The era of the individual

As we move towards a 'people first' approach to HR, it is timely to review the Career Framework to ensure that it gives a view to the options and career tracks available - to move laterally, horizontally and diagonally within the organisation - and that employees can proactively manage their own career in the era of the individual.


The reality of today

Employees want to better understand how to grow their careers. Mercer's research found that one-third of employees are stuck in a job, not a career; and most would stay longer if they had a career path.

What seems like unique individual talent, is usually a cluster of technical and core proficiencies that can be replicated. As we continue to grow, we need a way to translate the talent qualities of our best performers to replicable competencies that we can help other employees develop, or can help us identify similar talent to bring in from outside.

While structure and fluidity seem like two opposing concepts, they are stronger when they complement each other.











1,8000 companies


surveyed showed that most organisations struggle to get the 'pace' of movement right in their career frameworks



A competency framework underpins core HR programmes


  • Articulates a career philosophy that supports strategic goals
  • Aligns job families, competencies and accountabilities across the organisation
  • Defines critical experiences, knowledge and skills necessary for career progression
  • Identifies flexible career paths not only within functions but across the organisation
  • Empowers managers to support employees through effective conversations
  • Empowers employees to actively manage their career choices
  • Use the Competency Framework to anchor other HR processes
Competency framework


Case study: Developing organizational leadership capabilities



A large dealer of construction and mining equipment in India (ConstructionCo) had been greatly impacted by the economic downturn. ContructionCo’s CEO directed the top management to maintain a level of readiness to handle change and to foster growth, which in turn led the organization to think about consolidating its leadership capabilities



It was imperative that ConstructionCo develop its talent and build on its leadership potential to combat business challenges more effectively. The company culture had a strong emphasis on the individual; however, to become more resilient as an organization, it needed to develop a more collaborative culture with strong leaders.



Mercer was engaged to define and develop ConstructionCo’s leadership capabilities. After meeting with the client, Mercer decided on a phased approach starting with refining the existing leadership competency framework. The subsequent phases involved the design and administration of development centers, and a 360-degree assessment based on a leadership style framework. The strategy was further supported by a series of leadership development workshops.


Phase 1: Understanding and reviewing the leadership competency framework

Mercer analyzed the existing leadership competency framework at ConstructionCo and then set about refining the framework using our extensive solutions-based leadership experience while ensuring alignment with ConstructionCo’s vision and business strategy.
Leadership competencies were sorted into two categories:

  • Steady state competencies: skills that would enable the organization to sustain excellence at the current level
  • Growth competencies: skills that would enable the organization to reach the next frontier

Phase 2: Analysis and reporting of assessment results

Based on the leadership competency framework, Mercer identified and designed the assessment tools that best suited the organization’s business context. Two development centers were established, each with 15 employees and five Mercer consultants acting as assessors.
The results collected from the assessment instruments and the feedback gathered from the assessors were used to develop insights reports for each participant. These reports formed the basis for one-on-one feedback sessions.
The development center results were then further analyzed to identify development needs at the organization level.

  • Growth competencies required to take the company to higher levels of performance had a lower prevalence among the participants.
  • Steady state competencies, such as customer-centricity, and quality and process control, helped the organization continue at current levels of performance.
  • Results indicated that participants were prepared for their current roles, but would benefit from sustained development effort in order to move the organization ahead.

Phase 3: Determine leadership styles

The objective of the third phase was to determine the type of desired leadership styles that would drive the business in the future. Based on insights from senior management interviews and research on emotional intelligence, a leadership styles framework was then developed. From there, Mercer designed and administered a 360-feedback instrument to identify current and critical leadership styles of the participants. The results were then used to create development plans for further building individual leadership potential.
Gap analysis reports were generated, summarizing the differences in the current versus future leadership styles for the team as a whole. A collated, organization-wide assessment report was also developed for participants across different levels based on each of the desired styles.


Phase 4: Leadership workshops

The final phase involved conducting a series of three workshops covering topics such as emotional intelligence, performance management, managing teams, and so on. The workshops supported and consolidated development in the learning areas identified in previous phases.



Through this multi-phased project, ConstructionCo was able to appreciate the needs of its internal pipeline of leaders. The development center designed by Mercer helped the top management understand the strength of competencies within its team, as well as identify critical areas of development for the organization’s leadership. The 360-degree feedback exercise helped uncover leadership “blind spots” for the top management.
The organization also determined that it not only needed to focus on development but also importantly the infrastructure for grooming and managing talent more broadly. Given this, another step was taken to define the internal processes and practices required to more effectively manage talent. Armed with a better understanding of its current situation and desired direction, ConstructionCo was in a much stronger position to tackle future challenges.

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