It is the beginning of the year and many of us are finalizing our capabilities development plans for 2017. What questions should we be asking to test and inform these plans?

These will differ on the organization, team and company levels. We have put together a simple guide that you can use to develop and test your own plans.

If you are the CEO of a professional services firm, please take this short survey. It will help you think about your own leadership skills and how you differentiate amongst your peers. If you are interested in learning more, we will provide you with a personalized report that benchmarks you and your company with your peers.

 

THE ORGANIZATION

For the organization there are three critical questions.

Do we have the skills we need to achieve our goals?
o    Where are the critical skill gaps?
o    How will we fill them?

Are we clearly differentiated from our competitors?
o    What skills drive this differentiation?
o    How will this change as differentiated skills become core skills shared across our industry?

Are we building skill-based teams or defaulting to availability and relationships?
o    Exceptional performance and profits, rely on getting the right combination of skills on the team.

 

THE TEAM

At the team level, there is a subtle shift in the questions. Having the skills needed to deliver the project remains central, but understanding the skills needed build team spirit and collaboration is just as important.

Do we have the skills we need to deliver project goals?
o    If not, how will we get them? Can we learn what we need to know or do we need to bring in new people? If we are going to bring in new people, will this be as core team members or as external resources? Can we subcontract out some of the work, to other internal teams or to vendors?

Do we know how our skills complement each other?
o    We work on teams because none of us has all of the skills needed to deliver on a complex project. Understanding how team members skills complement each other so that they become more than the sum of their parts is critical to building effective teams.

Have we mapped each other’s communication, learning and decision making styles?
o    Each team member will communicate, learn and make decisions in their own unique ways. High performance teams understand and accommodate each other’s needs. Awareness and flexibility are critical here.

 

THE INDIVIDUAL

As individuals, each of us have our immediate and long-term goals. We need to develop the skills that will let us achieve our goals. In today’s world though, this is not enough. We have to build up the skills that expand our potential and reach for new and higher goals.

What foundational skills are you building on?
o    These are the skills that you use to build new skills. An investment in strengthening foundational skills pays off many times over. Foundational skills include things like Learning, Critical Thinking, Listening, Decision Making and even Empathy.

How will you demonstrate progress in building a skill?
o    A good learning plan connects a skill to resources that you will use to develop the skill and evidence that you are developing the skill. In most cases, the best evidence is actual project work where you demonstrate the skill in a public and verifiable way.

Who has skills complementary to your own?
o    Complementary skills are those that are not often found in the same person but when combined are more than the sum of their parts. Dare I suggest that Sales and Marketing may actually be complementary skills? And that User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are actually complementary skills and not associated skills (skills often found together in the same person).
o    Finding people with skill’s complementary to your own and getting on projects with them is one of the best ways to accelerate your career.

TeamFit helps you to map skills at the organization, team and individual level. Having a good map is a critical first step in skill development. TeamFit also helps you to demonstrate your level of expertise through social, work outcomes and other evidence. Combining a map of where you are with evidence of how you are applying and improving your skills is the foundation of skill management.