Monday, June 30, 2008

Q. What is the benefit of developing a “skills” inventory?

A. Of all the assets that a business owner must manage, “human assets” are the most important. Remember that your employees manage the functions that make the business run each day. Conducting a comprehensive review of employee skills can mean the difference between making the business run like a finely tuned machine or clunk along and stall periodically. Sadly, this is the most neglected area of a business.

True, the employees are “assets,” but they are much more. Every employee has varying degrees of experiences, personalities, behaviors, etc. Performing an analysis of employee skills should be just as important as conducting an inventory of CPAP supplies. First, it can provide an understanding of whether employees are in the right seat. You certainly would not want someone who has poor communication skills in the customer service area or someone with poor analytical skills in the billing department. The assessment of employee core competencies is a step in the right direction to creating efficiencies in the business by having people in positions that more closely match their skills.

Secondly, performing a skills inventory combined with annual performance reviews will help you determine whether the employees are performing tasks in a way that benefits the company. Are people performing in a way that meets or exceeds minimum standards? Thirdly, the process can aid you in succession planning.

An objective performance review process will help assess skills that employees possess and also provide valuable information in developing leadership skills. Assessment tools can also be used to better understand behavioral characteristics to determine an employee’s future potential.

Richard Davis, SPHR, is the director of human resources for Barnes Healthcare Services in Valdosta,