Workplace training can be an extremely important activity to have your staff participate in, especially if you feel there is a particular skills gap that your staff could use some training on. If you have a certain time of the year where you schedule in a lot of training, you may be looking at what sorts of training sessions would be the most beneficial. This is a great time to see if you can identify any skills gaps in your staff to make sure that you arrange some training which will address this.

We take a look at some of the best ways of determining if your employees have a gap in their knowledge, so you can arrange the perfect training to help get them up to the standard you would expect.

Identify the Skills

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If you haven't already, now is the perfect time to sit down and really think about the skills your staff need to have. This may be different for different members of staff, depending on what their job entails. People who work behind the scenes will certainly have a different skill-set to those who are customer facing, so it's important to consider what everyone specifically needs. People will also need different skills depending on their level, as managers will need additional skills compared to other staff for example.

Make sure you draw up a skills list that you expect each staff member to have. You may want to sit down with their direct line manager to make sure you're getting an accurate representation of how staff in your workplace are expected to act, and how knowledgeable they have to be in certain areas.

Taking the time to write out what you want from staff will make it easy to see if your staff are living up to your expectations, or whether there is a gap that needs addressing. Gaps in knowledge could be because you've just realised they need trained in a certain area, staff not properly understanding their job role, or staff who have recently moved job roles and haven't received all the required training yet. Either way, you need to decide on the skills you want so identifying the gaps is easy, and you can start booking in the relevant training as soon as possible.

Ask Around

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A good way to see how your staff are performing is to gather feedback from the people they interact with on a daily basis. Whether this is customers, or just other staff in your workplace, it can be a great way to see how your staff are really performing on a day to day basis.

If your staff are in a customer facing role, it can be a good idea to offer the customers the ability to provide feedback on the service they received. This means you can see when your staff are doing very well, or perhaps when there are points they could be working on. However, it may be hard to rely on this type of feedback, as there is no way of making people fill it out, so you may not gather enough data to make an informed decision. Customers may also only fill out feedback forms if they had a very positive or negative experience, so you may miss out on the way your employees act on an average day as this may not be displayed in the feedback.

Another way to get feedback can be to ask the people who work with and around your employees. You can do this by asking people to fill out anonymous 360 degree feedback forms. A 360 degree feedback form is designed to evaluate an employee's performance from all sides. In order to get a clear picture of how your employee is getting on in the workplace you would ask them to fill out one themselves, as well as asking their manager, anyone who is managed by that employee, and people who work directly with the employee. This will let you see how they work in all the different aspects of their role, as they could be excellent at managing their own staff, but perhaps not as good at working with people outside their immediate team.

Create questions in the questionnaire which apply to the sorts of skills you expect your staff to have, and then you can see which areas they are falling short on. Questions are typically answered in the form of a numbered scale, so you can easily compare the answers from lots of different sources, and see which areas they may need some work in.

Finally, ask the staff themselves! Some people may be very aware that there is a gap in their knowledge that is affecting their work life, and are keen to get the correct training for it. If a lot of staff come back with similar answers, you can be sure that booking a training course around that issue would be a good decision.

Test Them

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This may not work for all the skills you require in your workplace, but if you have a particular skill that you can easily test, it may be the best way see how your staff are performing. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Role play. If you want to see how your staff are doing with things like interacting with customers that come into your place of work, or dealing with customer enquiries over the phone, role play may be the best way to get a general idea of this. While your staff may be on their best behaviour if they know they are being assessed, it will still give you a good idea of things like whether they are asking all the right questions, or whether they know how to deal with certain problems in the correct way.
  • Practical Test. Similar to role playing, this a great way to see if your staff can carry out the tasks you expect them to be able to in the workplace. Whether this is baking a loaf of bread a certain way or the stages of diagnosing a problem with a broken car, it's important that your staff know how you expect them to do their job, and practical tests let you see where they might need some additional training.
  • Written test. This is a good way to test your staff on their knowledge of your company's way of doing things, and lets you see quite clearly where any gaps in their knowledge might be. This could be questions on how they would deal with a new customer, or how they would deal with a complaint that comes in, so you can see if there are any bits of the procedure that they are unclear on.

Conclusion

Now you should have a better idea of where the knowledge gaps lie within your employees, which means you can go ahead and start booking the relevant training to get everyone on the same page. Taking the time to recognise skills gaps is an excellent exercise, as it means you are providing relevant training for your staff, and not just what you assume they need, which may end up not being very helpful at all.

This should also help you staff recognise that you are keen to train them on things that will make their lives easier and their workday better, and aren't just providing training for the sake of it. For the best results, make sure you repeat this type of exercise regularly, so if you do identify any skills gaps, you can deal with them before they become a big problem.


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