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Competency and Performance Based Career Planning

A little while ago, I came across a video clip on a social networking site that narrated the age old story of the rabbit, turtle and their famous race. The video starts off with the usual story of rabbit falling asleep and the turtle winning. What caught my attention was that the story does not end there and takes a whole new turn when the rabbit challenges the turtle for another race. This time, the rabbit that had become wiser after its past mistake chooses to run non-stop from start to finish line and thus wins the race. In the next part, the turtle does some thinking and comes to a conclusion that it would possibly never win if they were to continue with the current format of the race. So, it changes the format of the race and challenges the rabbit for one more race. The turtle intelligently chooses a race track with a wide river on it. While the race begins as usual with the rabbit running at the top speed, the changed format completely takes it by surprise. The rabbit fumbles on the banks, while the turtle swims across and reaches the finish line to become a winner once again.

This seemingly simple story has a great moral for all the corporate people. And that moral is ‘identify your core competencies and then change your playing ground to suit your core competencies’. Organizations and employees are often at loggerheads when it comes to competency and performance based career planning. The career path that an employee chooses may not particularly benefit an organization’s goals, similarly, the performance that an organization demands may not do justice to an employee’s competencies.

An organization’s requirements may be somewhat like this:

  • An employee must possess critical skills to overcome challenges.
  • An employee must meet benchmark requirements for his profile.

An employee on the other hand may expect –

  • Job profile to suit his core competencies.
  • Opportunities to excel in his areas of interests.

This conflict can be solved by careful career planning and categorizing employees based on their performance and areas of interests. I would like to share an example of one of our client organizations that encountered this issue of conflict of interest of employees and organization. The client countered issues such as clogged leadership pipeline, errors in promotion strategies, retaining internal talent and misalignment of job profiles.

We approached this business challenge in a very systematic and diagnostic approach. First, we conducted a meeting of all key stakeholders to identify the challenges. Next, we established the critical roles and their corresponding set of competencies. We also established a model of logical vertical and horizontal career paths for each of these roles while focusing on nurturing organizational core competencies and creating internal leaders for future expansions. We designed a 4 Dimensional career planning model that was appropriately balanced to avoid the biases and concentration of career decision powers at single organizational point. Lastly, we prepared an assessment report for every employee along with a career planning process manual that covered philosophy and guidelines.

The result was such that the organization could retain internal talent and identify prospective leaders. It could also identify the high and low performing employees and redeploy them as per their competencies. Thus, the organization and employees both can benefit, if they could come together to realign the careers of employees as per their competencies.

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