Skill and performance gaps crop up in every workplace. Jobs, technologies, and even demand change over time. When this happens, recognizing and working to fill performance gaps is crucial to maintaining results and productivity inside your team.
In most cases, performance gaps are the direct result of missing skills inside your team. This could show up as lack of development for team members or missing team members.
The best short-term strategy is to use direct intervention to bridge these gaps with training and hiring, but long-term goals should involve using competency models and frameworks to account for skills gaps before they occur, so that employees are hired, developed, or directly trained to prevent them.
Identify Performance Gaps Correctly
Correctly identifying performance gaps and their source is one of the most important elements of correcting them. Performance gaps can stem from numerous sources, but common reasons include;
- Lack of job knowledge
- Changing job requirements
- Lack of understanding of the role due to improper hiring
- Ineffective management
- Physical or emotional conditions in the workplace
- Leadership and structural problems within the organization
Properly identifying performance gaps may mean bringing in a third-party depending on your existing resources and ability to properly assess your organization.
It’s also a good idea to use multiple data sources such as KPIs, employee assessments, and leadership assessments, which you can then use to cross-validate results.
Train Employees in New Hard Skills
Changing technology often means that employees who were previously very good at their job can no longer use their relevant skills, which often results in a performance gap.
Using competency frameworks and clear job profiles will help you to identify which skills are necessary for the role, which can help you in offering training and development to those who need specific skills to perform.
Use Leadership Development to Prevent Performance Gaps
Leadership and management problems are often a direct cause of performance gaps, especially when high performers are promoted from a technical to a leadership role.
Some high performers make the switch effectively, but many may continue to perform in technical roles, micro-managing teams and doing work themselves instead of empowering their team. This will result in a lack of motivation and a huge performance gap.
Integrating leadership development to ensure that leaders and management know what is expected of them and how they should perform in their roles will help prevent this.
Address Workplace Culture and Environment
Workplace and cultural problems often dramatically affect performance and productivity, with issues stemming from a lack of emotional intelligence, poor communication, and even the actual office layout.
These issues can be identified through assessments, and must often be fixed by taking direct action on specific instances (such as offering communication and teamwork workshops), giving training in emotional intelligence, or creating more flexible and agile workplace solutions.
Integrate a Competency Framework
A good competency framework will help you to recognize and address performance gaps more quickly by creating a foundation to assess and monitor individual role productivity. Competency frameworks recognize what good performance looks like (rather than simply skills), which can help you to review when performance is being affected and how, so you can take steps to correct issues on an individual level.
Performance gaps are a major problem in many teams, but they are often related to leadership, direct skills gaps, or lack of motivation. Integrating good HR tools will help you to assess and solve these problems more quickly, while preventing them in the future.