Competency Targets are here

We’re pleased to announce the immediate availability of a new feature to further help your organization maximise the benefits of skills management.

The Competency Targets feature provides organizations the ability to set expected skills and associated skill levels for a Team or Role within Skills Base, and to track a Team, Role or Person’s progress towards achieving full competency.

We’ve designed Competency Targets to be very easy to use.  Whether your organization is just starting out with Skills Base, or you have been using Skills Base for several years, you can take advantage of Competency Targets in just two easy steps, with the Skills Base software taking care of the rest.

Read more about Competency Targets in the Skills Base Support Center.

Once you’ve enabled this new feature, some additional metrics will appear on People, Role and Team dashboards, making tracking competencies in your organisation a breeze.

We hope you find this new feature of benefit to your organization, and as always we look forward to your feedback.

5 reasons why your organization’s last attempt at implementing skills management failed

Skills Management – For some organizations it’s the secret element that gives an edge over the competition through a  strategically aligned workforce.  For others, it’s the everyday practice that has transformed the organization’s culture, productivity, and satisfaction ratings.

Whatever the reason, your organization recognized the need for establishing a Skills Management practice, and you took the plunge, possibly investing significant resources, money and time.  But things didn’t work out as expected, and today the work yields little to no ongoing benefit.  Enthusiasm and pace has slowed to a grind, if the program hasn’t already been entirely shelved.

Following are some common reasons why attempts to establish a skills management practice may fail and what you can do to avoid it.

1. Inaccurate measurement methods

Key to the success of skills management is the method an organization uses to measure skill levels.  Without accurate data, the function loses value and/or can be counter-productive to the interests of the organization.  Worse, the skills management practice can quickly lose credibility within the organization when collected data is perceived to be misaligned with individuals’ first-hand experience.

An entirely subjective method relies on individuals providing their own perceived view of skill levels which may be influenced by a number of factors including unconscious bias, current mood and feelings, and differing levels of expectation. Purely subjective methods produce fragmented results that are inconsistent from person to person, and can produce patterns of inconsistency across distinct organizational entities.

At the other extreme, an entirely objective method relies on formal assessment of skill and is difficult to implement and maintain, and generally involves a large amount of effort and expense to execute.  Objective methods are good at levelling the playfield throughout the organization by removing inconsistencies and bias, however the tradeoff is a significant increase in the risk of failure of the skills management practice as a whole due to the investment of human and financial resources required to maintain the practice ongoing.

Ultimately, the best method for measuring ability should achieve a balance by taking advantage of the speed and simplicity that a subjective approach offers, whilst introducing objectivity to the process.  The Skills Base Structured-Subjective approach to measuring ability offers a balance between objective and subjective measures by using the subjective measure as a base and introducing a number of controls to improve the accuracy and level the playing field.

2. Poorly considered or managed organizational change

Skills Management is a whole-of-organization activity which relies on the direct input and buy-in of each employee who very much become key and ongoing stakeholders in the process.  In failing to recognize this fundamental notion, failing to achieve buy-in, and/or failure to properly execute an according organizational change management program, the implementation of skills management is likely to fail.

The key initial step to achieving buy-in is to communicate the objectives and benefits of the program.  The organization needs active cooperation from employees to achieve its objective of implementing skills management and so it is incumbent on the organization to achieve the buy-in through a clear and concise communication strategy that addresses the key expected outcomes of the program, how these will benefit the organization and its employees, what is required from individuals, and how that contribution will in turn contribute to achieving the objectives of the organization.

Essential to any communication strategy is a feedback loop that allows employees the ability to raise questions or concerns that can be handled by the appropriate people and communicated to the wider organization if needed.  This feedback loop reduces the risk of discontent and/or revolt upon the launch of the skills management program, ensuring a smoother rollout.

3. Implementation of an overly onerous or manual process

Today, user experience is fundamental to the success of any process that involves human interaction.  In neglecting user experience through creating a difficult, cumbersome, onerous, or otherwise unpleasant process, the implementation of such a process is destined to fail.

Typically when organizations embark on their first attempt at implementing skills management, the first go-to solution is a spreadsheet.  It’s easy to forget that spreadsheets are a 30+ year old tool originally designed to facilitate the calculation of numbers in an accounting context.  They were based on the principle of a single-user working exclusively on a flat file that is stored locally on their computer.  Spreadsheets have evolved over time to introduce multi-user editing and client-server models, however these features are retro-fits to a tool that maintains its heritage and fundamental principles through to the current day.  The net result is that organizations quickly discover that spreadsheets are inadequate for the purposes of skills management.

Whether it’s spreadsheets or some other technology or non-tech solution, the introduction of effort above and beyond the minimum perceived requirement for the task is a recipe for disengagement and dissolution.  In order to be successful, a skills management tool must make the task of conducting the process fast, easy and rewarding for all stakeholders.  Additionally, it’s essential that there be little to no training required for the majority of stakeholders (ie: the “general” case) in order to reduce or remove the barrier to entry for busy people.  After all, skills management is not everyone’s primary role.

4. Failure to maintain a controlled list of skills

Fundamentally, the practice of skills management is concerned with tracking individual skills.  These skills can range in breadth and specificity, and can cover multiple classes (eg: business, personal, interpersonal), business functions (eg: HR, IT, Finance), and technical domains.  Quickly, the list of skills being tracked can grow significantly, and when that growth is uncontrolled it can introduce chaos into the practice, disengaging stakeholders.

A skills management practice may set out to achieve many goals, however ultimately the highest priority must be to return relevant benefits to the organization.  As such, it’s essential the organization set the parameters and retain control over the structure of data so as to achieve its reporting needs.  Essential in achieving this is maintaining control of the list of skills that will be tracked and measured by employees.  This list should be maintained and curated by a limited number of individuals closely involved with the skills management practice.  Their goal is to ensure that the data collected is aligned with business requirements, always adapting to changing needs and conditions, and always adding value.

This is not to say that any list of skills is definitive.  Skills evolve and change over time, and employees are usually the best at identifying this.  An internal feedback loop should be set up that allows employees the ability to identify new or missing skills, and to generally participate in and contribute to the skills curation process.  Importantly, it is the curators that make the decisions to change the skills list in accordance with an assessment against organizational objectives.  Will the change have a positive impact on achieving the needs of the organization?  If not, then there may be no point in tracking the skill, regardless of its perceived validity.

5. A self-imposed limitation of benefits

Skills management information can aid and assist every employee in their work. Whether it’s assisting a project manager in identifying resources for a given project, assisting a manager to identify skill gaps and create an according training program, or assisting an entry-level employee to find help from an experienced practitioner.  Skills management has the potential to enhance everyone’s work.

However, commonly organizations restrict that flow of benefits by restricting access to the tools and data used for skills management, or by failing to providing adequate methods of access.  Naturally some level of restriction may be desired, however an over-restrictive approach, or worse, a blanket-ban on access to data, can contribute significantly to the demise of a skills management program.

One of the main reasons for this is that restriction has the effect of disengaging employees.  They can’t see the benefit, or directly derive a benefit for themselves and as such lose faith in what may in fact be a valuable program for the organization.  Employee disengagement is a sure-fire way to cement the failure of any skills management practice as its success is fundamentally dependent on the input of employees.

Providing employees with good access to information, as well as the tools to make proper use of it, enhances their work and increases engagement with the organization’s skills management objectives.  Even if the skills management practice has flaws, engaged employees will actively work with the program, suggest improvements, and persevere with something that they believe in and feel a part of.

Free whitepaper: The Skills Base Competency Framework

The Skills Base Competency Framework is designed for organizations large and small and provides a best practice methodology for measuring and understanding the skills within a workforce, facilitating an effective skills management practice, and ultimately returning benefits to an organization through improved visibility, knowledge and understanding of its ability to deliver successful business outcomes.

Best of all, it’s free.  Download it today and further maximize your organization’s greatest asset.

http://www.skills-base.com/competency-framework

Enhancements to Skill Category charts

We’ve enhanced the Skill Category charts on Skills Base dashboard to provide you with additional valuable insights into the capabilities of your teams, roles, locations and people.

The enhancements combine elements of the Capability Matrix to show skill level along with the spread of skill levels (capability) within a given skill category:

top-skill-categoriesThe chart coloring has been upgraded to match the Heat Matrix report color scheme to allow you to quickly identify the skill level spread for each skill category, which is particularly useful for highlighting areas of concentrated high or low skill level.

The chart is also now sorted like the other dashboard lists, in descending order of skill level, to allow easy identification of the top skill categories for a given entity.

In parallel with these enhancements we have also added skill category grouping to the Capability Matrix report, to enable reporting at the category level, for times when reporting at the skill level is too detailed:

matrixWe hope these enhancements help you derive even more value from your skills management practice.  As always, if you have any feedback please feel free to contact us at any time.

 

Announcing fully customizable permissions

We’re glad to announce the immediate availability of some powerful new features that give administrators far greater control over permissions within their Skills Base instance.

Watch a video tutorial on the new permissions enhancements.

The first is the ability to fully customize the privileges granted to Security Groups

 

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Previously, only a limited number of Security Group privileges could be configured, however we have dramatically expanded on that to give administrators detailed control over the things that a person can see and do throughout the system.

Secondly, we now provide administrators the ability to define custom Security Groups that can be configured with any permissions required.   For example, there may be a need to grant contractors a different set of privileges than may be granted to full time employees.  All of this an more is now possible with the ability to create any amount of new Security Groups that can be assigned to people throughout the organization.

 

2Lastly, we have expanded team configuration options to provide greater flexibility by allowing more than just Supervisors to be assigned to teams.   The Delegates feature allows administrators the ability to assign a range of permissions based on team membership, providing enhanced choice and control.

 

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We hope these new enhancements will help give your organization the flexibility and control it needs to make the most of your skills management practice.

For more information on these enhancements, see our article on Configuring Permissions in the Skills Base Support Center.

New assessment enhancements available now on Skills Base

We’re pleased to announce some enhancements to the core assessment feature in Skills Base which aim to improve the assessment experience and functionality for your organization and its employees.

Assessment comments

The new assessments comments feature allows employees and supervisors the ability to add comments at both the Skill Category and Assessment level.  Comments are shared between an employee and their supervisors and are visible both during an assessment and on the Detail tab of the person’s dashboard.

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Assessments comments are enabled by default for new Skills Base instances and can be enabled on existing instances via Admin -> Settings -> Assessments -> Comments.

Rating-level auditing

We’ve introduced a more precise level of auditing for supervisor assessments which tracks individual rating changes.  This is designed to assist where there are multiple or changing supervisors for a given person and you need to track which supervisors set each specific rating.  The name of the supervisor is visible both when conducting a supervisor assessment, and in the “Detail” tab when viewing a person’s dashboard.

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New skill identification

We’ve introduced new Skill identification into skill assessments which highlights any new skills that have been assigned to a person since the last assessment.  This is designed to assist employees and supervisors when conducting re-assessments and speeds up the re-assessment process by drawing attention to previously unrated skills.

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We hope these enhancements assist you and or organization in your skills management endeavors!  As always, we welcome your feedback.  If you have an comments, questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us.

Integrate with Skills Base using the new REST API

We’re happy to announce the release of the Skills Base REST API that’s designed for customers wishing to integrate Skills Base with other corporate systems.

The REST API is available to all paid license holders and provides a way for customers to programmatically access data within their Skills Base instance to use in real-time integrations, augmenting the capabilities of organizational information systems.

Most major Skills Base modules are now exposed via REST APIs with more to follow in the future.  A complete listing of APIs, as well as full API documentation, is available in our Support Center.

We hope this new feature will further help your organization achieve the best from your employees, and we look forward to your feedback.

Introducing the new Licensing module

The new Licensing module provides enhanced features to help you better monitor and manage your Skills Base license.  From 26th September 2015, all license purchases will be made via this module.

Some of the new features include:

A clearer view of your current license and usage statistics:

licensingThe ability to renew and/or upgrade your license from directly within your Skills Base instance:

upgrade

The ability to view your purchase history and to download payment receipts in PDF format:

receipts

The new Licensing module will be available to all Skills Base customers from 26th September 2015.  We hope these features help in your administration of Skills Base and we look forward to your feedback.

New features available now on Skills Base

We’re pleased to announce the availability of some new features to help your organization get even more value from your skills management practice.

My Reports

It’s now possible to save your commonly run reports for rapid execution at a later date.

add-to-my-reports

This feature introduces an “Add to My Reports” button when viewing a report which, when clicked,  allows you to specify a name and description before saving all report parameters to your “My Reports” list.

my-reports

This feature also works with data exports, so you no longer have to set up all of the parameters each time an export needs to be executed.

The “My Reports” list is available via the Reporting -> Reports menu.

Capability Matrix report

The new Capability Matrix report provides a view of capability across an entity by showing the number of people skilled at each skill level.  The entity can be a Role, Team, Location, or the entire organization.

capability-matrix

This new matrix provides rapid visibility of the capability within a selected entity and can be used in conjunction with other reports and dashboards to further enhance your training and development plans, or to feed into organizational reporting and decision making.

New calculation method option – “Strict Average”

Since its inception, Skills Base has utilized a calculation method which factors relevant skills to highlight strengths throughout dashboards.  We’re pleased to now announce the release of a new additional calculation method which, when enabled, places more of an emphasis on highlighting gaps.  To see exactly how it does that, check our support article which describes each of the calculation methods in detail.  Administrators can now choose the method that best aligns with the requirements of the organization, or even change between methods at any time.

We hope that these new features come in handy for your organization and, as always, if you have any feedback please let  us know.

 

Report Builder improvements

We are valuing your feedback on the Report Builder tool as it progresses through the beta phase.

This post is to let you know about  some improvements we’ve made to the Report Builder output in order to make the presentation consistent with the Detail tab of People Summary pages.

  • Now displays a “0” instead of a “-” in self and supervisor assessment fields  where a score of zero was provided in the assessment.
  • The difference score has been swapped to be negative when the supervisor score is lower.
  • The average of self and supervisor assessment ratings are no longer rounded up to the nearest rating and are instead rounded to an accuracy of 1 decimal place.

We hope these improvements help you get even more value out of the tool, and as always, please continue to let us know of any feedback you have.