How well do you currently carry out your job? Who are you professionally? Answering these two questions will help you with the first step of an effective monitoring strategy: identifying the gaps in your current skill set.
These questions encourage you to reflect on what you do in a professional context. The idea is to look at all aspects of your working life to carry out a thorough review of your current skills and knowledge.
How do you currently work?
First, focus on your current job. Take a few minutes now to make some notes on each of the areas listed below. Answer all the questions in the right-hand column (you can add any others you think of).
You should also make note of how comfortable you are with each new technology you mention. If you’re a student or job seeker, focus on the job you’re hoping to find in the future and answer as many of the questions as you can.
Who do you work for? What is your role within the company? How does technology currently help you at work? How might it make your job easier in the future?
Your business sector
What industry do you work in? How are emerging technologies affecting or changing your industry? What are the pros and cons of these technologies?
Who are your colleagues? How do you communicate with each other (ie by phone, email, instant messenger services such as Slack, etc)?
The users/clients/target audience
What current technology do you use to communicate or engage with them? Which tools are the most effective or most popular with your clients/users? Is there a more efficient or effective way of engaging with them?
Your answers reflect your working environment as it is right now. It highlights how you’re already using technology to carry out certain tasks, how comfortable you are engaging with it, and helps you pinpoint areas that may benefit from its use in the future.
Who are you professionally?
To answer this question, focus on the following four areas.
These are your:
Let’s look at each of these a little more closely.
To help you pinpoint your strengths, consider your qualities, talents, and skills. You may have a great sense of humour, for example, or be highly-skilled at your job. You may also be empathetic, creative or enthusiastic.
Now identify your weaknesses. This isn’t always so straightforward. Embracing the things you do well is far easier than facing up to the things you don’t. It means being brutally honest with yourself about the tasks you struggle with. To help you do this, reflect on the following questions:
What tasks or skills are necessary to effectively carry out your job?
Which of these tasks do you struggle with or are unable to carry out?
Which skills don’t you have?
What tasks on your ‘to do’ list are usually the last to be completed?
In which tasks do you lack motivation?
For which tasks would you ask for help to complete?
Assessing your strengths and weaknesses will establish the direction your monitoring strategy will need to take.
So, if you have difficulties chairing a meeting or keeping your colleagues engaged when making presentations, for example, you may want to explore how to develop your public speaking skills in this OpenClassrooms course or explore great orators for their storytelling techniques in a Ted Talk like this one.
Next, reflect on how your physical surroundings can positively or negatively impact your ability to carry out your job. To do this you’ll need to consider the physical opportunities and threats.
What elements in your working environment help you excel at work? This could be flexible working hours, having the ability to work from home, an encouraging, nurturing boss, or a supportive or creative team.
Here you’ll highlight the obstacles or interruptions that may prevent you from carrying out your job effectively. This could be an unrealistically short project deadline or a noisy working environment, for example.
Set several targets
Once you’ve completed your skills gap analysis, you’ll have a clear idea of the areas in which you’ll need further knowledge or development.
Now it’s time to set some targets. These will ensure you keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date in the areas most relevant to you. These are the areas you’d like to become more informed in and new technology you need to learn or goals you’d like to achieve.
Create a list of targets under these three areas:
1. Soft skills
These are the personal attributes you bring to a job. They include skills such as having the ability to listen, communicate effectively, work in a team or present your ideas. Which areas have you identified as needing development? List each one as a separate target.
2. Digital tools and new technology
What digital tools can help you stay on top of advances in your industry? Will you need training? What technologies can/will improve your productivity?
3. Technical skills
How are job-specific skills evolving in your industry? What can you do to respond to these changes? What would you like to achieve?
Reflecting on the way you work and challenging your work processes will help you identify the skills you need to acquire.
Listing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and potential Threats helps you pinpoint what changes you can personally influence.
Setting up specific targets will be useful to focus on the most important gaps that need filling.
These targets will help you shape the direction your monitoring strategy takes. The next step is to develop an information network to help you achieve these targets. We’ll explore how you do this in the next chapter.