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Great Organizations | Great Leaders

Competencies for the Next Generation

DDI research shows competencies change in importance over time.
Competencies for the Next Generation

By examining job performance data, we can conclude that the Millennial Generation (those born between 1982 and 2000) in the workforce appears to stack up well to Generation X (born 1965-1981) when it comes to perceptions of overall job performance according to their supervisors.  Furthermore, with respect to common leadership competencies, these generations seem to have more similarities than differences.  But are those competencies the ones the next generation will need?

Looking back at our competency trend data over the last three decades, we sought to examine which competencies have been viewed as most important over time.  After all, many businesses adjust their strategies in response to economic conditions and other factors.  These shifting strategies should impact the skills required of their leaders.

The following chart shows the 10 competencies most frequently identified as being critical for frontline leaders during times of both economic boom and bust, respectively.

10 competencies most frequently identified as being critical for frontline leaders
10 competencies most frequently identified as being critical for frontline leaders

From these data, we can see how the requirements of a job shift over time and which competencies are viewed as more or less important as shifts in the economy impact the business. 

While some competencies remain important (such as Decision Making and Communication), the blue- and red-highlighted competencies highlight those of unique importance to either periods of economic booms or economic downturns.  For example, Work Standards, Building a Successful Team, and Customer Focus are viewed as important during economic boom periods, but fall out of the top 10 during economic downturns. 

Job Profiles: A Moving Target

Review of data such as these reinforce the importance of keeping your talent initiatives and strategies aligned with the ever changing business strategies your organization is taking in response to economic and other conditions.  While there are many factors that could contribute to the ascendancy or fall of a frontline leader competency’s perceived importance, our evaluation shows that competencies—and the job profiles compiled of competencies—aren’t constant.   They need to be re-examined periodically, especially in the wake of economic changes or strategic shifts, to make sure they are still current and accurate. 

Mac Tefft is a senior consultant in DDI’s selection solutions group.

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