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Developing Core Competencies and Job Leveling to Retain Talent

May 30, 2024

As employers continue to compete for talent, it’s increasingly important they invest in and retain the human capital that already exists within their organizations. While developing employees is nothing new, organizations are becoming more transparent and deliberate in establishing career development ladders so that their employees can see a growth path for career advancement. 

Developing Core Competencies 

Developing core competencies can help an employer provide a path for career advancement. Competencies are a set of standards that define the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to perform at a specific job level and/or position. A competency model is a collection of competencies that establish successful performance in a work setting. Competency models provide a solid foundation for talent management—such as hiring, training and development, promotions, succession planning, and talent gap analysis—if established correctly. 

Job Leveling 

In recent years, many organizations have implemented job leveling to distinguish between different job levels within the same function or position. For example, a project manager responsible for a $10,000 construction build is likely compensated differently than a project manager responsible for a $1 million construction build. While the job-related duties are the same, there is a vastly different level of responsibility between the two positions and, as such, a different compensation package. Creating levels, helps an organization establish a clearly defined differential between the positions, justifies an elevated compensation package, and provides growth so that the $10,000 project manager sees a career path forward.   

Benefits of Developing and Implementing a Competency Model 

There are several benefits to developing and implementing a competency model in an organization:  

  • It provides transparent career progression for employees, and a road map for them to take accountability for their personal career development.   
  • It improves employee engagement and opens the line of communication between employees and their leaders. Providing a competency model framework allows leaders to have meaningful conversations with their employees and establish a mentor/mentee relationship. 
  • It allows the organization to record a skills assessment to help ensure bench strength and create cross-training to avoid position gaps or the hypothetical “irreplaceable” employee. 
  • It promotes upskilling throughout the organization to prepare employees for the next step in their careers and assists with succession planning. 
  • It reduces subjectivity in performance management. Clearly defining competencies provides a benchmark against measuring an employee’s effectiveness. 

The competency model is a tool for promoting successful performance and employee development throughout an organization. It is a valuable tool that can assist an organization in understanding its strengths, weaknesses, and areas of opportunity. It also provides employees with a transparent path to develop and improve their skill sets so they can move through the organization successfully. A competency model can help employers hire, plan, and manage the talent needed to meet the organization’s goals while promoting employee development. 

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Eugene Camm

Eugene Camm is a Director with Compensation Resources, with over 25 years of experience in human resources, including 15 years at the executive level and 10 years as a consultant.

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