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Are Workforce Critical Competency Levels Trending Downward? 5 Things You Can Do About It Now

Planning for future competencies

Are we headed into a shortage of quality future leadership?

Many executives who believe that say today’s job candidates are coming up short when it comes to key competencies, with leadership and navigation being at the top of the list of deficient skills.

According to recent survey results from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), today’s leaders are simultaneously recognizing the importance of hiring employees who have potential to master such critical competencies as communication and business acumen. The survey defined competencies as “individual characteristics, including knowledge, skills, abilities, self-image, traits, mindsets, feelings, and ways of thinking, which, when used with the appropriate roles, achieve a desired result.”

It stands to reason that a skilled, knowledgeable, and competent workforce is key to a company’s success, but nearly 4 in 10 of the surveyed executives claim that available candidates come up lacking in critical competencies.

Worse yet?  This looming shortage comes as no surprise.  For several years now, business leaders have expressed concern regarding future leadership shortages. Developing new leaders could well prove to be the top challenge for HR over the next decade.

How can you address this issue?  Read on for five ways you can optimize productivity and increase revenue through improving team competencies and grooming future leaders within your organization.

1.  Give them Resources and Incentives

To foster optimal conditions for employees to improve competencies, you need to provide your workforce with resources. Resources can be anything, from e-learning programs and learning seminars, to manuals, books and/or articles.  But you should also provide some incentive.  You might consider creating a program that offers promotions, bonuses, and raises for those who take advantage of competency training.

2.  Let them Job Shadow

Job shadowing is traditionally part of an onboarding process for new hires, but it can be equally effective for seasoned employees wanting to advance.  You’ll want to start out by identifying your top performers and having other team members observe them whenever and wherever possible. Those being shadowed also gain an opportunity to teach and train others, which is a critical leadership competency in and of itself. These top performers can also shadow those in leadership positions in the organization, and show their team members what their leaders do and how they can eventually learn what they need to become leaders themselves.

3.  Coach Them

In tandem with job shadowing, another simple and inexpensive way to bolster team member competencies is through the use of consistently regular coaching sessions. Coaching may not necessarily teach new skills, but it can provide critical feedback and assistance for improving current skills. Employees have the opportunity to repeatedly perform at peak ability, while offering more learning opportunities to expand their skill sets.

4.  Challenge Them

Increased responsibility is a boost for morale as well as for improving competencies. Offering your team members the opportunity to stretch themselves with additional challenges will give them something new to focus on, pushing them to utilize and sharpen current skills all while forging new ones. There are several possibilities such as assigning special projects, letting them conduct seminars and training, giving them the opportunity to lead teams, and giving them mentoring and coaching assignments.

5.  Gamifying

Everyone loves to play a game, so it’s no wonder that gamification is all the craze now. Get creative and see how you can turn your competencies management program into something that will help nurture a culture of friendly competition and camaraderie.  Team members can support one another in developing confidence in their ability to better their best.  It might be worth your time to work with an agency on developing this kind of program.


What are you doing to better develop your workforce’s competencies?  Talk to us!


  • Jonathan W. Crowell