I went hiking for the first time and did not plan it well. I ended up wearing my running shoes for the 12 kilometre forest trail hike. The terrain was mostly flat with small inclines thus manageable for a first-time hiker.  Due to the poor choice of footwear, the last 3 kilometres were torturous, to say the least. Not only was my body aching from the hip joint downwards, the sole of one shoe came off meaning the leg was less cushioned and was stepping lower. I paid dearly, with aching muscles for two days. The learning point is during the hike I talked with one hiker who informed me of where to get hiking shoes which I did. Lesson learned and implemented.

Well, you may be wondering where this story falls in on matters human. Like hiking any project be it in your workplace or personal need the right tools. In the effort to be assertive and seize the moment, one might find they have embarked on a project without the proper tools. Usually, in organisation this manifests itself in hiring people without the right skills for the organisation.  Note; this doesn’t mean that the person does not have the right skills, but that the skills just like my running shoes above are poorly suited for the specific environment of the organisation.

In some instances, especially where the organisation decided to recruit from within. This may seem like the easiest and best way to fill up a position since the candidate is already integrated into the system. While it may work in many cases, in some it doesn’t. This may be due to the actual demands of the job have changed over time, the need for a skillset that is not found within the organisation, or just the need for new blood to revitalise a role.

Hiring without analysing organisational needs versus staffing needs is another way an organisation ends up with the wrong “tools” and skills for the job. Organisations need to change over time and it’s critical to always review these needs. This way, some skills might be found to be redundant, others might need upgrading and finally, there may be a need to upskill and introduce new skills.

Determining the right tools and skills for an organisation is a doable exercise. It need not take up lots of organisational resources in terms of time and labour. A simple checklist filled infrequently can greatly aid in having a consistent and running process. Annual audits of organisations tools, skills, the internal and external environment should be conducted. Forecasting should also be incorporated so that whatever is needed in the future is planned for in how, where, and when to acquire it. This removes the element of being caught flat-footed and resulting in to use of inappropriate tools and skills.