In today’s fast-paced world, employees and companies face an increasing skill gap set that threatens the sustainability of businesses everywhere. Determining whether this is the result of an unfair expectation or inadequate training is only the first step. It is the responsibility of every professional to actively bridge the disconnect in skills for a smarter, united team.
There are a number of opportunities that can elevate the ability of your workers, and in turn the cohesion of your team. It is within their power as much as yours to make this change. A combined approach of workshops, open communication, further study and support is the key driver that will see employees cross the bridge, over to where the grass is greener!
Find the source
The difference between acknowledging and understanding a situation is significant. Discovering exactly where a problem lies requires empathy, a thorough knowledge of the business and genuine regard for your co-workers. If a person isn’t able to complete a task within the allocated team, always ask yourself, “why?” Is it their workload? Was the constraint unreasonable? The undeniable truth is that it is likely a combination of factors.
Review your team
You know what the problem is, but how do you allot responsibility? Reviewing the dynamic of your team constantly is a great way to assess individual strengths, weaknesses and improvements. While annual and quarterly reviews are insightful, a commitment to realising the changes in your team as they happen will help to prevent mistakes and encourage fast growth. Sometimes, we as professionals can tend to be critical of others before ourselves – in reality, every employee should own their own development.
Letting people know how they’re tracking will also tell them if they’re behind, even when they don’t realise it. Open communication is an absolute pillar of success. Remember, first and foremost you’re a team! Informing someone of where they need to improve should always be constructive and with the intention of moving the person forward. While this doesn’t mean shouting their flaws to the rooftops, it’s a good idea to sit down with your team and generate a positive discussion. Understanding your co-workers’ capacity and primary focus are good ways to ensure no one is put upon any more than anyone else.
You’re only as strong as your weakest player, so working together to build new skills and generate new ideas is something everyone should be invested in!
Great employees make great companies! Keeping that in mind, it’s a good idea for all project managers to stay involved and lead by example. Collaboration requires you to trust and invest in your team, bouncing ideas and sharing concepts to keep everyone across the board up to date with industry practice. Considering introducing weekly workshops for your co-workers so they can build on their current skills, access the latest updates and reap the rewards of real professional development.
Keep employees updated
New technology and practice are fast-paced, with trends emerging and disappearing every day. A large amount of the theory taught in university becomes outdated once you actually enter the industry, and learning on the go is the best solution to this. While workshops are an excellent starting point, all professionals should be encouraged to explore their knowledge through further study.
The secret to being an outstanding professional is to be a lifelong learner, with access to new ideas and ways of learning, while you work. Returning to the classroom is a great experience for established professionals, who can now enjoy the benefits of in-demand, digital and accessible content – exactly the way the modern world likes it.
Offer Support & incentives
Upskilling can be stressful and demanding even for the best of us, but the end result is invaluable. Being able to absorb and apply new information, and take control of your own professional development is a short-term challenge, for a long-term win. Crucial to this process is that a support system is in place, particularly around the project leader who is looked to as a mentor.
In addition to great support and advice, an incentive is the best way to motivate and inspire employees to aim higher. The prospect of genuine growth and reward can do wonders as much as an open acknowledgement of appreciation. Letting your co-workers know that you’ve recognised their efforts will encourage others to do the same.
Ultimately, when it comes to fixing skill discrepancies in any working team, it’s perhaps most important that these gaps are viewed as an opportunity for leaps and bounds, rather than an obstacle.
About the author: Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning. She is passionate about lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas.