- Skills management
Skills Management is the practice of understanding, developing and deploying people and their
skills. Well-implemented skills management should identify the skills that job roles require, the skills of individual employees, and any gap between the two.
The skills involved can be defined by the organization concerned, or by third party institutions. They are usually defined in terms of a skills framework, also known as a competency framework or skills matrix. This consists of a list of skills, and a grading system, with a definition of what it means to be at particular level for a given
skill. (For an example of a mature skills framework, see the Skills Framework for the Information Age, [http://www.sfia.org.uk] , a technical IT skills framework owned by a British not-for-profit organization.)
To be most useful, skills management needs to be conducted as an ongoing process, with individuals assessing and updating their recorded skill sets regularly. These updates should occur at least as frequently as employees' regular line manager reviews, and certainly when their skill sets have changed.
Skills management "
systems" record the results of this process in a database, and allow analysis of the data.
In order to perform the functions of management and to assume multiple roles, managers must be skilled. Robert Katz identified three managerial skills that are essential to successful management: technical, human, and conceptual*. Technical skill involves process or technique knowledge and proficiency. Managers use the processes, techniques and tools of a specific area. Human skill involves the ability to interact effectively with people. Managers interact and cooperate with employees. Conceptual skill involves the formulation of ideas. Managers understand abstract relationships, develop ideas, and solve problems creatively. Thus, technical skill deals with things, human skill concerns people, and conceptual skill has to do with ideas. A manager's level in the organization determines the relative importance of possessing technical, human, and conceptual skills. Top level managers need conceptual skills in order to view the organization as a whole. Conceptual skills are used in planning and dealing with ideas and abstractions. Supervisors need technical skills to manage their area of specialty. All levels of management need human skills in order to interact and communicate with other people successfully. As the pace of change accelerates and diverse technologies converge, new global industries are being created (for example, telecommunications). Technological change alters the fundamental structure of firms and calls for new organizational approaches and management skills.
Employees who benefit
Skills management provides a structured approach to developing individual and collective skills, and gives a common vocabulary for discussing skills. As well as this general benefit, three groups of employees receive specific benefits from skills management.
As a result of skills management, employees should be aware of the skills their job requires, and any skills gaps that they have. Depending on their employer, it may also result in a personal development plan (PDP) of training to bridge some or all of those skills gaps over a given period.
Skills management enables managers to know the skill strengths and weaknesses of employees reporting to them. It can also enable them to search for employees with particular skill sets (e.g. to fill a role on a particular project).
A rolled-up view of skills and skills gaps across an organization can enable its executives to see areas of skill strength and weakness. This enables them to plan for the future against the current and future abilities of staff, as well as to prioritise areas for skills development.
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