The Journey of Employee Skill Growth
Every employee in your company possesses a certain number of skills and these skills are likely at different levels of proficiency. Your talent could also have additional skills that the business might not be aware of at all. To obtain an accurate picture of all of these skills, organizations must have a way to evaluate and understand this data. Employees’ skill should be assessed when they enter the organization, but also throughout their career. This ensures that their skills are developing, working towards closing skill gaps, and remaining agile over time. You may not be aware that employees’ skills travel through multiple steps in this journey. In this article, we will review the five steps in an employee’s skill journey and their benefits.
Why is it important to understand the journey of a skill?
Skills will need to grow, change, and stay updated to remain relevant to current work demands as well as to your industry. Additionally, technology will continue to progress and demand new skill sets of talent as the business progresses. If your employees aren’t moving through the stages in a constant and fluid way, growth and continuing education can be stalled or worse, skill gaps can form.
The journey of a skill can be broken down into five different stages.
Assess: What are my skills and strengths?
Validate: How can I validate my skills?
Develop: How can I improve my skills and their proficiency levels?
Rate: How well am I applying my skills to my job?
Credential: How can I track proof of competence?
Your company may have a skills taxonomy or organizational system in place to understand and categorize all the skills within your company. If not, this is a good place to start on your path to understanding where your employees are with their skills. Once skills are categorized and assigned to job roles, employees can start to provide feedback about how proficient they believe they are at a given skill. This is where a skills assessment can be a valuable method for beginning the journey in the lifecycle of your employees’ skills.
Once skills are self-assessed, how do you ensure that employees’ evaluations are accurate? Self-bias and inaccurate data can be a result of unchecked self-reporting. Therefore, we need to validate their assessment with a manger review. Having a subject-matter expert weigh in on the assessment will also allow us to determine the level of proficiency of each skill, just like a teacher assigning grades to their students.
When employee and manager assess and validate skills, skill gaps or a difference in proficiency rating can occur. Learning and development is the solution to closing these gaps and growing new or existing skills. Closing skill gaps can support efforts in working toward an aspirational career move, career path, and even help you to become a candidate in a succession pool. Development can also begin the process of upskilling employees to advance their current career path or reskill them for new roles or departments in the company.
While validating skills gives a starting point for development, rating looks at how well a skill is being utilized on the job daily. An employee may have a skill that falls at a certain proficiency level but knowing this information alone doesn’t tell us how well they are performing this skill at their assessed level. Ratings often come after an annual performance review, but they can also be calculated sooner if wanted or needed. This step is in place to help determine your organization’s ROI on your talent’s skill journey. It answers the question of, how well are they using developed skills to pursue organizational goals?
Once talent has developed proficiency in a set of skills, a certificate or credential can be awarded to quantify their skills. This can help easily identify their skill knowledge and proficiency level moving forward. It serves as an easy way to communicate their skill progression and accomplishments, both internally and externally.
Let’s look at an example of an employee moving through the 5 stages:
Peter Gibbons is working as a programmer at the company, Initech. He self-assesses his skills, such as, the computer languages required for his job, his ability to problem solve, and his mathematics education. He will then self-assign his proficiency level in each skill. After his assessment, his skills are validated by his boss, Bill Lumbergh. Bill will confirm or reject that Peter has the skills that he provided and then rank his current proficiency level on each skill. From here, Peter will see the path of development he needs to progress in his career. Once it’s time for Peter’s annual performance review, Bill will review with him how well he is utilizing his skills at work and give him a rating. Once Peter has moved through multiple proficiency levels in his skills, he can look at receiving a credential to back up his skill journey!
As we can see through Peter’s example, a skill evolves over time. Traveling through the skill journey will be an ongoing process to build his knowledge and proficiency level. Moving through this process builds on itself because of the continuous nature of skills and how we interact with them. As talent moves through proficiency levels in current and new skills, they will move through the journey of a skill again and again. Each skill will go through the five steps as they move from a basic skill level to then intermediate, advanced, and expert. They can also move through the journey with many different skills at many different stages. This process allows for continuous employee growth and development to help them be prepared both now and in the future.
If you want to begin the process of helping your employees achieve a holistic skill journey, where do you start? The short answer is that you need an all-in-one platform, not a point solution for each step. Progressing and monitoring this cycle requires in-depth skill data analysis that is available quickly, is updated regularly and communicates across all steps in the journey of the skill. You’ll need a way for your talent assessment to connect with your manager review process and be able to pull skill information from the company database to create career paths. This will allow your employees to have a clear development path and then be graded on their individual progression accurately. Once certificates or credentials are earned, they must be logged and attached to each employee’s profile in a way that is easy to see. This allows them to be updated accordingly if they include expiration or renewal dates to avoid certification lapses and work delays. This organizational communication helps businesses obtain a large-scale, accurate picture of all their internal skills. In turn, having access to data and resources at each step of the process, creates a culture of learning that helps skills remain optimized and allows employees to be better prepared for both now and the future.
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