When a team member is hired, it’s most often to fill an open role or provide specific skills that are necessary for success. Whether in a management position or an individual contributor role, a person’s experience and capabilities are typically far greater than what is required for their role.
The additional capabilities that a current resource can provide are known as microskills - specialized skills that are important but may not be needed often enough to necessitate a full-time position. These microskills range from small tasks to entire workstreams included within a larger project.
However, many companies overlook the microskills already present within their existing workforce in favor of looking to a new outside hire or a freelancer. By understanding the depth and value of microskills and how to best tap into what is already available within your company, you can quickly expand the capabilities of your team.
The Importance of Microskills
As services companies begin to provide a wider array of projects to clients than ever before, they also require a greater variety of skills in order to provide such work. However, these new needed skills are often not included in the responsibilities that employees have been hired to provide. That does not mean, however, that they are not present within existing teams.
By outlining the skills necessary for new projects and allowing existing resources to volunteer their own talents, with evidence of their experience provided, your existing team structure may not need a massive overhaul or expansion to deal with new client demands. This is the increased utilization of each resource, allowing team members to put more of their various talents to use in service of the company and making them a more valued asset over time.
How to Categorize Microskills
Being aware of what your people can do outside of their core responsibilities isn’t enough, companies need to properly categorize these skills to leverage them effectively. A modern resource management solution can have your team members’ skills included in their profiles, which can then be matched with task needs. Including microskills can surface lesser known capabilities for when the need arises, helping managers consider a wider range of possibilities for task assignments.
Putting Microskills to Use
Once each team member’s skills have been cataloged, it’s critical that incoming projects be thoroughly broken down so that each related task has its needed skills for completion laid out before assigning. This will allow resource and project managers to coordinate their efforts, matching up resources with tasks they are best suited for, determining availability, and weighing the use of a full-time employee against using a contract worker. This provides a more informed, better utilized approach to project assignments and a more well-rounded approach to how resources are used from day to day.
It’s important to keep in mind that leveraging the newly-found microskills of your workforce should not supersede the core skills that they were hired to provide. If your team members are not able to complete their main duties, then the advantage recently gained can become an unnecessary complication. Managers should consistently review utilization rates and where their teams are spending their time. With the right balance, your team can become a more effective, flexible force within the company.
Getting the Most of Your Talent Pool
Knowing what your team is capable of is just one step toward better resource management, you also need to prepare them for future demands. Learn more about how to best utilize your team through our ebook, “Forecasting and Optimizing Capacity: Why the Future of Your Business Depends On It.”