Skills Mapping for Growth Companies

There is a lot of talk about skills these days.

Skills shortages, new skills acquisition, new skills models and the need for all businesses to think like, and ultimately become, Skills Based Organisations. Skills Tech could well be the HR buzzword of 2023. 

Whilst Skills Mapping has been around for a long time for larger enterprises, these are new ideas for startups and SMEs. Founders often lack the vocabulary or framework thinking around skills and how they can benefit their businesses, even at the earliest stages. 

The challenge does around around how to track and manage skills without spending huge amounts of money on enterprise solutions. A new market of SME solutions is coming and now is a great time for early stage founders and owners of scaling businesses to start applying a framework thinking around their employees skills and how a proper skills mapping can benefit them. 

 Rights, that's the preamble, let’s get into it and Define our Terms.

At its most basic level a skill is the ability to do something well; an expertise. In terms of employment, a skill is the ability to perform an action to create a desired result. 
Defined as the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. A competency is more or less the ability of an employee to properly implement their skills into a workplace environment. 
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Technical Skills
Technical skills are the specialized knowledge and expertise required to perform specific tasks and use specific tools and programs in real world situations. These can often relate to specific tools and software. 
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Soft Skills
Soft skills include attributes and personality traits that help employees interact with others and succeed in the workplace.
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Skills Taxonomies
Skills taxonomy is a structured list of skills defined at the organisation level that identifies the capabilities of a business in a quantifiable way. Essentially, it is a system that classifies skills within an organisation into groups and clusters.
Skills Clusters
Skills clusters indicate the skills offering broad transition options. That is, they provide a way to visualise the range of occupations that require a skill, similar skills, and transferable skills across the labour market.
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Skills Matrix
A skills matrix is a framework used to map employees' skills and their levels. It's a grid that contains information about available skills and their evaluation.
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Skills Gap Analysis
Skills gap refers to the disparity between the skills an employer expects their employees to have and the actual skills employees possess. This mismatch makes it challenging for employers to fill open positions.

Skills Tech - Options and Complexity 

Large enterprises have attempted to be skills based for a long time now, with varying degrees of implementation success. By their nature, enterprises drive complexity and thus make skills data complex and require complex and expensive solutions to manage. Enterprise HRM systems and leading players like Gloat, SuccessFactors, Pluralsight and Eightfold have created a mature market for skills mapping and talent mobility.

Skills tech is still a relatively nascent technology space, but one which is likely to become a critical HR and leadership competency in the future. Skills Tech will likely become a new buzz word across not just HR circles, but across functional leads and engineering teams. Skills tech plays across multiple domains within an org, including for: 

  • Learning & Development
  • Talent Mobility
  • Assessment and Performance
  • Recruiting and Talent Acquisition via ATS
  • Skill engines and platforms
  • Broader HMS data systems 

Talent Mobility

Talent Mobility has been a core tenet of Skills Mapping for a long time. Identifying internal talent within larger businesses that is open to and can benefit from internal movement within roles and geographies has been hugely beneficial. Creating the right internal opportunities helps manage costs and retains and develops internal talent. 

All this helps reduce recruiting costs, creates L&D frameworks and development plans for key talent and encourages cross functional development.

Technology and the abrupt shift in how we work has expanded this need to the SME and growth stage market. Companies that were once considered small and lacked organisational complexity are now far more complicated as they scale remotely. An increase in location nodes creates more complexity and cross functional silos.  

Remote Teams and their unique challenges

As shown diagrammatically below, the shift to remote work and remote hiring has increased organisational complexity, thus moving the dial on when companies need to consider Skills Tech software dramatically to the left. 

 Org Complexity with nodes

Hiring globally has opened up the talent pool for companies and has hugely benefited companies in hiring high-demand roles, such as software engineers and data scientists. However, hiring an engineer in a remote location also creates challenges in how to get the best out of an employee, in how to make them feel included and embrace company culture, and give them the tools to enhance their skills and provide the same level of opportunity as you would to all other employees at the same level. 

Collaborative tools such as Slack, Teams and Notion have helped specific teams and functions communicate and keep aligned. Organisations have been less successful at ensuring fairness of opportunity and transparency/discovery across the wider Org. 

Growth companies are now hiring HR and People & Culture managers at a much earlier stage. They are also starting to consider Skills Tech and creating a Skills Based Organisation as an integral framework for growth.

Skills Taxonomies for the SME market 

In order to understand skills within an organisation, you need to start with the right Skills Framework and ensure that that is implemented across the organisational leadership. This framework needs structure and to be correctly taxonomised. 

For the startup, SME and growth markets, we can help create a simple skills taxonomy based around the current Organisational departmental and functional structure. 

Skills can be categorized under Technical, Soft, Competency, Culture, Product based headings, often with a canonical link to a specific department or function. With a basic skills framework in place skills can then be grouped and clustered around role requirements and competencies.

The process of defining specific skills - both tangible and abstracted - within the functions of a business is an excellent strategic exercise for company leadership to align on their core values, employee needs and growth plans.

Being able to visualize this structured data and manipulate it across business dimensions, provides immediate value to leaders, HR and team members alike.  An example is detailed below.

Skills matrix for SMEs

Skills Matrix and Skills Gap Analysis 

A well created and structured skills matrix allows for clear visualization of the skills and competences within an organisation, or a specific dimension of that Organisation.

It can provide leaders and HR with the data and insight on the following:

  • Identify the right person, team or group for a given specific task
  • Identify skills gaps and weaknesses across the organisation, or a dimension of the organisation. 
  • Track skills improvement over time Identify skills outside of a department or functional area
  • Provide clear data points for promotions and team calibration
  • Identify risks and exposures to the organisation if certain talent leaves the org. 
  • Merge skills with L&D functions and continuous improvements. 
  • Help with career development and planning, including succession planning.
  • Open up opportunities for mobile talent 

The future of a Skills Mindset and Skills Based Organisation

Bringing a skills mindset to all companies, at whatever stage of growth they are, is critical in the modern Future of Work.  By creating a basic skills framework and an understanding of the importance of a Skills Matrix and Skills Gap Analysis leaders can evolve, tweak and guide their business in a structured and managed way. 

As small businesses grow and operations pivot and expand, all the above can be tweaked and re-assessed. However, having the initial framework in place will greatly aid leadership in the strategic operational and HR decisions they will make. 

An org redesign becomes significantly easier if leaders can map the skills and competencies they have within their employees across the organisation roles, both existing and newly proposed. Identifying weaknesses and risks around employees can be fully assessed and planned for with the right skills tooling. 

Let’s keep it simple

This article has gone into detail on skills and skills taxonomies and highlighted the key challenges and complexity of mapping skills accurately and regularly across your organisation. 

Skills mapping has traditionally been seen as the domain of large enterprises and as too technical and complex to map comprehensively across a business, for smaller organisations.

We don't believe that is true and at Orgtomic we are trying to democratize skills and the way growth companies think about skills and skills frameworks.

For the start-up and growth market, the key message has to be - keep it simple. 

Define a structured set up specific technical skills and broad competencies that ALL employees can be assessed on. Allow individual employees to have input and self-assess their skills prior to HR and team leader review. This can be maximized by utilizing your own operations skills taxonomy and perhaps combining this with an open skills data set. 

Orgtomic offers a best in class Skills Mapping and Org Chart tool, specifically aimed at the growth and technology sectors. We think about how to simplify the life of founders, team leaders, HR and engineering teams in how they can get the best out of their people - especially when hiring remotely. 

We offer a Free Tier for smaller companies and are always delighted to share our market insight and thoughts on how SMEs can approach becoming skill’s based organisations. 

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