How to Fill an Employee Gap

Three Parts:Identifying Your Employee GapFilling Your Employee GapStaying on Top

Having an employee gap means there is a widening discrepancy between your skills/competencies and the competencies required of you. This gap is identified by the way you perform your duties, the way you interact with customers, peers and managers, your attitude, your personality, and even how you view the company and its values. It may seem daunting, but once your specific gap is identified, you can then move on to getting the skills necessary and staying on top of your field – and it all starts with Step 1 below.

Part 1
Identifying Your Employee Gap

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    Talk to your boss. The only person besides you who knows the intricacies of your employee gap is your boss. It's best to go right to the source when it comes to knowing what you need to do to improve your job performance. Though it might be intimidating, in the end it'll be worth it. Ask him or her a few questions, like:
    • Where do my strengths and weaknesses lie? How might I improve my overall job performance?
    • What skills/competencies can I work on that make a difference to the organization from a financial perspective? From a client perspective? From a team perspective?
    • How can I be responsible for my learning and growth?
    • Does the company offer training or workshops I can attend to better my performance?
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    Seek out an assessment center. Assessment centers offer one of the most objective and dependable solutions to assess employees against diverse criteria. Assessment is the key to filling employee gaps by giving you a vivid picture of where your gaps lie and what best can be done to bridge the gap between your skills and competencies. It may also outline what your job exactly demands of you.
    • Initially great importance was attached to assessment centers during selection and recruitment processes. However, their potential is now being seen in bridging employee gaps and even in designing effective training and development programs.
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    Take an assessment test. Assessment centers usually employ exercises such as psychometric tests, business games, group discussions, role play, presentations, structured interviews, fact finding exercises and paper based tests. These can be very useful in pinpointing your gap. Talk to your boss or coworkers about what assessment test may be the most helpful to you and your organization.
    • An assessment center specializes in administering meticulously designed tests and simulation exercises to groups of participants (employees). The performances are then observed, evaluated and apprised by specially trained assessors.
    • These tests help the employees get a better understanding of themselves as in where they stand, what their strengths are in terms of fulfilling job roles and tasks, their shortcomings, and even what could be done to improve on their shortcomings.
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    Ask your boss for a personal scorecard. With these, employees can be shown the effects (positive or negative) which their skills, personality, competencies, behaviors, and functioning have on the business, project, or organization. This way the management/managers are able to see where the employee believes they need improving and, what's more, the employees will be able to identify their own gaps and work on bridging them.
    • Ideally, all employees then get an opportunity to initiate their own learning be it asking the organization for certain training programs or workshops and then taking charge of their own learning and growth. Bosses should also look at their own feedback to pinpoint what they need to offer their employees to make this feasible.
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    Use the feedback from the scorecard. Once the scorecards are filled out, your boss should give you feedback. Otherwise the scorecards serve no purpose! Your boss should encourage you to develop your own objectives while simultaneously making sure they're aligned with the team's/department's/group's/organization's objectives.
    • Feedback should also address the measures to take in order to achieve the objectives and by when – a time frame is a must. These objectives and measures can and should be revisited from time to time to check their efficacy, too.
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    Ask for 360-degree feedback. This is an alternative to the traditional appraisal system. With this way, information is collected about you, the employee, from all areas – self-assessment, peers, superiors, and subordinates. This provides a combined opinion which is definitely more accurate, objective and reliable.
    • This can let you know your employee gap on all levels and to what extent the gaps are present. Ideally, it'll also inform you what should be done to fill the gaps, what training programs would be required (and are available), what mentoring options you have, and what workshops would be useful.
    • The feedback is substantiated by multiple responses, leading to more openness and transparency. Sometimes, when the feedback is anonymous, others are likely to be more honest.

Part 2
Filling Your Employee Gap

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    Ask your boss to define the expectations of your position. This is often referred to as the "competency based performance management system." Using this approach, skills and traits with levels of proficiency expected are assigned to every job. Based on this, you know exactly what to shoot for.
    • You, the employee, can then absorb the precise skills required to keep you competent enough to take charge of your tasks, responsibilities, learning and growth. Not only this, it encourages you to aim for the highest level of competence in the most efficient and effective manner. When you know what is expected of you, you can rise to the top.
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    Work with a mentor. Mentors play a vital role in developing employees, aiding in their learning and growth. They can give you advice on establishing objectives, the strategies to be adopted to achieve the objectives, and keep your morale up, too. What's more, a mentor likely has access to resources and a vast network of people who can help as well.
    • A mentoring relationship should focus on building and developing skills, competencies and personality. The personality aspect involves helping the mentee review his strengths and shortcomings, appropriate behavior and actions to be implemented, and work on improving communication skills, problem solving skills, and teamwork habits.
    • Having a mentor could help you move in alignment with the expectations of the organization. This can to a great extent serve the purpose of reducing gaps between where you stand and what is expected of you ‐ both in the short and long term.
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    Seek out training through your work. There is a growing need for employees to keep pace with the changing trends and technologies at the workplace. They need to keep their skills updated at all times – it's not just you! Because of this, a lot of workplaces offer training. One of the best ways to keep pace and eliminate or minimize employee gap is through the training program at your work. If your work offers one, take advantage of it!
    • Not all training programs suit every employee. The training program should be one offered by your work, chosen carefully by your boss. It may be a waste of time and resources (money, facilities, trainers) if the training program is not applicable to the employee or the field, offered by some third-party organization who doesn't have your goals in mind.
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    Take responsibility in workshops, training, and at seminars. Your willingness, competence, and if you are able to tap into your potential are all key factors in the success of any training program. If you are ready, willing, and able, you could be trained in such a way that could make you multi-skilled and ready to take on diverse roles and responsibilities desired of you. However, if you don't take the training to heart, it's likely you'll end up right back at square one.
    • Through training, the gap and shortcomings that have been hindering you from fulfilling your objectives may fade away. This allows you to explore your work world to your full potential. Again, only if you take advantage of it!
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    Get trained to help with your adaptability and morale, too. Training enhances adaptability of the employees by preparing them for any changes in the workplace or in technology. With this training, you may become readily able to accommodate the team, the organization as a whole, and even yourself.
    • Training enables employees to perform better, often resulting in work being more tolerable. This can impact their motivation and job satisfaction because they feel "not left out" or "not left behind."
    • You may also feel taken care of by your organization because they've provided you with a platform to keep yourself updated, prepared for the future, and made valuable. Training is a concrete attempt to retain you and make you a part of the team. When you feel this, you may feel more connected to your work, improving your morale.
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    Attend a workshop. A workshop is something different than a formal training program, seminar or meeting. It can be used in tandem with training and development programs. It's usually more informal and an ideal platform to introduce the employees to ways to reduce the employee gap. Sometimes, the employees are asked to determine ways they think would help them. In other words, it's more hands-on than training usually is.
    • Workshops are great for soft skills, too, which are just as important. They can even help with relations between clients, customers, peers, and managers. On the other hand, they can also address oral and written communication skills, negotiation skills, and correspondence issues. If your aim is to improve your soft skills, workshops are the way to go.
    • In workshops, the employees get a chance to take ownership of their learning, skills, growth in the organization and acceptance in the organization. Afterward, you emerge feeling like you have a hold on the company's ideas and are part of their vision.
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    Learn the technology. Often workshops are used to introduce technologies and trends that the organization would like to adopt. Once you know what technology is to be incorporated, learn it! This can greatly lessen the gap by keeping you up with where the company sees itself going.
    • If you don't know how to learn the technology, odds are you have a wealth of options you haven't even thought about. Would your coworkers be able to help? Could you take a class? What about the Internet? A mentor? If your company doesn't offer training, seek out ways to solve the problem yourself.

Part 3
Staying on Top

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    Ask for post-training feedback. Once you've completed the training program, attended workshops and seminars, taken classes, and, what's more important, you feel more competent, ask for feedback. How have you improved? Do you now meet all expectations? Has the gap been filled?
    • It may be helpful if you get feedback now in the same form you received it prior to your training. This way you can juxtapose the two against each other, comparing your progress. You'll be able to see on paper just how much you've bettered yourself and your career.
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    Retake an assessment test. If you visited an assessment center and took a test, take it again! This is a concrete way to see what improvements you made and in what areas. It may also shed light on what areas still need a nudge in the right direction. But be sure to retake the same test; retaking a different one won't be as easy to compare.
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    Give your opinion. Workshops, seminars, and training are great platforms for employees’ opinions to be gathered. This time should be used for the employees to feel more visible – so take advantage of it! How did training help you? What could make it better? Should any part be more widely implemented?
    • This is an opportunity to come up with solutions for problems, voice your concerns, give recommendations, and ask any questions you've been dying to ask. Not only will this be a time for you to give feedback to your company, but this time the tables will turn – the company can use your feedback to better themselves as employers.
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    Talk to your boss about your efforts. Odds are with all this talk about feedback and your job performance, your boss knows you're up to something. Have a one-on-one with him or her and address all the efforts you've made and how you can see yourself implementing what you've learned in the future. Now that you've gone to all this work, do they have any other ideas that might make your work even better?
    • Use this time to not only talk about the training (and how it might be made even more effective) but to also talk about this problem can be avoided in the future. Whatever worked best for you, could it be implemented regularly? Could other employees be served well by this same tactic? How might this affect the company overall?
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    Continually update your skills. The work world is always changing and improving. Even if you meet expectations now, things may change in the future. This goes for every employee! To stay on top of your game, keep on training. Attend seminars and workshops even if you don't have to. Keep an eye on technology. Stay in contact with your mentor. With these tactics, it doesn't have to be a recurring issue.
    • With any luck, your experiences will show your employer what training is effective. Talk to your boss about implementing a new program if you previously had to take matters into your own hands.
    • Don't shy away from new skills, either. Just because your job doesn't require it doesn't mean it wouldn't make the job easier. If you find an opportunity to learn something that may improve your performance, take it! You'll be impressed with yourself and your boss will likely be, too.


  • This is an issue that happens to people in practically every profession. For this reason, recruitment, training, and assessment centers exist. Talk to your boss about the resources he or she is aware of that can turn you into an even more valuable employee.

Sources & Citations

  • "The fifth discipline," by Peter Senge
  • "Business: The Ultimate Resource," by Jonathan Law

Article Info

Categories: Job Strategies | Work World