What is a Gap Analysis

Posted by Marilyn Hoare on September 22, 2015

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Many people may be familiar with the term “gap analysis” as it relates to project management or may even know it as a “needs analysis” or “needs assessment.” However, some may be unsure how it applies to talent management. The principle is essentially the same: it is a comparison of the current state versus the desired future state. The key difference is that in regards to talent management, it is the employee and a job that are being compared.

When performing a gap analysis, you need to start with some sort of benchmarking and other assessments so that everyone can first understand the expectations. What is generally required of a specific job? A good place to start is with competencies and skills. Listing these is a beginning, but going a step further and indicating the required level of proficiency for each competency and/or skill becomes much more useful.

After establishing a benchmark of characteristics or factors, it is then possible to focus on “what is” versus “what should be.” Including a required level of proficiency enables you to be that much more specific in ascertaining the precise gap. You then know not only whether or not an employee holds a required competency or skill, but also whether they have the level of experience you require. A gap analysis at this level really allows you to highlight the gap and focus on ways to address it.

mind-the-gap

If gap analyses are not performed, there is a good chance that employees are not reaching their full potential and are producing at a lower level than they are capable. Forcing attention to the gaps aids in realizing where the bulk of your efforts should be spent. This is not to say that a “weakness” is to be dwelt upon for development: this is often a wasted effort. Instead, use the gap analysis to see where there may be some talent that could be further developed.

The gap analysis is a tool with many benefits throughout all aspects of talent management. Not only can it be used to assist with establishing career development plans as mentioned above, but it is also critical for forecasting and workforce planning. Look to you upcoming projects, potential retirements or promotions, and general turnover. What are the skills and competencies required to keep those positions filled? Do you currently have the bench strength to do so or will employee development be needed? If you don’t feel you have the needed talent within your organization, use the gap analysis as part of your recruiting strategy.

Essentially, if you aren’t performing gap analyses within your company, you may have a greater gap than you think.