Thursday, 4 April 2013

Career Planning & Development Software, Part 1

Part 10 of 11 of the CompetencyCoreTM Guide to Career Planning & Development 

This is the tenth 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
Career Development – An Integrated Talent Management Process

Career Planning & Development is a complex process that builds on, and integrates with a number of other key talent management processes.  In fact, Career Development is an integral element of the whole talent management cycle from acquiring new talent, to developing resources, as well as to ensuring your talent is performing to the standard needed by the organization.  Competencies provide the fundamental building blocks for doing this.

From an organizational perspective, it makes sense to design and implement tools and processes to support employee Career Development and advancement.  It empowers and encourages employees to develop themselves in line with organizational needs, providing a pool of qualified and motivated staff willing and interested in filling jobs and roles as they become vacant.  Performance Management and Learning processes also support Career Development, enabling employees learn and understand their strengths and areas for development, and can take actions to close gaps. 

Because of its complexity and links to other Talent Management processes, Career Planning & Development can be facilitated greatly by having well-defined and integrated online Talent Management software.

career planning and development software
What to look for in Software

Career Development typically involves multiple elements that are best supported through on an online system.  As noted in the previous post in this series, best practice organizations most often have a talent management system that stores and reports information on employee competencies.  These systems enable some or all parts of the Career Development process.  There are some key elements that should be looked at when considering a Talent Management system to address your Career Planning & Development needs.
  1. Does the software provide competency management tools?
  2. How is the individual and organization’s information structured?
  3. Does the tool have the capabilities to run competency assessments?
  4. Can you build learning plans to address competency gaps identified during the assessments?
  5. Does the tool have the ability to build employee competency and skill inventories?
  6. What are the capabilities to match employee competencies with the job competency requirements
  7. What is the reporting functionality?
  8. What additional information can be communicated to employees?

Over the next two blog posts, we will examine these questions and considerations in detail, starting with questions 1-3 below, and the remaining ones in the final post in this series. 

Competency Management Tools

Accommodating competency scales and proficiency levels
Most talent management systems come with a library or dictionary tool that stores your information on competencies.  But most are not flexible enough to store libraries of competencies that incorporate multi-level proficiency scales.  One-level competencies – i.e., competency name, definition and performance indicators - are fine when managing talent within positions or jobs (e.g., hiring into jobs, learning and development within jobs, performance management within jobs, etc.), but do not work that well when the organization or the employee is trying to draw relationships across jobs, such as would be the case for determining potential career ladders and paths within the organization. 

To illustrate from an example presented in a previous post in this series, a server in a restaurant might be expected to perform at Level 1 of Customer Focus -“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.  The software that you select should be able to accommodate competency scales at the number of proficiency levels that have been adopted by your organization.

Building Competency-based Job Profiles
The competency management tool should also allow you to build job competency profiles and store this information in a format that is best for your organization.  CompetencyCore 5, for example, allows organizations to build comprehensive job profiles that incorporate:
  • the job title,
  • the main tasks or duties of the job,
  • the key competencies at the proficiency level needed for success in the job,
  • plus other key attributes or requirements the organization may wish to incorporate (e.g., educational / certificate requirements; key performance indicators; etc.). 

A good system should allow the organization to tailor the job profiles to meet its own needs, incorporating those elements that work best for it.  Such a tool also allows the organization to standardize job descriptions across the organization, a function that is particularly important in a multi-location or global organization.

Create Databases of Related Information
In addition, the Competency Management tool should organize and store databases of information mapped to the competencies in the library, for example, learning resources (e.g., on-job activities; courses and e-learning information; etc.) which allow both the employee and manager to plan for learning and career advancement based on the employee’s interests and learning style.

Organizational Structure Information
Surprisingly, many Talent Management software tools do not separate out employee competency information from competency requirements for positions within the organization.  It is important to be able to do this in order to determine potential career paths within the organizational structure independent of the individual employees filling the positions.  In this way, options for typical career paths and ladders within the organization can be mapped and displayed for employee reference.   As well, the organization can use this information to plan and develop career programs for high need / high risk job groups within the organization.

Competency Assessments
A key component for career development is being able to compare employee competencies against the competency requirements for jobs within the organization.  To do this, a competency assessment tool is essential.  These can take many forms, but a typical tool allows employees to self-assess against the competencies needed for various jobs within the organization using a survey with a rating a scale.  The output is a list of the competency strengths and gaps the employee possesses against the competency requirements for the job the employee is considering. 

Such tools should also allow for two-party assessment, for example between an employee and supervisor, or employee and mentor or coach.  This process could also be expanded to incorporate other input points, for example peers, subordinates, and even clients or customers, as would be the case with 360 or multi-source assessments.  By incorporating others in the assessment process, the employee gains another perspective on the competencies that he or she has, or needs to develop.


The next blog in this series focused on the remaining key questions and considerations for selecting career development software. 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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