Tuesday 5 March 2013

Competency-based Career Planning & Development: Key Definitions

Part 4 of 11 of the CompetencyCoreTM Guide to Career Planning & Development 

This is the fourth in an eleven part series that looks at:
  1. Making the Case for Competency-based Career Planning & Development
  2. Facts, Figures & Findings
  3. Career Planning & Development Defined
  4. Key Definitions of Career Planning & Development
  5. Framework for Competency-based Career Planning & Development
  6. Best Practice Tools & Processes
  7. Implementing Career Planning & Development – Part 1
  8. Implementing Career Planning & Development – Part 2
  9. Implementing Career Planning & Development – Part 3
  10. Key Considerations for Software, Part 1
  11. Key Considerations for Software, Part 2
Using a competency-based approach and framework has been proven to result in more efficient and effective development processes, reduced costs, and more productive, successful and engaged employees. This blog provides some basic definitions fundamental to understanding how competencies enhance the career development experience both for employees and the organization.

Some Key Definitions

Competency is a term that describes a pattern or cluster of actions taken to achieve a result. Competencies demonstrate the following key features:
  • They describe the abilities, skills, knowledge, motivations or other traits required in the job
  • They are required for effective or successful performance of the job or task
  • They are defined in terms of observable behaviors, and therefore can be assessed or measured.

Scaled Competencies
competency-based approachCompetencies can be defined in a number of ways; however, the basic information must include the competency name, a general definition as well as measurable behavioural or performance indicators that define how the competency should be displayed by employees.  Beyond this, competencies can also be scaled to show how the competency is demonstrated across increasing levels of job complexity, scope and / or responsibility.  An example of a competency defined in this way is shown in the following diagram.

competency-based approach

As can be seen, the competency name is “Client Focus” and its general definition is “Providing service excellence to internal and / or external clients”.  In this case, the competency has been defined in terms of increasing levels of proficiency.  Level 1 is a basic level “Responding to immediate client needs” with Level 5,“Ensures continued service excellence”, being the highest level of proficiency typically needed within organizations.  Requirements for specific jobs can then be defined anywhere from Level 1 to Level 5 on the scale.  Thus, perhaps a server in a restaurant might be expected to perform at Level 1 -“Responding to immediate client needs”, whereas an executive in the restaurant chain may be responsible for “Ensuring continued service excellence” (Level 5 proficiency).  In this way, jobs can be mapped to the competency proficiency level needed and progression in proficiency can be established across different jobs and levels in the organization.  This type of competency scale helps in defining logical career paths and ladders across jobs, and thus supports Career Planning and Development.

competency-based approach
Job Competency Profiles or models provide a comprehensive set of behavioural standards for effective performance within jobs.  These standards can include not only the hard skill requirements like education and technical / professional competencies, but also the harder to measure attributes that are so important for success on the job, like the ability to operate effectively in a team environment, initiative, concern for client / customers, results achievement, etc.

succession planning tools
Employee Competency Inventory
Using a competency-based approach allows the employee and the organization to determine the inventory of competencies the employee possesses.

Comparing the employee inventory of competencies against the competencies required in a job allows for a determination of the level of fit between the employee’s competencies and those required for a selected job, or set of jobs.  This process can be applied within the employee’s current job or for other jobs in the organization to which the employee would like to progress in their careers.  Gaps between what is required as compared with what is needed in the job then allows for the identification of a development plan best suited to the employee’s career goals.  Career development and succession planning tools, such as CompetencyCoreTM 5, provide the infrastructure to quickly turn these inventories of competencies into highly effective management reporting tools and employee career development platforms.

The next blog in this series builds on these key definitions to define a Framework for Competency-based Career Planning & Development. Sign up to our blog’s mailing list through the form on the right-hand side to receive the rest of the series in your inbox.

HRSG is a leader in Competency-based Career Planning and Development solutions. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Want to learn more? Competency-based Talent Management, or CbTM, is the best practice for defining job requirements and building effective HR programs to develop skilled, engaged and productive workforces. Download this Best Practice Guide to learn how competencies can increase workforce effectiveness and improve business practices.

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