Royston Guest: Five steps to identifying the skills gaps in your organisation

Identifying your skills gaps is imperative. Skilled people in the right role can accelerate your business growth journey exponentially. Unskilled, or even experienced people in the wrong role, can set you back 12 months in a heartbeat and be an expensive lesson both in terms of real cash and missed opportunities.

For your people strategy to work to its highest potential, you must be able to move internal talent around, to switch roles between people, and identify gaps where you need to recruit new talent.

But where do you begin? Here are five simple steps to help you identify the skills gap in your organisation.

#1 Translate your strategic plan into your organisational design

The first step is to align your organisation’s business growth strategy and aspirational goals to your recruitment, training and development plans. Translating your strategic plan into your organisation design will help you identify both current and potential future gaps in leadership, front line capability, support functions and specialist or technical expertise. For example, today you might not have a dedicated person whose sole responsibility is customer experience, and that’s OK because today it’s not a full-time requirement. But the business growth plans may highlight this as a potential hire in 12 months. Are you going to create a new role within your organisational design or merge this into an existing position? Are you going to recruit externally or internally?

Looking at your skills gap strategically drives a more extended viewpoint and time horizon, ensuring you’re on the front foot with identifying and managing not only your people gap but also your skills gap.

#2 Determine whether your organisational design is function or personality-driven

There is a fundamental challenge, which happens in all businesses over time. Leaders stop viewing their organisational design from a functional perspective where roles are defined by the skills and attributes they need employees to have, and allow themselves to become personality-driven. The challenge with a personality-driven design is it can be emotionally driven; not always in the best interests of the business and certainly not based on the ‘best person for the role’.

Organisational designs get increasingly complex over time because companies tend to adapt the ideal design to their people rather than finding people who fit an ideal design. It’s counterproductive and often leads to compromises which make it harder to achieve the organisation’s aspirational goals.

So here’s what you can do. Once you’ve reviewed your current organisational design, in alignment with your strategic plan, the crucial next step is to remove all personalities from the boxes on your organisational charts and focus only on the functional requirements of each role.

Ignore for now that you have a salesman named Steve, who is currently working in face-to-face sales and instead, define the skills, experience, and qualifications an ideal salesperson would have if that role were fulfilled to its greatest potential. I’ll make a prediction right now: completing this exercise will have a profound impact on your thinking.

Once you have an aspirational picture of your organisational design, from a purely functional perspective, overlay your current roles and people to examine what your real skills gaps are and whether you need to implement additional skills training, reassign people into new roles, or hire new people altogether.

#3 Apply the 2P’s model . . . Performance and Potential

Assess the performance of your people in their current role combined with their longer-term potential for future roles and promotions.

#4 Assess performance in current role

In terms of performance in a current role, the what is about whether an individual functionally can get the job done and how well they do it. The how is whether they are living the company values by demonstrating the right behaviours and being a role model for their colleagues.

Are there any ‘what’ elements in individuals’ current roles that they struggle with or avoid doing because they either don’t know how to do it or haven’t the confidence to do it? Are there company values and behaviours which don’t align with specific team members. Take note; this could be a skills gap or a misalignment of values which will be harder to close. Values are deep-rooted, and if the values of the company don’t align with individuals, they might not be right for the organisation.

#5 Assess potential in current and future roles

In terms of potential , capability is about whether an individual can grow at the required pace. Some people reach a ceiling in terms of their capability, where others continue to stretch and grow. Aspirations, on the other hand, refers to whether an individual has the desire and will to want to grow, to better themselves and fast track their career. Having the will or desire or not, as the case may be, is neither right or wrong, it’s about what’s right for the individual.

If a team member is on a fast-track for the next big promotion, but they don’t want it, why invest time in developing them for it? Similarly, if an individual wants to be considered for the next promotion, what skill set do they need to focus on so that their name is on the table as a potential candidate?

Mapping out the what & how against an individual’s current performance and their capability and aspirations against their potential will give you a clear picture as to where the organisation’s current gaps are, where potentiality lies and where developmental efforts should be applied.





Royston Guest is a global authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. He is CEO of Pti-Worldwide, a global consultancy and training company with a proven track record in delivering business growth, personal development and peak performance. He is also the founder of livingyourfuture™ and the author of #1 best-selling business growth book, Built to Grow and new book RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead.

Driving sustainable business growth fast and unlocking the potential of individuals are Royston’s two professional missions. His clients include Metrobank, EE, Heinz, DHL, Virgin, Harrods, the NHS, ABTA, Virgin Holidays, Barclays, RBs, Santander, and Lloyds Black Horse to name but a few. Through exposure to an array of organisations and having worked with tens of thousands of people over the past two decades, Royston has created a set of breakthrough distinctions and insights into what it takes to unlock people potential and achieve greatness.