Assessing Skills

Lars Plougmann. (2008, August 8). (Flickr: Headshift business card discussion). Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/2744040362. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lars Plougmann. (2008, August 8). (Flickr: Headshift business card discussion). Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/2744040362. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of a business’ most valuable assets not easily represented on the books is the human experience of running the business. Over years of training and experience, the staff have usually gained the knowledge to make key decisions to keep the business running during short owner absences. A prospective buyer will want to know how competent each person is to do their job and the job above them. It is important to recognize the degree of support each person brings to the job and the amount of creativity each has to suggest improvements to the business.

An inventory of skills and experience can be based on written reports by the owner and supplemented by the employee. A resume format would cover the key areas of training, experience, positions held and improvements in the business. It is also important to include potential future training opportunities to prepare for advancement. Software exists to help businesses with a large number of employees; however, a small business with less than ten employees may find written reports satisfactory.

Position descriptions for each job are very helpful for several reasons:

  1. The clarity of responsibility is documented,
  2. Expectations and standards are communicated,
  3. A measuring stick to confirm the job is correctly being done in a consistent manner is developed,
  4. When work assignments change, the position description is updated, and
  5. Position descriptions help determine relative pay levels.

Small business owners need to recognize the importance of position descriptions and confirm they are accurate, current and motivate continuous improvement in the business.

When the employee’s inventory of skills is matched to the position description it is likely that a few gaps will be identified. This provides you with the opportunity to determine if it is appropriate to provide additional training for the employee or if the task should be re-assigned to another employee. In this way, the employee could be fast tracked towards a promotion. On occasion, the employee may be poorly suited for the position. The inventory of skills will point out what gaps exist and a frank discussion can ensue to see how best to close the gap, change positions or change employers.

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