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What’s the Difference Between Skills and Competencies?

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Why Job Roles Matter

For most organizations, getting your existing employees to fit into a specific role can be a tough task, especially when the employee isn’t happy with their current position. It’s often the result assigning someone based on skills rather than the job itself.

Typically, organizations looking to find someone for a position tend to look for specific skill sets in people so they can divide the work load and fill up the position. Alternatively, developing job roles for any position helps find the right person based on the needs and requirements of that position.

In this article, we’ll go over why job roles matter, why it’s important to update job descriptions regularly, and how the concept of employee skills comes in between.

Let’s dive right in.

 

What Exactly Are Job Roles?

The term job role is often used interchangeably with the terms job title and job description. They may be technically different, but they all point to the same thing – everything to do with a certain job position.

There are a lot of things that affect job roles, and there are a lot of things that are affected due to job roles. The following factors can accurately summarize what job roles are and what impacts them in an organization.

  • Career Paths – A massive part of any job role is the career path it follows. The job role can be at the start of multiple career paths, in the middle, or at the end of a career path. In any case, the job role is better defined depending on the position in the career path.
  • Succession Planning/Training – Job roles provide an opportunity to set up better succession plans. As a result, it lets companies develop better succession training sessions for potential candidates/employees.
  • Performance Management – Assigning job roles helps focus the employee’s effort on specific functions. That helps measure the performance better, improves motivation, and develops consistency in work.
  • Salary and Compensation – The compensation plans and the salary structure directly impact the job role and its complexity. However, the complexity of a job rarely impacts the salary and compensation.
  • Corporate Culture – The corporate culture can have a massive impact on the employees’ job roles. For example, the job role will be impacted by whether the organization has a vertical or horizontal hierarchy.
  • Future Plans – The future plans of companies affect job roles because they are designed to then help achieve certain organizational goals and objectives.

Other things that impact job roles may include the employee rosters, ADA accommodations, and company policies.

 

Job Roles Vs. Skill Economy

In recent times, many organizations have floated and backed the idea of a skill economy. What that means is that they consider the skills required for a role to be the number one factor when filling out a position.

In that case, a digital marketer who can code effectively may be given a coding job. Therefore, the skills each person and employee has, determine whether or not they should get a specific job. While it’s true that if someone has the skills for something, they would be able to do it effectively, it’s not necessarily true that they’d be a good fit for a specific position.

Many organizations have adopted a methodology where only the skills of their employees matter. However, assigning someone to various positions based solely on their skills isn’t the best strategy. It may lead to some great work in the short run, but eventually, it would start to become less efficient.

There may be many reasons why that can happen. For example, just because a person has a specific skill doesn’t mean they want to develop their career with it. You may hire someone for the short run, but if all your hires eventually change or leave their posts, you never truly have someone dedicated to that specific succession path. Eventually, you’ll always have to hire someone from scratch, develop loyalty, and work harder to retain good people.

Similarly, there’s also a good chance that the employee doesn’t understand the performance goals associated with the skills they have. If you manage to change an employee’s job position too many times based on their skills, there’s a good chance that the employee will burn out and not be able to work with full potential.

 

Why Job Roles Work Better

As opposed to a skill economy, job roles offer a framework for skills, competencies, and the proficiency levels of any employee that help estimate their capability to perform in that role.

Just having a skill means you understand how to do something, the concept behind it, and how to derive positive results. That leaves a lot of room for change. The job role defines one’s competency to take that skill and put it to use in different cases. The level of proficiency provides a base or foundation that determines the level of skills based on the competency.

Here’s a deeper look into the three components of a job role.

  • Skills – The skills are the first part of the job role; they are determined based on what the job exactly is. For example, you have to determine what skills are needed for the job in your organization, in your industry, and according to your company culture.
  • Competencies – The competencies of a person determine the ability to successfully and efficiently use the skills you’ve laid down. Based on the job role, some competencies may include things like teamwork, critical thinking, communication, work ethic, leadership, career management, and more.
  • Proficiency Level – The proficiency level is a guideline that helps identify the level of proficiency with each skill.

When you combine the skills, competencies, and level of proficiency needed, you can effectively fill a role with someone who fits a position accurately.

For example, typically, you’ll see a job post for a Java developer that asks for skills in Java, project management, and good written communication. However, you’ll hire better when you consider that you need a distinguished Java developer with advanced project management and communication skills.

 

Developing Better Job Roles through Better Job Descriptions

As a company, you can’t rely on one job description for all your positions. When you opt to assign specific job roles to each position, you have to update your job descriptions too.

As a result, it’s a good practice to consistently modify and edit your job descriptions to reflect any changes in the job roles. Eventually, it will help you develop employees that are more inclined to fit in the job role and with your company. At the same time, it offers a chance to address any issues that may have arisen in the past with the same job position.

Furthermore, it also offers a chance to solve issues and problems with existing talent. You never know, an employee may do better in another position in the company, provided you can lay down the entire job role, career path, and internal mobility opportunities to them. To understand this, you have to make sure that the role includes the competencies and proficiency levels for each skill.

 

Better Employee Experience with Complete Job Roles

The concept of job roles is not only beneficial to the organization but also to the employees. It helps them understand their position better, helps them understand potential career paths, and helps them understand how they can upskill, or reskill to fit a different role. Eventually, that leads to increased retention and company loyalty, thus improving productivity and motivation.

It is clear that job roles matter for many reasons and understanding the benefits of their use is a start to a stronger talent strategy. If you are rethinking the way you manage your people, it’s important to think about how roles fit in and support your long-term execution of your plan. To learn more, take a look at a few of these helpful webinars:

Transforming Verified Skills into Verified Success

The Business Risk of Unverified Skills Data

How to Build an Adaptive AI-Assisted Career Architecture

Ready to see job roles in action? Request a demo of our Competency Management software.

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