Contributor

Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at mrichardson@mgrichardson.com or 301.275.0208.

Identifying and Filling Talent Gaps

People are your company's greatest asset—an asset that requires close attention and a strategic focus 

January 28, 2017

As 2017 gets going, it’s a good time to take inventory of your organization and assess any gaps in talent. A friend of mine, who is the CEO of the largest remodeling organization in the country, said to me several years ago, “The companies that master the labor will be the winners.” 

Mastering the labor doesn’t just pertain to tradespeople; it also includes the leadership talent that will take your business to the next level. Mastering the labor means having “A” players today that can then become the “A+” players of the future. It means having the right people in the right seats of the bus on your team. 

Whether your company is large or small, the area of talent gaps needs to be a constant focus. Talent gaps are where the business has weaknesses or strengths. It could be the gap between you and those below you, or the gap between other members of your team and those below them. Gaps can also be departmental; your talent may lie in  marketing, sales, finance, or production, with a weakness in another area. 

Company owners generally have an entrepreneurial spirit and a thirst for growth. As a business grows, the requirements for talent change. For example, a small business can thrive with just a part-time bookkeeper, but as it grows larger and more complex, it will need a full-time bookkeeper, then an accountant, and eventually a controller or CFO. The skills and ways of thinking needed at each level differ, and an individual who performs well at a lower level may not be up to the task at higher levels. 

A s you take inventory of where your company has been and assess where it currently is, you’ll also have to project future needs. The following tips will help you do that. 

Make It Visual

Below is a simple diagram I use when discussing talent gaps. It’s also helpful to ask others in the business for feedback. You may not even need some positions, but you still have a need for a certain activity to be effectively performed by someone.

Adding the initials of actual team members can also help you to see in a graphic way where leadership is missing, where performance is lagging, and who on your team is overloaded (often it’s you). I recommend listing all of the positions shown whether you need them now or not. This will help you to project what roles may be needed several years down the road, so you can begin to look for talent to fill the void or develop it from existing team members. 

Do What You Love

I encourage leaders to hold onto what they love doing for as long as they can. For example, if you’re like many owners and are strong in sales, then try to develop other team members to excel in finance or production and continue to hang onto sales or sales management for as long as you can. 

Know When to Hold ’Em and When to Fold ’Em

As your company grows, determine which individuals on your team can take on more sophisticated responsibilities. They need the right mindset for improvement and the right DNA to do the job. I encourage giving people opportunities to stretch their wings, but if after the right care and feeding they continue to disappoint, then you need to make the difficult decision to hold them back and bring in the right talent. I generally am in favor of developing from within, but that doesn’t always work. 

Great businesses, big or small, know people are their key asset. If you embrace this mindset, you must make talent development and analysis a priority.

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