Five Steps To Closing Skills Gaps in Your Office

Start by identifying areas of weakness.

Even if you’ve got a championship team in your law office, there are probably skills gaps that are hampering your success.

You can fill these gaps by making an assessment of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses and offering specialized training to bolster deficiencies.

“Everyone has professional strengths that they bring to the table, but they also have areas of weakness or less expertise,” says Sean Peek for the US Chamber of Commerce publication CO. “Ideally, your team will have a balanced profile of abilities. In some cases, however, people may have skills gaps that prevent them from doing their job most effectively. It’s important to identify skills gaps, in both yourself and in your team, to ensure all your bases are covered.”

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Here are some pointers – courtesy of Sean Peek and CO – for filling your team’s gaps:

Step One: Know what a “skills gap” is. It refers to the difference between the skills required for a position and the skills an employee actually has. The gap can exist in communication, interpersonal relations, organization or even math/accounting skills. Because technology changes almost daily, tech skills are particularly susceptible to gaps.

Step Two: Identify key skills in your office. “Consider not only the skills your team needs right now but also the ones it may need in the future,” writes Peek. “You may elect to rank these skills using descriptors (e.g., high/moderate/low) or numerical scales (e.g., 1 through 5, with 1 ‘being ‘inexperienced’ and 5 being ‘expert’).”

Step Three: Ask your employees. What skills do they think they need to become more valuable team members and to further their own careers? “Your employees can not only provide valuable insight, but since they’ve been involved in the process, they may prove to be even more invested in closing the skills gap.”

Step Four: Measure current skill levels. For individuals, the goal is to see how their skills stack up to their job requirements. For the firm as a whole, the goal is to pinpoint areas of team strengths and weaknesses. “Use surveys or assessments, employee interviews, information from performance reviews or even skills management software to help you gather the necessary information,” says Peek.

Step Five: Train or hire to fill in the gaps. “Once you have identified any gaps between current and desired skills, you’ll need to take action,” according to this article. “Relevant training … could be a workshop on new software, a seminar on a rising issue in your field or even on-the-job training for recent hires. If your skills gaps cannot be covered by training or you only need a skill for a specific project, you may choose to hire new employees or contractors to close the gap. If hiring full-time or permanent employees, carefully evaluate your current hiring process to ensure you’re getting the right candidates on board. Don’t be afraid to look for passive candidates that may have the skills you require.”

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