TeamFit is undergoing a skill audit at present. We want to test that we have the skills we need to deliver on our vision. Like most companies today, we view our skills not just as those we have internally. Our capability as a company depends on our extended talent network.
One of the questions being asked in the audit is “What are people’s top five skills?” We can compare how people self report as compared to what we see on TeamFit itself and what shows up on LinkedIn. If you are curious, our top skills (as shown on TeamFit) are shown below.
I confess to being skeptical about all the people claiming “leadership” as a skill. But then, we do have a value that anyone in the company can step up and lead a team. But are four of us really experts?
It seems natural to focus on top skills. I recently had one skills expert tell me that she only pays attention to the top ten skills. Anything beyond that she thought was noise. She added that if a person claims too many skills then they couldn’t really have all of them.
I think this focus on top skills is misguided.
Any skill that makes it into the top five or ten is likely a complex skill with many component skills and associated skills. One can really only understand a skill if one looks at how it is being applied in projects, with other people, and how it is connected to other skills. An unstructured list of top skills does not tell you much.
You can learn a lot from long-tail skills. These come in two flavours, ‘trace minerals’ and ‘young shoots’. Trace minerals are those skills that you have at a very high level but apply sparingly. They contribute innovation and differentiation to what you do. You don’t need a lot of them, but they make all the difference. An expert in data visualization can sprinkle in a bit of color theory and dramatically increase the quality of their work. (See To win in professional services apply the right skills to the right project at the right time.)
Young shoots are just as important. These are the skills where you are a Newbie or Learner. Some people and companies are shy about these. They don’t like to talk about skills where they are not at least Solid. But this is a mistake. You should always have a good handful of new skills that you are cultivating. They are your potential for growth. Some of them will grow into your top skills over time. Others will become critical trace minerals. And some may wither, which is fine, you don’t need to cultivate every skill you explore.
Let’s look at the young shoots at a couple of people and companies. My own are shown below.
The only one of these that I see becoming a core skill is the Challenger Sale. Optimizely (a platform for A/B testing) will get attached to something like Hypothesis Testing. I am fine to see my SharePoint skills wither away and am pretty sure I will not get beyond Learner on WordPress.
For my colleague Karen Chiang the picture looks like this.
Karen and I are both working to build expertise in the Challenger Sale and we are both obsessed with A/B testing (hence Optimizely shows up as one of her young shoots as well).
Let’s look at another company, this one from our demo site, but modeled on an actual company.
Their top skills.
And here are some of this company’s emerging skills. When I look for emerging skills at a company I look for skills that more than one person is cultivating.
It is interesting to see pricing surface at this company. I dug in a bit and found other pricing related skills emerging at this company: Dynamic Pricing, Two-Sided Market Pricing, Pricing Strategy, Economic Value Estimation, Value-Based Pricing. This made me curious enough to dig in and look at a couple of pricing projects.
TeamFit is the only platform that brings skills and projects together at this granular level. But it is at the project level that skills make a difference to a company. Your people’s skills are your most important asset. You should know what new skills people are developing, and the trace skills that make what you do different and important for your clients.
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