Skills Mapping & Prioritisation for the Pogány-havas Association
The Pogány-havas Association works to conserve mountain hay meadows in Romania, which are among the most biodiverse in Europe but are at immediate risk from abandonment or conversion into sheep pasture.
With a broad mandate and many varied projects, we were overwhelmed by a sense of obligation to communicate and justify the work we do for external stakeholders.
Having developed a clearer vision, mission and organisational strategy, we needed to determine what skills were already present within the team to achieve our mission and what needed to be brought in or learnt to run the organisation effectively.
An exercise was used to map out the skills needed for our organisation to achieve its mission; the skills already present in the team, and those that needed to be brought in or learnt.
Creating a skills map meant that we were able to identify where our knowledge and skill gaps lay within the organisation, where we were more effective and where we needed to build our skill base to run the organisation and tackle the challenges identified in our SWOC analysis.
The Pogány-havas Association works to conserve mountain hay meadows in Romania, which are among the most biodiverse in Europe but are at immediate risk of abandonment or conversion into sheep pasture, both of which damage biodiversity. Mountain meadows are difficult to maintain, though small-scale farming using traditional methods creates and maintains a mosaic landscape which is highly beneficial to biodiversity. However, young people are leaving for better paid work, and farming is not seen as a desirable job. We are a development organisation that aims to bring abandoned meadows under active management before invasive scrub takes over, endangered and endemic species disappear, and traditional knowledge of meadow management is lost.
Our vision is that “The people in the region receive more income thanks to actions based on local resources. By informing, educating people and by fellowship and actions (kaláka spirit) our community is happy with its situation. We wish to become a model region where people live in harmony with nature and tourists visit us to experience this kind of lifestyle.”
Pogány-havas has employees with a mix of skills and backgrounds working on a range of projects to conserve the natural environment, increase local incomes and preserve the region’s cultural heritage.
Through the process of an organisational SWOC analysis we had identified a number of strengths that could be built on, issues to rectify and project opportunities to utilise. These included knowing what project work to prioritise and finish, improving fundraising capability, and communicating knowledge and experience internally and externally.
To tackle these issues staff development was highlighted as a priority. Staff development would help team members feel confident and able to manage workloads, identify projects where we could have a specific impact and complete the work needed as well as have the ability to raise funds for the projects that we identified would help achieve our mission. Understanding where there was a gap in skills would help us decide where to prioritise our time and determine what work could realistically be achieved and where we might need to improve to achieve our goals.
What you did
The skills mapping was completed as a group activity. We reviewed our vision was and the organisation as a whole and thought about the skills and knowledge needed to run it effectively.
Four lists were drawn up:
- Need: all skills needed to run the organisation effectively;
- Have: skills team members in the organisation already have to run the organisation;
- Want: skills (top five) team members would like to acquire in their role; and
- Need to find: skills that no one has and cannot learn that could be sourced from people outside of the organisation.
The process was as follows:
The team brainstormed as a group the skills required for the different areas of the organisations strategy, both in terms of technical knowledge for successful programme implementation, and those necessary for the successful management of the organisations.
Each team member then put a tick next to the skill they already had.
Those with multiple ticks were agreed as areas for coordination; those with only one tick were identified as areas to be careful that team member was not overwhelmed with work requiring this skill.
Skills that no team member had but were considered useful were then brought forward. Team members identified skills that they were able and willing to learn by again putting their initials beside the relevant skill. This helped form the basis of personal learning and development plans.
Those that remained were, largely, professional skills that the team could not learn in the timescales available, for example, legal and accounting skills. These were prioritised as consultancy or future staff roles for the organisation.
The results were plotted into a skills/knowledge matrix, which made it easier to visualise. Responsibility for increasing the knowledge or gaining the skills wanted and needed was allocated to different team members. Deadlines were identified for when we thought that these should be achieved.
The outcome of this exercise was twofold:
- We now have an improved understanding of the breadth of skills required to deliver their programme effectively and the contribution each of us is making
- Management had an improved understanding of the skills available in the team, the gaps, and importantly, the areas in which people want to develop.
Overall the exercise could be used as a useful team building and planning exercise in most developing organisations, and in mature organisations with a significant change in leadership or programme scope/ scale. We adapted it for our situation as the culture here is not to be vocal about what we want to do, so we wrote or initials on the wall and discussed as a group rather than stating to the group where we felt we were strong.
The tool used was developed by the facilitator for this specific organisation. It was based on the premise that staff feel motivated and engaged, and are therefore more productive, when there is clarity on how they contribute to the success of the organisation and have opportunities to learn and grow.