What Are Competency Targets, And Why Are They Important?

Many teams and organizations embarking on the journey to become skills-based are at different stages of maturity. Whether that’s moving from spreadsheets to skills management software, Having a binary view of skills, all the way to the utopian goal where structured skills data can support vital talent management decisions.

But, something that is often misunderstood or left unnoticed and is critical to adding value is the concept of competency targets.

Why? Context Matters.

What is a competency target?

A competency target is a structured rating schema that relates to a team or role that provides an expectation from the organization for those people to apply those specific skills.

Let’s take the example of developers within your team or organization. You have a mixture of people from entry and mid-level to senior.

All of these people apply similar skills to their daily work, but you don’t expect them all to be able to apply them at the same level.

The nuance to skill and competency gaps becomes even more important when you begin using this data within performance reviews and supporting training, upskilling, and career mobility decisions.

Comparing skill gaps, and competency gaps

Taking the example of Developers above, if we were to visualize their skill levels within a matrix, we can see that there could be a few issues in our people’s ability to apply the skill of HTML. At a quick glance, this could demonstrate the need to invest in training or it could become a risk to the organization.

However, When we apply the lens of competency targets to this report, the data changes, providing additional insights into genuine skill gaps for developers and impacts to our organization.

In this instance, we can see a significant competency gap across our developer’s ability to apply the skill of solutions acquisition.

This bares the question, what do you do now? What existing training can support our team, and what investments do we have to make?

Closing current skill and competency gaps

Many organizations invest heavily in training programs. They might exist in external training providers or internal documentation, or there might simply be a content gap.

It’s important to consider that training content should be expected to support the growth of an individual to a specific level. There shouldn’t be an expectation that a junior-level HTML course would help elevate an individual to become an expert.

In a skills-based world, a core requirement for any skills management software should be to enable mapping between training material and competency targets.

For Skills Base, this is called the training module. It’s a simple way to drive ROI on training initiatives by creating the vital relationships between skills, competency targets and training.  

Closing Future skill and competency gaps

Just like developing talent for their existing roles, you need to have a competency view to motivate and support people to progress in their careers.

Linear career pathing and mobility

Historically the concept of career progression was simple. You finish a degree, get a job in your field, and continue to progress into senior positions. This meant that supporting people was a lot simpler and could be easily replicated across your workforce. There also wasn’t as much autonomy for individuals to take control over their own development.

Some people enjoy the notion of hyper-specialization and having a single, linear pathway, but the reality of the situation is that everyone has their own skills and story to tell, and organizations need to take a more personalized approach to career development.

Non-linear career pathing and mobility

The present-day situation is a lot more dynamic. People obtain, learn and apply skills in a much more informal way, and are eager to be recognized for this at work. Younger generations are also transitioning jobs at a much higher rate than previous generations.

If we clearly articulate competency targets for teams and roles, the whole organization is unlocked for individuals to take control of potential career opportunities.

Taking the earlier analogy and looking closer at Christina, who is a developer, we can see that she is 96% competent in her current role. She is also 88% competent in the senior developer role. Using this information, she can work with her manager to upskill herself and ultimately be considered for a promotion.

She could also communicate that she is no longer motivated to be a developer and work closely to upskill herself in other areas by focusing on specific roles-of-interest across the organization.

For Skills Base, this is called career mobility insights, and is being used by organizations to become employers of choice that focus on employee development. 

Ultimately, competency targets are a critical aspect to any organization looking to maintain a productive workforce that is focused on continually developing its people. 

Skills Management Software putting you in control

As you begin to lay the foundations for understanding skills data across your workforce, having a fit-for-purpose skills management software is crucial, but just as important is a robust methodology

If you’re an existing Skills Base customer, looking to leverage competency targets, or someone just starting out, schedule a meeting with the team, and we’ll help you along the way.


Ready to start benefiting from skills management? Book your free 30-minute meeting with a skills expert today. 

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