According to most dictionaries, we know that when there is something missing from a situation that prevents it from being complete or satisfactory, we can say there is a gap. A knowledge gap is a difference that is related to expertise, skills and know-how. It occurs when there is a significant disparity between what an organisation needs and the current capabilities of its staff.
Skills and knowledge gaps are one of the biggest roadblocks to successfully attaining business goals. Skills gaps lead to low performance and to increased costs, while also impacting motivation, engagement and retention. It is in every companies’ best interest to bridge these gaps through different actions: learning and development as well as organisational. Identifying knowledge gaps and its root causes is absolutely critical to ensure all internal processes can address any competency gaps on an ongoing basis. A skills gap analysis will not only help you pinpoint the skills you need to meet your business goals; it will also guide your employee development plans and your hiring pipeline, your succession planning and your mentoring and coaching initiatives.
How to conduct a knowledge gap analysis
In general terms, we advise you to follow a two-pronged approach. On one hand, you need to understand where you are at now (and we will give you pointers on what to look at in order to do so), and where you want to be in the future. Make sure you have a plan in place to collect accurate and realistic information; never assume you already have the answers.
1. Define your objectives and company / industry needs
Start by jotting down your objectives in a time-bound fashion. Where do you want to be in one year? And in five years’ time? There are a few other questions you can ask to help you do this: What relevant changes are on the horizon that we need to take into consideration? What is the industry telling us? What skills are currently becoming more necessary? You can get inspiration from content such as 100 jobs from the future and competitors.
2. Determine the necessary skills
You will then need to determine what key skills are needed to get to that future. Are they new technologies? New methods? What will your employees need to use both? How can you help them get there? As you anticipate the future, you are bound to start thinking about the present and the path from one to the other.
3. Assess where you are now
Now is the time to measure your current state. Industry experts agree that KPIs are one of the best sources to feed you skills gaps analysis. You should conduct an in-depth analysis of your KPIs to try and obtain an overall performance trend. You can also consider employee competency-based assessments, group discussions, 360 reviews and on-the-job shadowing and observation techniques. Your goal is to accurately map your employees’ current skills. Be careful to keep your results separate from your future objectives.
4. Identify the gaps
Once you have collected and analysed all this information, you will be able to identify what is lacking and what type of training (skills or otherwise) you need to make available to your employees or to different groups of employees. Simply put, the skills you need minus the skills you already have will give you your skills gap. Do keep in mind that different business units, and even different individuals, will have different needs and goals.
5. Prepare to bridge the gaps
Once you have all this information, you are ready to start acting on the data. Remember that training is not the only solution. A well-rounded plan will include hiring as well as utilising your internal resources to their full potential, through mentoring, coaching or shadowing programmes.
Although many times this analysis is made company wide, you can go through these steps to assess your team’s knowledge gaps. For example, if you are a Sales Director, you can use this framework to assess if your team or specific team members need more product training, or specific sales skills, or how to use your CRM properly, and so on.
As for providing the training, we can help. With the right training platform, and the help an experienced instructional design team, you will be able to create and share effective training that will help you bridge the knowledge gaps, in your team or company and encourage lifelong learning.
You may also find interesting:
How to implement a learning culture in your company (article)
12 Tips to choose the right training platform (article)
How to encourage lifelong learning amongst your employees (article)
Free tools for low cost professional looking video production (article)
How to get your team onboard with training without making it mandatory (article)
Would you like to learn more about how bugle can help you reduce knowledge gaps in your company? Let's talk.