Bring Stability to your Career Path with Competency-Based Development

March 13, 2017 Christine Lamothe

For decades career development has been an integral part of HR, but although the name has remained the same, the definition has evolved considerably. Career advancement used to mean promotions and raises at semi-regular intervals until retirement. Today, your career may be more unpredictable. People are changing employers approximately every 4.5 years, as well as exploring new professions. [source] With increasingly fragmented career pathways, employee retention and development become even more important.

By using competencies, you and other HR professionals can manage the complexities of talent management and deliver development programs that benefit the organization and the individual. Finding a balance between the needs of the organization and the employee can be challenging. Fortunately, although this complexity isn’t going away, it’s becoming easier with the use of competency-based talent management.

Competency-based development enhances engagement and retention by giving employees greater career flexibility and more control over the direction they can go. With competencies assigned to every job, and development opportunities assigned to every competency, analyzing your organization’s talent needs and developing employees becomes much easier.

HRSG’s competencies are multi-level, which means that the competency describes what proficiency looks like at progressive levels of expertise. Multi-level competencies are ideal for development programs because:

  • They show how the same competency can link jobs requiring the same or different levels of expertise.
  • They enable organizations to assign development activities to each proficiency level.
  • They give employees a clear development path to follow.So how do you get started? Just follow these easy steps:

Develop a competency architecture
A competency architecture is a set of rules that help you select competencies for every job in a consistent way. An organization’s competency architecture can have an unlimited number of levels. HRSG currently recommends core, job family, and job specific levels.

Create competency profiles
Now you can start selecting competencies and proficiency levels for specific jobs in your organization. These days most organizations purchase a competency dictionary from a respected competency specialist. A dictionary typically includes a collection of high quality competencies, representing the soft-skills applicable to all jobs or competencies related to a technical field such as IT.

Perform competency assessments
Assessments help to set a baseline for each employee, which serves two functions. For employees whose performance does not meet the job’s competency requirements, the assessment will identify gaps that the employee can overcome with the right development activities. For an employee whose performance meets or exceeds the job requirements, the assessment can help identify the next challenge they could work towards.

Learning and development are shedding their reputation as cost centers within the organization and being re-envisioned as vital, strategic activities. When bringing your development programs to life, make sure you’re adhering to these proven best practices:

Support business goals – the framework of development options needs to align with the needs of the organization.
Record employee objectives – make sure each employee clearly articulates their motivation for developing their career.
Include accountability structures – make sure employees know they are accountable to someone other than themselves when it comes to goal-setting.
Reward and acknowledge achievement – it is important to find ways to acknowledge and celebrate diverse milestones.
Ensure easy access – invest in a platform that enables you to easily update the list of learning resources for each competency and proficiency level.
Promote and educate – Ensure that the entire organization understands and supports the new initiative.

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About the Author

Christine Lamothe

Christine is recognized as one of North America’s foremost experts in Competency Based Management and has developed hundreds of competency profiles and assessment tools for clients in both the private and public sector for various business roles. Christine has pioneered and has been active in the CBM field for the last 25 years.

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