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Engagement, Leadership, Learning for now, Performance

Competencies we need to succeed in the future – a follow up

I asked for ideas on what competencies a future learning and performance professional will need to succeed in the next 5-10 years and led a session at the Learning Solutions Conference in March focused on Who Is the Next-gen Worker (and Are We Ready for Them?).  With the advances in social media, technology, and mobile applications I had a hunch these would be skills added to the mix however I was very wrong!

Before I let you know what your fellow readers and the session attendees added let’s make sure we are using the same framework.  A competency is the ability someone has to perform, or do, a job accurately and effectively.  Each job contains sets of defined behaviors that compose a type of process map guiding the individual to perform the tasks needed for success and to identify new skills and behaviors for future jobs.  “While there are many definitions of competency, most of them have two common elements:

Overall all emphasized performance skills technical as well as emotional.  Competencies noted were more than tasks an individual needed to perform they include the characteristics a person needs to demonstrate.  This emphasis supports “capability model” research that described performance as the capabilities that make effective performance possible.  The model has three components: Individual Attributes, Competencies, and Outcomes, which feed into each other (Northouse, 2004).

ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) has an updated model they are suggesting to define ASTD Competency Model 2013the skills and knowledge the learning professional needs to be successful.  “It captures changes driven by digital, mobile, and social technology; demographic shifts; globalization; and economic forces” and “emphasizes: (1) foundational competencies, or those that are important to everyone in the field, and (2) the specific areas of expertise (AOEs), which are the specialized knowledge and actions required by specific roles.”

The session I facilitated used the model as a base with its 10 Areas of Expertise for the training & learning professional, as well as 6 Foundational competencies.  Collectively it was agreed that the Foundational areas met the forecast need however three additional topics were added in the Areas of Expertise, noted in bold below.

Areas of Expertise

Performance   Improvement Instructional   Design Training Delivery
Learning   Technologies Evaluating   Learning Impact Managing Learning   Programs
Integrated Talent   Management Coaching Knowledge   Management
Change Management Digital Leadership
Professional Aptitude

Digital competencies focused on technical skill however the emphasis was more on its use.  Two key skills the group noted were:

  • Demonstrate curation skills ranging from collection to dissemination;
  • Communicate effectively using social media across multiple, and remote, work teams.

The conversation identified a need for employees that can create and nurture a culture of collaboration connecting people to solutions using whatever tool is available to reach a mobile and agile workforce andJarche's digital competencies model consumer base.  An additional emphasis was for employees who can help define metrics, who can measure the value and impact the learning solutions have and will analyze the data to identify trends to measure the effectiveness and efficiency the delivered solutions has on the business.  There was consensus that hiring leaders will look for people who understand they are “moving beyond the role of deliverer of training to a facilitator of learning, content curator, information manager, and builder of learning communities… designing and presenting learning not as a discrete event—a training course—but as a process that engages learners in a variety of ways over time through formal and informal channels.

The final core skill identified is leadership.  What made this interesting was how non-traditional this term was described by the participants, the idea generated was that everyone is a leader no matter the role, title, or skill.  While a great sidebar conversation sprang up from this thought centered on social media/learning impacting culture the core competencies focused on the individual being able to:

  • Assess a situation quickly and accurately
  • Implement employee involvement strategies
  • Coach and train peers & subordinates
  • Professional aptitude
  • Resilient
  • Adaptive to changes in business, technology, environment
  • Self-aware of surroundings, team and customer
  • Self-motivated to learn new techniques, technologies & styles to meet needs of project and organization

Sounds like a lot and I believe we will need to find levels where we can align expectations, capabilities, and continued growth that will benefit an organization for long term success.

If you are interested in the spreadsheet this project and session generated please feel free to drop me a line Smart Worker with LD definedand I will gladly share it and you can modify to meet your needs!  For now I leave you with a visual of the roles Jane Hart has for the “smart worker” today, I wonder how they will be leading, coaching, learning in 2018…..



About wjryan

Developing high performing people through strategic learning and performance solutions. Please visit www.williamjryan.com



  1. Pingback: Competencies and assessment strategies | Monday Morning Musings - August 25, 2013

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