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What’s the one thing that all businesses have in common?

They all possess the same #1 asset – the employees! That’s right…human capital.

The skillful utilization of human capital is a necessary requirement for managers of all levels, often determining the success or failure of an organization. To be successful, organizations must empower employees who want to help grow the company as well as themselves.

A great place to get started is by conducting a skills inventory. Once you have your list of critical skills needed for each of the essential roles in the company, if not for every role, you can then conduct a skills inventory.

A variety of methods can be used for assessing the skills of a workforce – such as Observation, Simulation, Questioning, and Testing. All of these are valid methods that can be used to gather the information needed for a skills inventory but I want to focus on the simplest of methods that require the least amount of resources. They are:

  1. Self-Assessment
  2. Manager’s Assessment
  3. Combined Self- and Manager’s Assessment

A. Self-Assessment

Self-assessments (without manager input) are generally used in low-risk situations, such as this skills inventory compilation. They tend to be most effective when completed by self-directed professionals who understand the purpose of the inventory, and when an atmosphere of trust exists for the employee with both their manager and the organization. Regardless of an employee’s understanding of a skills inventory, an introductory overview to the skills inventory and Self-Assessment should be provided in advance.

As the most simple approach, it is the quickest to set up and easiest to implement. Each employee is given their list of previously-compiled skills, along with other skills that the organization has identified as being critical to that role (for example, a Project Manager must be well-organized).

The employee then rates his or her own proficiency level for each skill using a pre-determined rating scale which can be subjective (for example, Extremely Proficient, Somewhat Proficient, Proficient, Somewhat Ineffective, Extremely Ineffective), or objective (for example, rated on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being Extremely Proficient).

A drawback of self-assessments is that they can be inaccurate and/or overstated, especially when an employee perceives that employment decisions may be impacted by the results. The objectivity of self-assessments can be enhanced by requesting that employees describe a situation or other evidence of when and how they have used or applied a skill.

B. Manager’s Assessment

Assessments can be provided by managers without an employee’s input. In this assessment, each manager rates his or her direct reports on the skills associated with each employee’s role, again on a subjective or objective scale. As with the Self-Assessment approach, an introductory overview to the skills inventory and Manager’s Assessment should be provided in advance.

The Manager’s Assessment is very useful for a skills inventory, and can be beneficial in competency model validation, employee selection, and succession planning processes.

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One drawback of the Manager’s Assessment is that sometimes managers are not always fully aware of their employees’ skill levels, and could inadvertently rate a skill higher or lower on the rating scale. Additionally, ratings could be influenced positively or negatively by a manager’s personal bias. Care should be taken to instruct managers during the introductory overview to be aware of their biases and alert them about rating employees differently because of those biases.

C. Combined Self- and Manager’s Assessment

In most cases an assessment that combines both self-assessments and manager’s assessments is the most accurate and reliable means of collecting dependable data on competency proficiencies. Employees and their managers can each take the same assessment separately, compare notes, and discuss any discrepancies that occurred. Another option is for the employee to take the self-assessment, followed by the manager reviewing a report of the collective competencies for all employees on their team. Further discussions can be held if necessary.

There you have it – a simple method to assess skills so you can create a skills inventory. I understand, however, that you may have a more complex set of workforce skills or a workforce too large to try to tackle this process manually. If so, then what you need is technology!

Avilar has developed an easy-to-use yet robust skills management software application, WebMentor Skills™, that takes care of the time-consuming tasks for you and helps organizations identify, analyze, and manage skills gaps within their workforce. Contact us – we’re always happy to help.