track because collected data tends to be more subjective. For example, an employee may think he or she has excellent time management skills, while their manager may think their employee is average in this area. These skills tend to be evaluated based on opinion, observations, and experience.
To track soft skills, you need to be able to evaluate multiple perspectives. If you want reliable data, you can't rely on a single person's observation. If views don't match up, then it's worth investigating the discrepancy.
Analyze All Skills and Capabilities with Skills Planning
Skills planning is the best way to track and analyze both types of skills. This tool allows you to identify your current skills and capabilities of your workforce. It helps you recognize skill gaps and provide a clear vision for how your workforce needs to change or grow.
When you set up your skills planning tool make sure it has these essential capabilities that will allow you to see a clear picture of your hard and soft skills across your workforce. Your tool should enable you to:
1 | Easily Compare Results
Comparing results is especially important when analyzing soft skill evaluations. If you rely on manager and employee evaluations of soft skills, you need the ability to compare results like this easily:
Notice how you can easily identify discrepancies between the employee and manager assessments. This ability to compare is especially important in analyzing soft skill performance.
2 | See Large Quantities of Data
When you are trying to determine the overall state of your workforce or team, you need to have the ability to compare multiple skills across multiple people, teams, or departments. Skills planning that leverages data visualization can allow managers to analyze large quantities of skills, identify gaps, and make decisions efficiently.
Related Post: The Power of Data Visualization
3 | Break It Down To An Individual Level
On the same note, your skills planning tool should allow you to see a detailed view of your workforce. After you've identified a gap using a visualization like the one above, you want to get to the root cause by drilling down into individuals' skill sets. Where can your employees improve? How should you invest your resources? Who should you pair together to build top-performing teams? These questions can be answered through the details:
Hard and soft skills are equally important when it comes to producing high-quality business results. You should track all your skills in a skills inventory so you can identify gaps and make decisions efficiently.
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