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The Job is not extinct for most people. It just never really existed for a certain group of people. Some people are just getting around to realizing this long-term fact.

Some people's "jobs" are to do whatever is needing to move things forward. Others are to do essentially the same set of things on a regular basis.

just my opinion....

A company cannot afford to long pay for "competencies" as they no not necessarily translate into actual contributions and do not necessarily address the work that needs to be done. It is a given that you cannot measure performance based upon a job. Performance should be based upon meeting goals and objectives and doing so in compliance with Company Values.
Discussions about competencies have often accompanied discussions regarding hiring someone into a job for which the candidate was overly qualified, or a request to increase pay above the market rate for an employee with long tenure in a job.
The correct role of competencies is two fold, does an employee have the skills and abilities to contribute to the employer's needs as defined in the job and goals established? and is the employee capable of contributing in a role of greater responsibility and can therefore be considered in filling such job openings.
Abandoning the job and moving into competencies can conceal and justify discrimination as it is moving into a realm that is quite subjective. Attempting to objectify competencies will put you right back where you started with jobs.

Evolution and bifurcation, is my prediction. Not a dead end but a new branched road. Can't be sure if it will be a little-travelled dirt path or the future superhighway. Europe and much of the world has already moved that direction, leaving contract-like "jobs" with limited lists of duties and responsbilies in favor of a general label of skill level and context, like Senior Laborer or Sales Associate. You will note that both can be either a job or a skill-based competency classification label. Such overlapping is both possible and desirable, I think.

Unions and matrix organization practices are both relatively "new" and neither totally erased the prior systems they were designed to improve or displace. We still have unorganized enterprises and vertical pyramid management structures. Broadbanding (which has been around for about 50 years) has not extinguished traditional grade systems. As work gains complexity, new options are continually being developed and tested to determine where they better meet curent/future needs and where they are inappropriate.

Creating a new tool does not mean you have to abandon the old ones that still work.

Thought-provoking discussion, this one. It is good to think about what 'might be,' because things certainly are changing.

What Deb says is true--it's not good just to pay for competencies, because a person's competency may not be what is required for a specific task or project.

I like Dan's observation about two types of jobs...it rather defines the difference between what we think of as exempt and non-exempt work. The challenge will be to figure out how to differentiate within both these types of work and reward individuals appropriately. For example, we classify food service workers as non-exempt and it seems appropriate to pay them for the time they are actually 'at work' because the don't perform their designated duties when not at the workplace. This also ties in with Jim's note regarding Sales Associate and Senior Laborer.

But for knowledge workers who may develop an idea, process, or other product anywhere/anytime, how does the employer define (e.g. finance, marketing, operations), differentiate and reward that value to the organization?

Even our jobs as Comp folks are morphing and we need to figure out how to best meld fresh approaches with proven practice (okay, Jim's thoughts, but restated because I truly agree)!

What a great discussion, thanks to everyone who has weighed in so far (and hopefully, even more will be encouraged to add their perspectives). The insight I'm pulling out of the thoughts shared so far: Perhaps it's not so much about choosing jobs or not. Perhaps we need to think beyond this limited paradigm and approach each organizational situation with fresh eyes in order to decide, based on a clear and honest appraisal of the circumstances, how best to organize and structure work.

Thanks Dan, Deb, Jim and Shawn!

I work for one of companies studied by Schuster and Zingheim that have gone to the skill based pay approach. We have eliminated all job titles, show only faces on the organization chart, and prohibit job titles on business cards. For example, our CFO shows only his skill set: Strategic Financial Skills. We found it too hard to manage the business using jobs.


Interesting to hear from one of the companies studied - thanks for sharing your experience here!

Call it what you want, when you are on the payroll, you'd better be doing something that contributes to the organization's survival and success. For most people I suspect there is a need for some structure to hang their hats on in terms of "what do I do?" relative to "what do you do?" Once in any social structure, you have a role. It may be defined by a job description, your own preferences, what the boss wants, what your subordinates want, what your peers want and what your customers want. But it exists whether written or not. Without clear roles, organizations have duplication of effort (waste) and unfulfilled tasks (errors).

With the fluid nature of some forms of work involving continuously changing project assignments, formal job descriptions may be of marginal value. However, the need to have a clear understanding of your role, by whatever means, won't go away.

As for skill-based pay, I've worked in that field for years. It is tough to break mindsets about "pay grades" and many traditional comp practices when installing an SBP design. While you will reduce the number of job titles (often drastically), you must still define some core body of work in order to determine the competencies required to perform it. Only in small organizations, does everyone share completely overlapping skill sets. As size and technology increase, you are forced to differentiate responsbilities and end up with some de facto form of "job description." It is often much broader in scope and/or depth than the previous set of jobs codified in job descriptions.

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