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FIND & FIX SKILL GAPS
January 28, 2019
We often think of skills gaps on a company-wide or even global scale with predictable complaints about new grads who can’t think critically or older workers who lack technical literacy. But sometimes it’s us who are not quite up to snuff. We all have areas where we need to improve.
Although it requires a bit of courage, proactively exploring and addressing weaknesses can accelerate your progress far faster than hiding them. You will expand your skills and build your reputation.
Start with probing questions and an honest self-assessment
What am I truly good at in my current job?
What responsibilities do I struggle with or avoid?
Do others in similar positions have critical skills I lack?
What skills would I need to be promoted?
Does my organization place especially high value on specific skills I have not yet mastered?
Confirm your findings
Ask a mentor, sponsor, boss or trusted friend to candidly share where they feel you most need to build your skills.
If you want a little privacy in discussing your shortcomings, reach out to professional contacts from conferences, industry meetings or LinkedIn. They won’t know you as well as people within your company, but they can share information about the skills they seek in people who occupy the type of positions you desire.
Close the gap
Once you identify the top two or three areas that need work, it’s time to get growing. Again, with the probing questions.
Are there people in my department or organization who could help me improve?
Could I volunteer for an assignment that would facilitate growth?
Would my boss approve my participation in a company training program or industry conference?
Share your self-assessment with your boss, along with a plan for improvement and request her insight and support.
Share the wealth
Just as you have tapped others to help you master new skills, generously share your know-how as well. Co-workers can be especially effective two-way teachers as you likely have slightly different areas of expertise yet share a common workplace language, understanding and experience.
Knowledge transfer among peers is also less intimidating than opening up about professional gaps with more senior staff — especially if the skills you lack are ones you feel should already be in your toolkit.
Whether you access free online courses, get the greenlight for a high-impact conference or share peer training with coworkers, closing your skills gaps opens new paths to growth, opportunity and advancement.
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