A Manager's Perspective on Career Renewal


Career Renewal is the logical extension of the Certification Program. It is an individual-centered, self-development program focused on hard competencies, but it may also include some 'soft' competencies. Like certification, it was designed, as a program for the individual and so not tied to pay.




Competencies are "the skills and attributes a jobholder needs to perform effectively" (Jeremy Baugh, 1997).


Competencies can be hard or soft.

          Hard Competencies - standards people carrying out the job are expected to attain.

          Soft Competencies - personal behaviors and dimensions. (Charles Woodruff, 1991)


The use of competencies has developed from being a tool to "assist in identifying training needs to becoming a focus for targeted developmental activities" (Matthewman, 1996) Today in many business organizations, it is being used for much more.


Why Career Renewal?


We are in a change environment.


The library organization's environment is characterized by:

-          continued flat budgets or even cuts

-          increased competition

-          flattening organizational hierarchies

-          facing times of limited pay progression due to low inflation

-          less able to promise and deliver hierarchical career progression (less dollars for staffing, leaner budgets)


What does an organization want in this environment:


-          more flexible employees

-          employees with greater commitment and greater "by-in" on the part of employees

-          more flexible, tailored learning opportunities geared to the individual

-          broader motivational and developmental opportunities

-          to shift the burden of responsibility for training and development to individual ownership

-          to support a performance-based, learning culture

-          to use competencies to encourage implementation of change, continuous improvement, and quality of service

-          to encourage sideways career progression and role flexibility

-          to increase the relevance and cost-effectiveness of training

-          to raise the rate of efficiency of recruitment and selection process

-          more coaching, mentoring, open learning and sponsored education than formal off-site training courses

-          to change the role of CE trainers to that of provider and facilitator with greater in-house facilitation


What does the employee want in this environment:


The opportunity to make the best use of their potential through personal growth in skill and experience


To increase their employability in a less-than-secure work environment


Changes we might see:


-          Shift to self-assessment and involvement of colleagues in performance reviews replacing the top-down approach

-          Shift of ownership of development/training from management to individual employees

-          Shift away from formal courses to the greater use of projects and coaching techniques

-          Identification of the individuals' training needs shifting to the individual and the manager and away from personnel departments

-          Managers and individuals now have reference points that can be used to identify clearly job or role demands, individuals own skill levels, and organizational imperatives

-          Library organizations adding value-based competencies to reinforce the local culture

-          Competencies providing a built-in link to organizational objectives and values

-          If extended to all, competencies could provide a common approach to management of human resources

-          Methods of assessment could change - to being based on personal development plans (again shifts responsibility to the employee)

-          Pay could shift to reflect individual levels of performance and competency

-          Could tie pay or reward system to competency attainment in some form


General observations on organizations using competencies framework:

-          High correlation between competency frameworks and those operating in sectors demanding high levels of customer service

-          In regard to pay, business entities use a ranges based on competencies - use competency framework for both performance management and reward purposes or for reward only

-          The strategic value of competencies is that they help reinforce professional/organizational values and objectives


The Pay Connection


Pay policy is usually controlled by the sponsoring organization. Libraries typically are part of conservative, bureaucratic, large organizations and pay is tied to levels of responsibility/budget size and number of reporting positions. If linked to pay, libraries are more likely to use it for merit/reward pay and for selection (hiring and promotion).


However, growing numbers of organizations are tying competencies to pay in one form or another. Competencies are most likely to enhance pay plans, not replace them. (Note: Can only relate a competency to pay if it can be measured, e.g. using a rating scale.) Lots of difficulties in using "soft" competencies for reward. But pay systems do change. In the future we may be talking about contribution-based pay.


Competencies may be linked to compensation in one of two ways:


  1. Job focused process - uses competency categories to evaluate the job
  2. People-focused process that links pay levels and increases to level of competency attained by individuals


Pay policy depends on the organization, ranging from conservative/restrictive to flexible/innovative.





Baugh, Jeremy, "Rewarding Competencies in Flatter Organizations," Competency: the journal of performance through people, v. 4:3, Spring, 1997


Matthewman, Jim, "Trends and Developments in the use of Competency Frameworks," Competency: the journal of performance through people, v.4:1, Autumn, 1996, p.2-11


Woodruff, Charles, "Competent by Any Other Name,"  People management, September 1991.






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