Why skills mapping is key for agile teams

Avatar photo
By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

Aligning employee capabilities with projects and roles is essential. Here’s why:

When it comes to implementing skills-based strategies, many organizations are at a standstill. Although leadership teams are on board with the transformation, jobs remain the dominant unit of work because companies often lack the tools and mindsets needed to turn skills-based strategies into realities.

As innovation accelerates and new skill sets emerge, leaders struggle to effectively understand how their talent stacks up to market demands and where their skill strengths and gaps lie. Outdated perceptions and data on key jobs hinders the ability to know where to invest in upskilling and talent acquisition and where to reduce resources accordingly. Rather than letting this uncertainty impede transformation efforts, visionary organizations are turning to skills mapping to help them build a skill blueprint for every role and map out upskilling and headcount plans that align with business needs. What’s more, visibility into employee skill sets provides clarity on where their talent can add the most value in projects, gigs, and full-time roles.

By seamlessly aligning workers to opportunities at the skill level, these companies can quickly respond to new challenges and emerging priorities—equipping them with the level of agility that the new world of work demands.

What is skills mapping?

Skills mapping is the exercise of building a database of how skills align to each role in your organization and to each employee across the company. This ladders up to provide aggregate skill visbility within departments, geographies, and even organizations at large. Historically, this exercise has been done manually, through lengthy processes that quickly become out-of-date. Today, emerging skills intelligence tools like Gloat’s Skills Foundation are able to integrate with existing HR systems and use an AI-powered ontology to automatically map skills to jobs and keep this mapping updated in real time.

Once leaders have a clear picture of their required skills, they must also identify which skills already exist within their organization. Skills mapping allows executives to understand employees’ strengths and gauge how to best allocate their talent resources based on projects and demands they have coming up. It can also reveal each employee’s strengths and areas for improvement.

What are the advantages of skills mapping for Agile Teams?

There are several reasons why skills mapping is important for leaders who are looking to unlock agility in their teams, including 

  • Identify potential knowledge gaps
    As the pace of digital innovation accelerates and the half-life of skills shrinks, knowledge gaps are all but inevitable. While it may be impossible to entirely eliminate shortages in expertise, organizations that map skills to projects and roles will be able to proactively see where capabilities are falling short and create plans to bridge these gaps before they snowball into bigger problems—like dips in performance and productivity.
  •  Monitor every team’s progress
    Skill mapping also makes it easy for HR teams and leaders to identify critical skill areas to upskill in and focus investment. As development efforts are ongoing, skill mapping helps leaders keep a pulse on which employees and teams are effectively bridging these gaps. By gaining insight into the skills people have and how they’re expanding them, HR leaders can better understand which L&D and experiential learning opportunities are working well and develop best practices that hiring managers can replicate.
  • Empower employees to continue learning
    When leaders begin visualizing the skills their employees have, they can also start to uncover areas of focus these team members can prioritize to expand their expertise. Armed with these insights, managers and employees can sit down together to identify additional training opportunities and pinpoint specific skills they wish to hone in the coming months. When employees see their skills mapped, they can reflect on the capabilities they have, what they want to learn next, and how they wish to leverage their expertise.
  • Understand how to reallocate talent effectively
    The ability to rapidly shift gears differentiates agile teams from their competitors—but it’s almost impossible to achieve without skills mapping. Leaders and hiring managers need to know what skills are becoming out-of-date, and who has what expertise to tackle critical emerging needs. Skills mapping displays this information in a format that’s easy to understand, in turn empowering executives to swiftly move talent as priorities shift and new challenges emerge.

3 reasons why skills mapping is a must for agile teams

Need proof that skills mapping is a necessity for swifter response times and rapid pivots? Here are a few reasons why it’s such a game-changer for workforce agility:

#1. Skill mapping paves the way for seamless talent redeployments

For agile organizations, the ability to lift and shift their workforce to respond to emerging challenges is a business imperative. In order to make smart choices about which employees to move into various roles and opportunities, leaders must be able to see the knowledge their people possess as well as the transferable skills that will help them take on new challenges seamlessly.

#2. It prevents knowledge from going untapped

All too often, employees possess skills that leaders are entirely unaware of because they fall outside of their job domain or scope of work. Since it’s virtually impossible for hiring managers to keep tabs on all the knowledge their people have, organizations are turning to skills mapping to get a comprehensive picture of workforce capabilities.

To keep these skills inventories up to date, many companies are harnessing AI-powered skills intelligence tools like Skills Foundation, which creates a single source of truth for workforce skills that automatically evolves as employees hone new competencies.

#3. It helps leaders make strategic talent acquisition decisions

For agile organizations, one of the most difficult decisions to make is whether to bring in external talent or either borrow or upskill employees to get key projects across the finish line. If leaders opt to hire someone new when they already have most of the skills within their workforce, they risk losing money during the costly hiring process and wasting time bringing someone up to speed.

Rather than guessing when to hire and when to build or borrow talent, skills mapping makes it easy to determine who has the capabilities executives are looking for. Organizations that use a talent marketplace can even compare internal and external candidates side-by-side to see how their skills stack up.

To find out more about the advantages associated with aligning capabilities to open opportunities, check out our research report on workforce skills.

Gloat live On-Demand: 2 Days, 13 Sessions, 20 World Renowned Business Leaders

Watch now →