How to build a skills library in 10,000ft

by Natalie Rohde

At its core, every company is a collection of people, and every company is only as good as its people. As a manager, effectively managing a team’s talent, time, and growth is likely your most important job and one of our core focuses at 10,000ft. 

Historically, much of the nuance of project staffing has been kept in the Resource Manager’s head — things like: Who works well together? What does this person like to do best? Who has that skills we need for this job? Who wants to build that skill? 

A great Resource Manager is constantly balancing these questions with logistics to make decisions about who can actually take on the work. Who’s available? Who's over capacity? Where do we need resource leveling?

One of our favorite use cases of the custom fields feature in 10,000ft is to create a Skills Library for your organization. Using custom fields as a way to track skills not only allows you to have insight about the breadth of talent on your team; it also means that you can find the best person for the job based on more than just their discipline and availability (while also keeping those important logistics in mind, of course). You can keep your team engaged, and get better project outcomes in return.

How to set up a Skills Library in 10,000ft

  1. Navigate to your Account Settings
  2. From here, scroll to the bottom of the menu on the left and select “People Custom Fields”
  3. Name the field and add an optional description
  4. Select the “Multiple Choice Drop Down Menu” option so multiple skills can be added to each team member
  5. Add as many field options as you’d like. These can be anything from technical skills, like Photoshop or SQL proficiency, to discipline-related skills, such as UX design or brand storytelling, and soft skills, like strong public speaking or mentorship experience. Once you save this page, the fields will automatically get alphabetized, so don't worry about entering options out of order. You can also add to this list later on.
  6. Make sure to select the "Use as people filter option" box so you can find people based on this information
  7. Hit "Save"

Once you’re set up, here are five ways you can leverage the Skills Library.

1. Staff projects based on dynamic needs

Keeping track of employees’ skills helps you find the right person on your team for every project. For example, let’s say you’re kicking off a branding project for a new group of wellness centers. You need to find a designer located in your Los Angeles office who’s both familiar with the healthcare industry and well-versed in branding campaigns. 

From the Add Team Member menu on the project page in 10,000ft, you can easily locate the right person by filtering to:

  • Discipline: Design
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Skills: Branding, healthcare, digital campaigns

Or from the schedule view, you can perform the same search and pivot the order to sort by availability, so the right people who fit your project timeline bubble up to the top. 

2. Reassign work when someone is out unexpectedly

If a critical team member calls in sick, you can reassign the work to someone else right away. Using your Skills Library in 10,000ft, you can find people who closely match the skills of the person you need to replace. 

Let's say your Senior Copywriter, Mikael, is out unexpectedly and you need a copywriter with IT experience and strong social media skills for a high-priority project — stat. From the reassign menu, you can find people who fit the same criteria and quickly get the work passed off to the next best match, without losing valuable project progress.

Sometimes you have to decide which skills aren’t critical. For example, if it’s more important that you have a Senior Copywriter on the job than someone who’s familiar with the IT industry, you can adjust your search criteria accordingly right from the reassign menu.

3. Keep employees engaged on project work

You can also use the Skills Library to engage employees and help them visually map their career growth goals with the opportunities at your company. 

According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees stay at a company longer if it invests in their careers. When you add skills to an employee’s profile, you can also include that person’s interest areas. For example, Ken might want to hone his client presentation skills and get better at public speaking. To capture this type of information, you can set up a separate custom field for “Desired Skills” or “Growth Areas”.

Let’s say you’re staffing the research phase of a new consulting project with a familiar banking client that requires multiple client presentations. You can search for people who have strong experience working in finance, and you could also pull in Ken to work on his presentation skills.

This gives you a chance to expose employees to opportunities they’re interested in, and to pair them with more experienced team members who can offer guidance in those areas. 

Whereas previously, this would have relied on you remembering that four months ago, Ken mentioned his interest in getting better at client presentations, you now have a plan of record within your project staffing workflow. And if anyone else is helping with project staffing, it's easy for them to surface the same information. 

Using this feature will help you support your employees’ career growth by making sure they’re doing work that excites them. And engaged employees naturally produce better project outcomes, so it's a win on all sides. 

4. Close skills gaps

Another way to use the Skills Library is to strategically prepare your company for future plans of branching into new industries, products, or services by understanding which skills your team already has, and where you need to hire. 

According to the Society for Human Resource Professionals, 75% of HR managers have experienced difficulty in recruiting due to a skills gap. A design agency, for example, may want to keep up with its competition by hiring developers who have experience building virtual reality software. 

A well-defined Skills Library allows you to assess current employee skillsets and identify gaps so you can make better hiring decisions that support the company’s overall vision and strategy.

5. Make performance reviews more engaging

Finally, the Skills Library can help make your employee performance reviews more personalized and engaging. As a manager, you can discuss an employee’s current core skills and levels of proficiency during each performance review. You can ask employees if they feel any skills are missing, and to share skills that they’d like to work on in the future to grow their careers. 

According to a study by PwC, more than half of millennials said feedback should be given frequently on the job, and the Skills Library provides the perfect vehicle for setting up thoughtful conversations. In between reviews, you’ll have an actionable way to make sure your team is getting to do work they’re passionate about (see #3), and to make sure they know that their personal career growth goals matter to your organization. 

The bottom line

A Skills Library in 10,000ft can be a powerful tool for managers to acknowledge employees and talk about their goals and dreams for the future. It teaches people to be better project managers, anticipate outcomes more holistically, and be accountable when things change. It keeps the company and employees growing together, and just as importantly, it also helps each project team produce the best outcomes.