Productivity Software Proficiency: Identifying Gaps, Developing Skills

“You need to work on this.”

“You need to work on formatting columns, creating pivot tables, and animating presentations.”

Ok... so which of the previous two statements is more helpful when it comes to developing your employees’ software skills? The latter, of course. It’s clear, actionable feedback that can be used to improve proficiency.

So why do so many settle on the former?

If you’re going to assess the skill levels of your employees on office software—or on anything for that matter—just knowing where they stand is only part of the issue. You’ll also want a plan for improvement.

First, look at how you’re assessing your employees’ skills, and then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is my method robust?
  2. Can it assess multiple skill levels?
  3. Does it evaluate proficiency, accuracy and response times?
  4. Does it minimize “the luck factor” (i.e., guessing correctly on multiple choice questions)?
  5. Will it give me a clear idea of any deficiencies?
  6. Can I use the results to customize instructional plans?
  7. Will it measure ongoing progress?
  8. Am I able to test knowledge on ALL of the clerical/administrative software used in my company?

And here are two tips: 1) You’ll get the most out of the process if you pre- and post-test. Identify gaps in knowledge with pre-testing, offer training based on the results, and then test again to gauge improvement. 2) Having an incentive system in place offers extra motivation to improve.

Another thing to keep in mind when testing is that you might get a pleasant surprise! Some of your employees may have skills that were not immediately apparent. In that case, you have a great opportunity to develop them, and perhaps even open up new avenues of production.

Hopefully, if you’re not effectively evaluating the skills your employees have, you can now see the benefit of doing so. If insufficient software skills are creating productivity problems, robust skills testing can illuminate a path to proficiency. If everything seems to be humming along, there is generally room for improvement. Just remember: your testing needs to clearly identify problem areas… you need to know exactly what to fix before you can fix it!

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