Competency-based Career Development is a planned system to link individual career needs with the organization’s workforce requirements. From the employee perspective, they are looking for career opportunities that address their strengths, support development, provide challenges and match personal interests, values and preferred working styles. The organization on the other hand is looking to have employees develop themselves in a way the addresses the organizational needs. Therefore, putting career development tools and processes in place to highlight the options and career paths available to employees is in both the organization’s as well as the employee’s best interests.
Employee’s perspective, competencies:
- Define the key requirements for successful performance within jobs
- Support the identification of potential career paths within and across job families
- Allow employees to plan their careers, based on their interests as well as strengths and gaps in their personal competency inventory
- Support employees in determining and implementing targeted learning and development programs in line with their interests and competency gaps
- Increase engagement and a sense of empowerment, due to their ability to more effectively plan and manage their careers.
Organization’s perspective, competencies:
Serve as a foundation for developing tools and programs to support employee career development, for example:
- Assessment tools and processes to support employee / job matching
- Career development self-help guides and resources for learning and development.
- Coaching and mentoring programs.
- Career resource centers and counselling.
- Collaborative learning, knowledge sharing, communities of practice – e.g., through social networking tools, wikis, etc.
- Formal structured development programs for job groups (job rotation, in-class courses, remote on-line learning, mentoring, tuition reimbursement).
Career Development versus Succession Planning
Career Development traditionally has been driven primarily by employees. Organizations provide the frameworks, tools and processes, but the responsibility rests with employees to take advantage of these to advance in their careers.
Succession Management, on the other hand, has traditionally been management driven. Key roles are identified and ranked lists of suitable candidates are prepared based on their existing competencies and / or potential to perform in the targeted roles or levels. Potential to perform can be identified in a number of ways: past performance in career track positions; supervisory assessments of potential; standardized assessment programs (e.g., assessment centres); etc. The lists are used to appoint candidates as positions become available.
More recently, however, the lines between the traditional concepts of Career Development and Succession Planning have blurred. Organizations are instituting programs that allow employees to progress through a phased program of development aimed at increasing employee competencies and preparing them to take on increased responsibility. These programs typically include formalized in-class training; planned work assignments; assessments at key stages; and, “gradation” defined through some form of assessment or certification, and / or appointment to targeted roles or levels.
Technology has significantly improved the ability of organizations to address both employee needs for development, while ensuring developmental activities align with organizational goals.
The subsequent blogs provide a more detailed look how competencies enhance the Career Planning and Development.
Steps to Implement the Competency-based Career Path
The major steps in developing a competency-based career pathing system are:
- Put together a resource panel of experts on the target and feeder jobs who will set direction and specify the expected job performance criteria.
- Define tasks and characteristics, through the resource panel, and survey job incumbents to obtain their perceptions of which job tasks and personal characteristics contribute to success in the target and feeder jobs.
- Identify top performers in the target and feeder jobs, using performance criteria specified by the panel.
- Conduct in-depth interviews with both superior and average incumbents in the target and feeder jobs to find out what they do and how they do it.
- Based on the outcome of stage 4, develop a competency model of people in the target and feeder jobs by identifying those competencies that make the biggest contribution to outstanding performance as opposed to the competencies that all job holders need.
- Analyze career paths by combining the survey (stage 2) and the interview (stage 3) results for target and feeder jobs.
- Implement the career pathing system through a number of options:
- Computer-based tasks and competency inventories
- Performance and potential assessment linked to new job opportunities;
- Systematic counseling
- Career development and related training programs.
Competency based Succession Planning
Competency-based succession planning enables an organization to determine the critical current competencies necessary for success in key jobs and the strategic competencies necessary for future success. Once this has determined the ‘best fit’ people, specific developmental plans can then be formulated that build upon these competency requirements to allow the individual’s abilities to meet the strategic business needs of the organization.
Steps to implement Competency-based Succession Planning
For the competency-based succession planning to be complete, a logical process consisting of a certain number of steps must be followed. These key steps are as follows:
- Identify critical jobs that the organization needs to fill
- Develop a competency model from critical jobs, determining the competencies needed at each step of the job family ladder
- Develop the most appropriate assessment methods (assessment centre, screening, interviewing, etc) and assess people against the competency model of the job
- Make the decision whether to:
- Promote from inside
- Now or after competencies x, y, z have been developed
- Not promote but consider
- Possible lateral transfer
- Keeping in current job deselection
- Recruit from outside if no one in the organization is ready or can be developed in time
- Feed the human resource management information system to track:
- Promotable employees, for future competencies monitoring
- Competency requirements of target jobs.
Uncover Hidden Talent and Attract new Talent: By implementing Career Pathing, especially Competency-based Career Pathing, managers also discover information that they didn’t know about their employees, such as hidden ambitions or skills. It can happen that an employee occupies a position that is below their ability. By leveraging Career Pathing and Competencies it is an easy task to evaluate an employee’s abilities and strengths for a specific job, thus ensuring the best people in each role.
Enhance Commitment and Engagement: Most organisations would like to improve or maintain high levels of employee engagement and retention. When employees see that an organisation genuinely investing in their professional growth and development, they are far more likely to feel a sense of commitment to their work. Providing employees with the tools they require to grow their careers within your organisation significantly lessens the likelihood of them seeking opportunities elsewhere.
Improved Workforce and Succession Planning: Today’s modern world of work is more dynamic than ever, presenting greater challenges within long-term workforce planning. The adoption of Career Pathing will allow the organisation to avoid having to hurriedly fill roles with employees who aren’t best-suited, and then trying to deal with an accelerated learning curve.