So – you’re considering a promotion for an existing employee. Or maybe it’s a lateral move to another department to gain cross-functional experience. Whatever the scenario, your goal is to provide an employee with all of the tools that they need to do well in this new role. It might help to know ahead of time what aspects they’re going to excel at and where they might need additional support. Developing job benchmarks for potential new positions is like checking the weather at your destination so you know whether to pack a raincoat or not: it’s always better to be prepared.
Identifying Strengths & Gaps
Many companies use job benchmarking to determine whether new candidates may be a good fit for a role. But what about internal candidates? Spoiler alert: it works the same way. You can see how employees’ natural disposition aligns with the job they’re being considered for.
The most common move we see is from an individual contributor to a manager. For some people, this is a natural progression. They have a desire to lead and focus on the big picture. For others, directing a team is extremely stressful. In the first case, we would consider that a strength, the second would be a gap.
Another common move we see is from support to sales. Generally, there’s a certain level of competitiveness and persistence that’s required to succeed in a selling position. However, those characteristics are not always necessary on the support side. If you’re considering helping an employee make that transition, there may be some important gaps to address. Alternatively, they might naturally have those characteristics and be a strong fit. This is the type of insight you’ll get if you compare employees to job profile benchmarks.
Okay, so we understand that there are gaps, but the employee still wants to make the move. What do we do? By comparing employees against a job profile, it’s easier to determine where an employee might struggle in their new role – which means it’s easier to create an effective support plan.
Pro Tip: Employee development leads to potential internal promotion. Here are the pros & cons of promoting from within.
Determine what types of activities will help them become more comfortable with the behaviours that they don’t naturally demonstrate. Set goals that encourage them to practice those behaviours and have regular 1:1 check-ins to review progress. For example, if they’re working towards a managerial role, their goal might be to take the lead on 3 new initiatives that involve delegation of tasks. If they’re moving from support to sales, their goal might be to influence 5 customers to upgrade to a premium support package (where it makes sense for the customer, of course).
Practicing these skills will help to prepare them for the demands of their new role, which might seem obvious at first. But it's harder to see where those skill gaps might be if there's no reference point. That's where your job benchmarking comes in. By understanding where the employee wants to go, and having a job profile set up as a benchmark for what's needed in that role, it becomes far easier to understand what's specifically needed for your employee to make that transition.
What if there are no strength alignments and only gaps? Sometimes people think they want to pursue a particular career, but it may not be a good fit for them. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to explain to them the challenges that they’ll face and provide other options. If you have multiple positions benchmarked, you can easily compare them to those roles to see what they would be better suited for. You can then continue to encourage development in a way that will allow the employee to succeed.
New case study available: discover how the University of San Diego used job benchmarking as a career guidance tool for over 300 students
Not every employee is going to follow the career path that they plan for themselves, and not every employee is going to follow the career path that their organization may have in mind. But by setting job benchmarks for certain roles within your organization, you’ll have the insight needed to help employees succeed in an area that best suits their natural strengths. Because it’s always best to pack that raincoat.