According to a slightly dated but still relevant research, top performers are 400% more productive than average workers in an organization. For a SaaS company, these “10x developers” could very well be responsible for accomplishing about 80% of the work your team gets done.
Skilled developers are hard to find as is. So, when you have heavy lifters in your team, it’s important to give them every opportunity to grow and enhance their skill set; thereby helping your business in the long run. One of the ways you can do this is through ingraining a continuous skill assessment process into your work day.
Yes, you already did a skill assessment when hiring your team.
However, it shouldn’t just stop there.
Let me tell you why. According to a 2018 McKinsey Global Institute report, as many as 375 million workers (approximately 14% of the global workforce) will have to change by 2030 because of digital transformation, automation, and advancements in Artificial Intelligence.
This rapid rate of tech advancement has opened up a ‘skill gap’ in our industry. Businesses are looking to predict upcoming needs and trends and be product-ready for the future, but they are working with teams that are not equipped to handle these demands. Many companies focus on hiring developers who can fill an immediate gap, rather than on people they can develop over the course of a career. Add to this the demands of a rapidly changing workplace and further gaps soon appear.
This skill gap, if left unchecked, can cause:
- A loss in productivity across your tech teams
- A higher rate of attrition among your top developers
- Lowered employee morale
- A dip in work quality
- Roadblocks in business expansion
- An inevitable loss of revenue
When you extrapolate these problems out across the entire tech industry, the issues become even more significant. Talent shortages caused by the skill gap could become widespread, recruiters would have a hard time finding role-specific personnel, and most importantly; there could also be a lack of skilled managers to train novice team members. Building future-ready teams in the present would then just be a pipe dream.
Currently, most companies fix this skill gap short term by outsourcing or hiring more contract/temporary workers. This is, however, not a strategic long-term solution. The better practice is to hire good developers and help them grow and adapt to changing business needs through constant learning and development.
Research shows that companies that invest in L&D see a 10% increase in their employees’ productivity. Upskilling teams is also considerably more cost-effective than replacing members with new hires. Apart from providing high quality learning content a critical step in creating an efficient L&D program is identifying the existing skill gap in your organization, and monitoring employee progress on a regular basis. This is where continuous skill assessment comes into play.
Suggested Reading: Building Future-Ready Tech Teams
Continuous skill assessment can amplify L&D.
Skill assessment can add to your organization’s learning and improvement program. When used properly, it’ll help you provide constant feedback on your team’s progress and problems, and intervene in a timely manner where needed.
With a well-structured continuous skill assessment process, you can easily:
- Define and create a skills inventory for your team
Begin by defining competencies needed for each job, or job family. Using a standardized framework will help you search and analyze the data to determine staff and skills gaps.
- Assign individuals to teams or projects based on knowledge and skill set
IBM has a tool called Talent Match that allows leaders to identify employees with specific verified skills. A similar skills inventory for your workplace can help you put your best developer on the job every single time and get the best ROI for your effort.
- Create a learning culture
With the skills inventory in place, you can support a continuous learning culture in your organization where employees, managers, and teams are individually, and collectively, responsible for seeking out the knowledge or skills required. In addition, knowledge and skills are shared among teams, coaching and mentoring is done easily, and the end result is a more agile organization.
- Guard against groupthink
It is vital that members have formal structured learning so that everyone in the team has the scope and depth of skills needed to support each other’s work. This diversity in knowledge and expertise also has another benefit. It guards against groupthink which can very easily lead your team down the wrong path.
None of this, however, is a one-time activity.
Technology and related business needs are always changing, so it is important your skills inventory, and the skill assessment process also is adaptive.
I recommend leaders use an iterative approach to maintaining a continuous skill assessment program. For instance, skill competency reviews can be done in tandem with performance review cycles, thereby ensuring that teams are up to date with business requirements. This will also provide a better benchmark to adjust the skill assessment if so needed.
Keeping pace in a rapidly evolving world requires a workforce that is nimble, and can quickly identify the right skills and the people who possess them. This can only be done with a structured, standardized, and continuous model of skill evaluation and development.
As someone wisely said, innovation comes with learning, right?
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