5 tips for successful skill management

by Apr 11, 2022Competency Management

In many companies, skills management or competency management does not always bring the expected success. Skill management often fails again and again due to the same problems. For example, contrary to expectations, no further training measures can be taken, or hidden employee strengths remain undiscovered. This may be due to poor and outdated data quality of skills data or a lack of structured overview of skills. We have collected 5 empirical values, which can be implemented quickly and have already led to improvement in many companies.

Practical experience #1: Define requirements precisely

Errors often occur when creating a competency catalogues, which usually only come to light much later. It happens again and again that companies do not define the prerequisites for the acquisition of a certain competence or ability precisely enough. Everyone is tempted to evaluate competencies or skills subjectively. Either one tries to measure and evaluate competencies according to one’s own abilities or one imagines certain persons who are expected to have this competence. In order to evaluate competencies objectively, clearly defined prerequisites for abilities are needed, which are ideally measurable and comparable.

This may sound very simple and logical, but nevertheless, in many organizations, competence catalogues are found which do not follow a clear definition of skills. Consequently, it is difficult for companies to perform a target-actual comparison of competencies. Key competencies or a Single-Point-Of-Knowledge cannot be determined, and companies run the risk of not carrying out target-oriented succession planning.

In our experience, competencies should have a clearly understandable title. This helps to assign the competence to a category or an organizational unit. In addition, it requires a clear definition and measurable requirements for competence. In the best case, competencies can be linked to each other in order to create clear prerequisites for competencies.


Practical experience #2: One employee meeting is not enough

Since it should be in the interest of every organization that employees increase their knowledge and experience, this should also be supervised accordingly. In many companies, employee appraisals are used to compare the external image and self-image of competencies. The goals of employees are discussed and agreed upon. In the best-case interests and strengths of employees are recorded, in order to consider them later in the work.

Employee appraisals give companies a good opportunity to accompany employees on their development path. As a company, you not only get an insight into the development progress of each employee, but you also give employees the opportunity to actively participate in their own development, and employer engagement in career development. In addition, as a company, you show that the development of your employees is important to you and that you are therefore willing to invest time.


Practical experience #3: Create a “bottom-up” competency catalogue

When creating an internal competence catalogue, a company can do a lot of things wrong. Often, errors only become apparent much too late and correcting the problem involves a great deal of effort and is therefore not done at all. One challenge we encountered, again and again, was the recording of competencies in an organization. How do you get all the experience, skills or knowledge captured in one system?

In our experience, the first thing you need is a basic structure. A basic framework of competency categories that subdivides and structures knowledge, experience, or skills in a comprehensible way. For example, technical, administrative and communication skills. Subcategories can help to divide large categories, such as technical skills, into smaller categories, such as programming, hardware, and so on. Then, individual competencies should be added to the different categories. These individual competencies serve as examples and help to understand the overall structure.

Once this basic structure of competency categories is in place and the first example competencies are entered, the “bottom-up” approach begins. Here we have found that employees can contribute very well to shaping the competency skill catalogue. Through suggestions and the participation of individual employees from different organizational units, a representative catalogue of competencies can be created.


Practical experience #4: Initially, few competencies are acquired

A company grows with the skills and experience of its employees. Successful skills management should make exactly that possible.

When creating a skills catalogue, it seems intuitive to capture as many skills as possible at first.

In our experience, it is advisable to consciously record fewer competencies in the beginning and to define and structure them clearly. Each company structures its competencies differently, as each company has gained individual experience and knowledge. Therefore, we advise focusing more on quality than on quantity in the beginning. Once a clear definition of competencies has been found and a structure of competencies has been established, thecompetency cataloguecan be filled. As already mentioned in practical experience #3, it is advisable to follow a “bottom-up” approach here. This way a representative data set can be built up and possibly unknown skills can be captured.

Practical Experience #5: Use a system and no, Excel is not a system.

Our 5th and last experience value, refers to the technical support of Skill Management. Here we have made the experience that it is advisable to use a system, which was developed for the solution of Skill Managment.

No, Excel is not a viable solution. Often when using Excel, skills date is not being kept up to date, employees find them not accurately represented and information gets lost. Furthermore, an Excel-based solution often leads to an unnecessarily complex and time-consuming effort in programing it.

The goal of skill management should be to obtain an accurate and up-to-date set of employee competencies, which in turn enables different personnel development measures. Skill management solutions based on Excel have often proven to be unreliable and inaccurate in the past. From a certain company size and structure, often already from 30 employees, it requires specially designed skill management solutions that can map and manage certain processes.

If you are interested in a modern and adaptable skill management solution? Then have a look at our skilltree page (applications) or get a free software demo and convince yourself.


About the Author

Simon Löwy

Simon Löwy

Simon is co-founder of Skilltree. He writes in this blog on topics such as new work, human resource management and personnel development.

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