Blue Eskimo

Maximise your organisation’s current skills

When you’re faced with a skills gap, the first reaction may be to recruit – but sometimes you don’t need to: you may already have the answer to your problems.

Although most organisations wouldn't see themselves as being rash when it comes to hiring new people, there are many circumstances where recruitment takes place when another answer is readily available - it's just not always obvious.

Clearly identify the need - and the business drivers

The first step is to thoroughly indentify the business need. Knowing whether the need for new staff is because of business growth, inefficiencies, sickness, market trends or competitive pressure helps you to first understand if the business driver translates into the need for a temporary or permanent fix. Understanding why the need for additional resources has occurred is one of the most important pieces of information needed when trying to find the best solution.

Have a clear idea of your available resource pool

The next step falls into the 'here's one I prepared earlier' category. If you wait until there's a need to fill a skills gap before developing a clear picture of your available resource pool, then you are almost certainly going to feel compelled to hire either a contractor or permanent team member.

The irony is that you may already have someone who is capable of performing the role in question - and may even have a burning desire to move into such a role.  For this reason, it's a sound idea to develop a skills profile of your current teams - what they can do, what they used to do and what they want to do in the future.

With this information, you can assess whether there is someone who is available (or can be made available) to move quickly into the role. It may well be that this is a person for whom the role isn't the primary skill, so the initial days may not be exactly smooth, but it's still likely to take less time and cost less money than going for recruitment as the easy answer.

In some cases, a group of people can fill the gap, by working together - if the need is temporary, just shuffling schedules around can be enough.

If the need is permanent, you can weigh up the benefits of bringing someone new into the role - or using it as an opportunity to promote from within, or giving the role as a career opportunity to someone who wants to switch roles. You can then backfill the other (usually more junior) position, by making a permanent hire.

If your assessment of people's roles is thorough enough, you may already be aware of places where there is a degree of underutilisation. This will give you the slack in the system needed to juggle your resources around - but the key is to have the knowledge ready for when the need arises.

Helping people make the move

It may be the case that some training will be required to more effectively move someone from their old role to a new one. This can be a sound investment - although they are having to learn new skills, they already 'know the ropes' and have experience at working within your organisation, so can add value relatively quickly. Someone needing training shouldn't be a barrier to them performing another role.

Consider all options

While training companies are ready to bring in associates or freelancers in time of need, they are less open to the same approach with roles such as sales or management. And yet, this can be an effective way out of a temporary (or even medium-term) squeeze, with temporary staff often able to start faster than new hires who may have to serve out notice periods. If your business driver is a market change, such as the need to focus sales on a new product, then this can be a very effective solution.

Is the need arising all too often?

If the need for new people is arising again and again, it may be that a closer examination is needed. If there is a problem with staff 'churn', then perhaps some investigative and remedial work is needed to find out why people are leaving too frequently - it may be that there is an issue that needs to be resolved in another way.

Of course, the answer may be that you really do need to bring in new people - but before that step is taken, having the processes and information in place to make the best of what you already have can save you time and money.