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Why Competency Models Are The Secret Sauce For Closing Skill Gaps

It’s no secret that increasing skill gaps is one of the most daunting trends facing organizations today.  The latest PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of CEOs reported that 78% of them ranked skill shortages as the greatest threat to their companies.[i]

In a perfect world, CEOs wouldn’t have to worry about the skill gaps of their workforce – they would let the workforce own the closing of their gaps, even as those requirements change and become increasingly diverse.

If you’re looking for a strategy that will inspire employees toward increased mastery in their current role, you’re in luck!  People are already intrinsically motivated toward mastery, autonomy/self-direction, and purpose.[ii]   What you need is a road map for helping them get there.

Enter competency models. 

Competency models provide each person with a road map for how to be great.  To serve in this capacity, competency models must have these characteristics:

  • Be role-based, so they are relevant
  • Identify behavioral examples that show the various levels of proficiency separating someone who is adequate in that role from someone who is at the top end of the scale, so they can create a picture of what great looks like and demonstrate how to get there
  • Contain those tasks or skills that someone in that particular job role needs to do to achieve corporate strategy
  • Be reviewed at least annually for currency and relevance, and make it easy for those people in the role to continuously improve the model

Once you have models that do that, you need to make them:

  • Easily accessible so people can refer to them as often as needed as they grow in their role
  • Easy for people to measure themselves against, to help guide their development efforts

When embedded into a competency assessment tool, after self-assessment, a competency model provides each person with a baseline that tells them what skill gaps exist and what development activities are needed.   In that way, the model can intrinsically drive achievement motivation. 

Research shows that the more competent people become, the more engaged and satisfied they become and that leads to retention.  And when individuals own closing their skill gaps, the organization’s skill gaps will close.

Can you think of any more effective, low cost way to close skill gaps than inspiring and empowering each person to do it themselves?

[i] Skills gap is forcing CEOs to change how they hire people, PWC. June 4, 2015.

[ii] Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink, Daniel. Riverhead Hardcover. 2009.

Also at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/why-competency-models-secret-sauce-closing-skill-gaps-cheryl-lasse and https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/04/Use-Competency-Models-to-Close-Skill-Gaps-and-Drive-Retention


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