Every aspect of work is evolving and these changes are necessitating new sets of skills. For example, a few years ago, it was uncommon for people to speak about the intersection between professional and personal lives. Work and personal lives were seen as two separate entities that rarely collided. It was almost a taboo to talk about personal affairs while at work. But nowadays, there are open talks about professional and personal lives and how one can maintain balance in both. This has led many people to seek training on time management, self-organization skills, soft skills, and other areas.
For a company to fully adapt to changes in the industry, every staff members should have the necessary skills. But how do you know if and when your team knowledgeable enough to handle the changes or needs training in a specific area? Here are some tips:
- Changes in the market or company
When there are massive changes in the market, then the list of essential skills changes and it makes sense to equip your team with the necessary skills if they are not sufficient.
A good example is the shift of workplace from the office to home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work was a new concept to many people. Some were sent home with a computer and funds to set up home offices, but what they did not know is that remote work is more than having an office at home. As a result, there were many reported cases of technical difficulties such as video conferencing and a significant number of people could not connect without support from the IT department. Many cases were disguised as jokes where some people could not share files during video calls or connect or disconnect to audio devices. Some meetings took longer than expected and in some cases, the objectives were not achieved. While there is nothing wrong with seeking help, people who embraced the shift from physical to remote work and gathered information on how to resolve common technical issues early were able to handle the tasks quickly and smoothly.
From this example, it is correct to say that whenever there are changes in the industry or the company, it is important to assess what is needed versus what is available and offer training where necessary.
- Industry predictions
Predictions, when given by industry experts, are often the result of tiny bits of change conglomerated to give a big picture in a specific area. Predictions show where the industry is headed and what will be expected of the players.
For example, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were predictions that the nature of work could change due to the rise of online businesses. Some people started preparing early by learning about the technical aspects of working from home and balancing work and personal lives. When the pandemic hit, this was the lucky lot that transitioned smoothly.
While not all predictions become reality, some can give you a glimpse of where the industry is headed and help you to make an informed decision on how to develop talent in the company.
Observation is one of the best ways to tell if your team needs training in a subject or not. This method gives both qualitative and quantitative feedback about the knowledge levels of your team. It is also a suitable method of assessing knowledge levels in a specific subject for a particular department or the entire team.
You can gather cues of whether training is necessary from the ease or difficulty of an individual or team to handle some tasks, the time taken, the nature of communication, final presentation, and others. To gather credible information, it is best to let people be in their natural state of working rather than informing them that they are under observation.
- Surveys and interviews
You may not recognize all the needs through observation. In such cases, it is best to take up other methods that can help you to validate and deepen the information through surveys and interviews.
Well designed surveys consisting of open and close ended questions with scales and projective questions can help you to gather detailed information about your team’s skills set. When anonymized, they can also further improve the credibility of the information and allow the team to open up even more.
Open communication with your team members on their ability to handle certain tasks is another effective way of assessing the need for training. Depending on how you steer the conversation, employees will either give scanty information or a lot of insights that can help you determine whether to plan for a training session or not.
- Current industry’s needs
A good standard of the necessary skills is the industry’s needs. If your team is not meeting the standards, then they need additional training in the areas they are lagging behind.
- Skills set and performance of other companies
Comparing your team’s skills set alongside other companies that are either in the same or different industry can help you to determine whether the team is amply trained to handle some activities. While comparing, it is best to investigate why a company could have invested in a specific training program and not the other. The idea is not to train your team in every subject that you come across, especially from your competitors, rather to use the feedback from the comparison to make informed decisions.
Skills training helps companies to close knowledge gaps and build a bridge of excelling in current and upcoming jobs. But the training is as important as knowing when and if you should engage in it otherwise it would be a poor financial investment if the program is too late or outdated.
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