A successful company knows how to leverage its talent. It takes advantage of the diversity of skills, perspectives, and lived experiences of its staff to create the best version of whatever the company is offering. But as times change and technology advances the needs of companies change as well, and different skillsets are often needed to adjust to the new reality. If your team doesn’t have those skills your company has just identified a “skills gap.”
A skills gap is the gap between the skills an employee has and the skills in which they need to obtain to perform a job well. If you happen to be one of those employees affected by the changing needs of your workplace, you may need to upgrade your skills so you can remain of value to the company.
Of course, companies have to do their part to respond to skills gaps with their teams. They should be assessing their team’s skill sets, identifying the skill gaps of the team, offering training to teach employees new and needed skills, and hiring to fill in those skill gaps should also be an option. It’s also important that companies support employees as they learn those new skills and that the on-boarding process for new employees sets them up for success. But if you want to take charge of upgrading your skills to fill a gap in your team, here are some suggestions:
1. Self assess your own talent. Nobody knows you better than yourself, therefore you should self reflect on your overall body of work. Look at what you do well, what you do poorly, what you can improve on, etc.
2. Seek new opportunities. Welcome chances at the growth in the workplace, because practice is the best teacher. Look for secondment opportunities (working in other departments to learn new skills) and seek out stretch opportunities that force you to grow your skills.
3. Practice daily. Focus on a skill(s) that you wish to improve on and take time to work at it every day. It might mean taking an outside course or signing up for programs offered through your company’s learning and development division. And whatever you learn — Practice makes perfect!
4. Ask for help or feedback. For instance, if you know there is someone at your workplace who excels in a particular skill or just overall, ask them for some help with that skill or advice on what you could do to improve. Asking for feedback is important because often we’re too gentle (or sometimes too hard) when it comes to self-critiquing. Hearing it from someone impartial might give you a real sense of what you need to improve on.
5. Log your progress. This is a good way to keep yourself motivated when it comes to continuing to want to improve.
Knowing that the skills that companies rely on and value are changing, your ability to identify your own skill gaps and willingness to do something about it makes you a valuable employee for a changing company.