© 2015 SkillDirector | Privacy Policy
824 Main Street, Windermere, FL, 34786
News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

Competency-based Learning

What is the difference between a competency model, skills matrix and competency-based learning?

A competency model is a list of all the skills that someone in a particular role needs to do at a target level in order to be successful in that role.  And success means that they are achieving their part of corporate strategy – what the organization needs them to do, very specifically.  Some people call a competency model as a “capability framework” or “skills rubric”.

A skills matrix or skills inventory is the output of a competency assessment, where people assess themselves against the competency model.  So 100 field services technicians assess their skills in their role, and a skills matrix or inventory results – you know who meets or exceeds the requirements for specific skills.  And you can then leverage that information to put the right people on the right projects, and form the best and most successful teams.   

The competency assessment will also identify who does not meet the requirements for specific skills – that is, it identifies skill gaps.  It is extremely common for each person, no matter how tenured or how experienced, to have one or more skill gaps in their role. You want to be able to provide each person with a personalized learning plan to help them close their gap.  This requires that you identify which learning activities can close which skill gaps… that’s competency-based learning.

Essentially, you are mapping the behaviors of the target level of proficiency to the learning objectives of the activities.  And in many cases, you create a skill practice, job aid, or checklist that will help someone be able to learn the right skills while they are doing their work.  We call this embedded or workflow learning (the “70” in the 70-20-10 model).  It’s effective because it’s not separate from the work that needs to be done.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

How do you communicate the link between a competency model and employee development (competency-based learning)?

shutterstock_152008088 small.jpg

To communicate the link between a competency model and development, you need to first communicate what a competency model is and does. 

A competency model defines what each person in their role needs to be able to do, specifically, in order to perform their part of corporate strategy.  It also defines what it looks like to be great in that role. 

It seems almost too natural and too obvious that once you know what people need to be able to do, if they can’t do what they need to be able to do (a skill gap), you need to have a way of teaching them.  This is employee development… and when directly mapped to the competency model, it’s competency-based learning.

For example, if one task in a competency model is “Engage the appropriate company and customer resources (systems, people, processes) to get things done better and faster”, then you want to have an activity, for example a skill practice for workflow learning, where they learn to build a project action plan that engages the required internal and external resources.

If you can talk someone through this connection at a high level, and provide them with an example, then you should be to communicate the link (and the need) between a competency model, a skill gap, and competency-based learning.

For more on how to develop competency-based learning, watch this webinar:  http://webcasts.td.org/webinar/1791

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

The Holy Grail: Using competency models to establish learning program impact

The Holy Grail 01.jpg

It’s long been the holy grail in learning to be able to measure its impact.  There are many variables that impact business results and the process often seems daunting.

What if you could break it down into components that would make this easier?  What would that look like?

First, you’d need to know what skills someone needs to be able to perform to be successful.  A competency model describes what each person in their role needs to be able to do, specifically, in order to perform their part of corporate strategy.  So let’s say you have a competency model.

Next, you need a baseline.  This is where employees in a role assess themselves against the competency model the first time. 

To each person, a competency model paints a picture for what it looks like to be great in their role, and provides a roadmap to get there. As a result, it drives intrinsic motivation to mastery, so long as that model is actionable.  That means that each person must be able to easily access and assess themselves against their own model, and be provided with targeted recommendations for action. 

Therefore, the results of the assessment need to drive people to competency-based learning.  Once someone knows they have a gap, they are motivated to close it.  When they are presented with learning options that are specifically targeted to closing that gap, you are creating the best environment for learning transfer and impact to take place.  Each person will embrace the learning opportunity, because they believe it is relevant to them, their role, and their needs.  Sounds like adult learning theory, right?

Once they participate in these development opportunities (which they buy into, because they selected them based on gaps they themselves identified), they will re-assess against the competency model.  In a perfect world, this is quarterly, so that they are always thinking about their own development.

When you look at the assessment data over time, and you correlate that data with business metrics, you can measure improvement in both skills and results over time.  What’s more, you’ll know which skills are drivers of business results.  That is, if skills improve, but results do not, you may want to alter your competency model to focus on other skills that are more important to success.

This blueprint for measuring learning program impact may sound simplistic, but simplicity is what we as learning professionals need.  This will make it easy to both justify the business value of what we do, and also identify what changes we should make to our programs that aren’t producing the results we expect.

Learn how 3 different organizations, including ATD, applied this blueprint to learning programs and the resulting learning impact they established.  Join us in San Diego at ATD ICE on Sunday, May 6, at 11:45am EDT for the session called “7 Steps to Measure the Impact of Learning With a Competency Model”. 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

4 Steps to increase usage of a capability/competency model

1)      Make it consumable.  By that I mean, do you have to read it, then re-read it to know what it means?  Or is it easy to read and in the language of the people using it so they can know what great looks like?  Often, we see a model that’s too academic.  It should read as people in the role speak.  It should state clearly what someone should be able to do.  When high performers are involved in building it, this happens naturally.  If not, this is when you need to bring them in for revisions.

2)      Right size it.  The most successful capability models have between 15 – 30 tasks. A capability model should describe what “great” looks like in the role – it’s not a complete task analysis of everything they do.  If your model includes tasks that are not critical to success in that role, eliminate them.

3)      Make it actionable.  That means getting the model off the PowerPoint, out of the spreadsheets and into people’s hands.  A competency model that isn’t easily accessible by those during the development process, and isn’t assessable such that one can measure their capabilities against it to identify and close gaps with competency-based learning is pretty worthless.  One of my customers calls this “operationalizing the blueprint”.

4)      Communicate the WIIFM!  Ensure learners and their managers understand what’s in it for them.  We provide our customers with toolkits containing messaging for change management.  They span getting started with the model, driving a culture of learning and continuous development, tips for maximum use, recognition messages, and competition drivers between teams.  Managers need to understand that NOT developing people is a risk. If people aren’t given the opportunity to grow, they’ll go somewhere they can.  So give your audience tools and templates that make it easy for them to learn a new routine. 

Follow these steps and you’ll increase both the usage and value of your capability model.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

What do you recommend about developing and using competency models in an association/non-profit/membership organization?

We've seen accelerated activity among associations over the last few years.

A competency model describes what it looks like to be great in your role. Part of the value proposition of industry associations is to help people get to “great”.  In addition to having in depth knowledge about what people need to be able to do in that industry now, associations also have significant insight about how the industry is changing and the skills that will be required in the future.  This puts associations in the perfect position to develop competency models.

In addition to having unique insight, associations typically provide development resources, which enable members to close identified gaps with competency-based learning.  Having a competency model enables the association to better organize and direct members to the best resources and make their competency model actionable.

When building a competency model for an association, because members span different companies with different job titles, you need to describe job roles more generally.  For example, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) has different tracks, such as Learning Management or Instructional Design.  Other associations, like the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) use years of experience in the role to delineate between different models and target levels of proficiency. So it’s important to identify how many different roles you need to support, and if they need multiple models or only one model with different target levels of proficiency.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

You don't know TRACK!

What’s that you say?  You don’t know TRACKs?

The Career Navigator, now known as Skill Tracker, has been an ATD staple for many years.  Not familiar with it?  It’s a tool designed to enable you to assess your skills for the Talent Development role you have now, or for the one you want next.  Simply put, Skill Tracker makes the ATD Competency Model actionable for you personally. 

The reason for the name change was simple:  Skill Tracker is designed to help you track your skills… and grow them.

Originally, the Career Navigator included 3 broad roles (Specialist, Manager and Executive) to enable you to assess your skills across the breadth of the talent development field.  With the evolution to Skill Tracker, ATD created five specialized tracks to allow you to assess your skills against a more focused set of competencies.  The new tracks include:

  • Instructional Designer
  • Training Specialist
  • Learning Manager
  • HR/OD Professional
  • Performance Consultant

The Advanced Practitioner track still allows you to assess your readiness across all areas of expertise.

Each of these TRACKs enables you to self-assess on a very focused set of skills.  Behavioral examples make it easy for you to assess consistently and accurately – this is just for you.

Once you’ve finished your assessment, you can see your skill gaps and strengths.  Most importantly, for each of your gaps, you’ll be presented with a personalized learning plan of targeted ATD learning opportunities to help you close them.  Now you know exactly what you can do to improve your proficiency in your current role.

But don’t stop there!  Hold yourself accountable for your own professional development.  Select which activity or activities you want to pursue first and add them to your Development Plan.  Add other activities across the 70-20-10 spectrum, including those offered by your organization, or others in the public domain.  Then work your plan and re-assess to see what gaps remain – your own continuous improvement process.  Skills are currency – and ATD is helping you get them.  The creation and execution of your Development Plan is actually the most important part.

You can also leverage TRACKs to prepare for your next role.  Use Career Planning to pick the TRACK or TRACKs you might want to pursue next, get a personalized learning plan for that TRACK, and add those activities to your Development Plan.  Now you’ve got a great story to tell if you’re interviewing for that job.

Over time, your Development Plan will be your professional development learning snapshot.  And you’ll have more skills… and more professional currency.

If you want to learn more about Skill Tracker, come to the ATD ICE session on Tuesday, May 23 at 10 am in the Career Center.

But don’t wait!  Check out new ATD Skill Tracker (td.org/skilltracker) because now, you know TRACKs!

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

3 Traits That Will Make You A Learning & Development Rock Star In 2020… START NOW!

A friend asked me to visualize the learning organization in 3 years and what their Learning & Development (L&D) department should do to get ready.  As I thought about the answer, I realized there are 3 traits that will make you and your department a Rock Star in 2020.

Be Customer-Focused/Learner-Focused

The learning department will be 100% customer-focused and the “customers” are the employees (not the departments).

  • Each person will get exactly (and only) what they need and want.  There will no longer be role-based “learning plans”.  There will only be a personalized learning plan – 1-size-fits-one.
  • End users will own their learning and hold themselves accountable – the learning organization will exist to make this possible.
  • Learning will not tell customers what to do – the customer will tell Learning what they need.  All pull, no push.
  • To support this customer-focused approach, the learning organization will have an agile, customer-focused mindset – rather than creating content that may be quickly obsolete. L&D will be highly responsive and can pivot quickly. (More on “Agility” shortly.)

This customer-focused approach can only exist when L&D can provide customers with the organization’s expectations for their role in terms of, “how do I do the job?”  The expectations are the tasks they must perform, the behaviors that make the tasks executable, and the required levels of proficiency.  That’s a competency model.

Be Curious

 The Learning organization will get curious and start to explore the industry of the company they are in and the audience they serve – not because they have a course to create, but rather to be intimately familiar with customer (learner) needs, maybe even before the customer knows the need exists. 

This will facilitate responsiveness and customer-focus… all in the context of what L&D knows their customers need to be able to do (the competency model).  Competency models help L&D know how to serve their customers.  They will become aware of what materials exist or need to be created for competency-based learning.  They can pivot quickly to meet changing needs.

Embrace Diversity

The Learning organization will provide materials that reflect true customer needs: ~70% will be activity-based, there will be support for the ~20% collaborative, and ~10% will be formal.

  • Learning will identify activities and experiences, along with tools, templates, checklists, and the like to support learning on the job; in fact, when a new need is identified, an L&D Rock Star will first ask, “What activity could this person perform to learn this skill?”
  • Learning will provide technology that supports identification of task-based mentors; everyone in the organization is likely to be both a mentor and a mentee on a regular basis – it will simply become a part of the organizational culture.
  • Learning may still create content, but more will be microlearning – short content that can be easily consumed in bite size pieces.  The course as we know it today may still exist, but be used sparsely, mostly for large complex topics or for those who are new to the industry/field/equipment.

Part of embracing diversity is recognizing that you don’t have to own everything your audience needs.  As an L&D Rock Star, you can become Master Of The Universe.  L&D Rock Stars will think of themselves as brokers – curating the best content and resources (tools, templates, job aids, ideas for activities), internally and externally.  When a need arises because of a change in the environment, (see “Agility” above) the Learning team will be so responsive that they can provide some resources within days to meet the new need.  Maybe it’s as simple as a link to a YouTube video, industry article, and blog post.

So if you want to be a Learning & Development Rock Star in 2020, start now.

  • Identify what people need to be able to do (provide a competency model)
  • Let them identify and own what they can and can’t do
  • Let them be accountable for closing their own gaps, achieving aspirational goals, and preparing for the next step in their career
  • Use that information, and deep awareness of their competency models, to provide competency-based learning with flexible options that reflect the way people learn (70-20-10) and make sure it’s easily consumable (microlearning)
  • Make it fast and easy by providing one click access to everything they need, recognizing that you can better serve the audience by becoming the Master Of The Universe, linking to options throughout the learning ecosystem, rather than creating it all
News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

How do you link a skills matrix to competency models to learning activities?

(Question posted by participants in recent webinars)

I’ve listed this question verbatim the way it was asked, because I want to make some distinctions.  A competency model should be a list of all the skills that someone in a particular role needs to do at a target level in order to be successful in that role.  And success means that they are achieving their part of corporate strategy – what the organization needs them to do, very specifically. 

We typically think of a skills matrix as being the output of a competency assessment.  So 100 field services technicians assess their skills in their role, and a skills inventory results – you know who meets or exceeds the requirements for specific skills.  And you can then leverage that information to put the right people on the right projects, and form the best and most successful teams. 

The competency assessment will also identify who does not meet the requirements for specific skills – that is, it identifies skill gaps.  It is extremely common for each person, no matter how tenured or how experienced, to have one or more skill gaps in their role. You want to be able to provide each person with a personalized learning plan to help them close their gap.  This requires that you identify which learning opportunities can close which skill gaps.

Essentially, you are mapping the behaviors of the target level of proficiency to the learning objectives of the activities.  And in many cases, you create a skill practice, job aid, or checklist that will help someone be able to learn the right skills while they are doing their work.  We call this embedded or workflow learning (the “70” in the 70-20-10 model).  It’s effective because it’s not separate from the work that needs to be done.

For more details, read the post:  3 steps for organizations who want to create competency-based learning:  https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8467576/8467576-6108588915516596225 and

watch the archived ATD Webinar on the process at: http://webcasts.td.org/webinar/1791.

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

GASP! I just created learning that doesn’t transfer and they can’t get up!

If you create learning that doesn’t transfer, then you too will keep your target audience from “getting up” in skills and business results.

In a Deloitte study[1], less than 25% of Line Managers believed their Learning & Development (L&D) departments were critical to achieving their business goals. That is not surprising given related findings on learner disengagement. It is cause and effect.

If the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job and their needs, they will be disengaged in any learning.

--> If the employee is disengaged in the learning process, then L&D efforts are mitigated – any learning opportunities will have minimal effect.

--> If minimal effect occurs, then skill levels do not improve.

--> If skill levels do not improve, then business results do not improve.

--> If employees participate in training programs, and positive business results do not follow, then Line Managers are likely to lose faith in the ability of L&D to contribute.

Why does this happen?  It’s a likely scenario when you don’t know what skills people need.  If you don’t know what skills they need, how can you possibly help them develop the right skills?  How can you create content that is relevant to their job?

Even if you know what skills they need, but you don’t actually know where skill gaps exist and have no supporting data, then how can you measure whether skill levels and business results improve?  That is, how can you measure that the programs you’re providing are closing skill gaps and driving results?

The solution

First, you create a competency model for each role, which defines the skills required to execute their part of corporate strategy.  In other words, the competency model is the connection between skills and strategy.  A competency model describes what it looks like to be great in that role.

Next, you create competency-based learning to increase the likelihood that each person CAN accomplish their goals.  This is where the learning objectives of activities are tied to the specific skills and behaviors in the competency model. 

Creating competency-based learning ensures the content is relevant to their job.  But remember that if the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job AND relevant to their needs, they will be disengaged.  We’ve solved the first problem, now we have to solve the second.

In order to make content relevant to each person’s needs, you need to enable them to self-assess against the competency model and identify their specific skill gaps.  And you need to automate the identification of content relevant to their needs, known as personalized learning. 

If you create competency-based learning and enabling personalized learning, you will drive learner engagement and accelerate learning transfer.  And if your competency model is any good, then it will impact skills and business results.

What’s more, the aggregated skills data combined with business results over time will let you measure the impact of learning.

If you ensure that you only create content that supports the competency model for a role, you will never again create learning that doesn’t transfer.  If you use a competency assessment tool that personalizes learning for each person, you will maximize learner engagement, accelerate learning transfer, and you WILL be able to measure the positive impact on skills and business results.

[1] Bersin by Deloitte. (2015).  Reimagining L&D Capabilities to Drive Continuous Learning.

 

 

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

How Accelerating Learning Transfer Will Make You More Popular

You probably have a lot of friends in your organization. People who respect you and invite you to participate in their programs.  The question is not whether you are popular in your department, but rather whether you’re invited to discussions with leadership.  Accelerating learning transfer can get you invited to the strategy table.  Here’s why.

Competency models identify what the organization needs people in a particular role to do in order for the organization to succeed and create competitive advantage.  That’s important to leadership.  Competency models intrinsically motivate people to achievement. In essence, they provide each person with a road map for how to be great.  Competency models define what is relevant.  That’s important to your target audience.

If the competency models define the required skills, then you need to make sure you have, or create, competency-based learning such that the required skills can be acquired, and business results follow. 

Competency-based learning ensures you have no learning opportunity gaps.  It provides the greatest opportunity to incorporate the “70” (on-the-job activities, skill practices, job aids, etc.) into the 70-20-10 model (see recent article in TD Magazine).

That’s why performing needs analysis without a competency model is so flawed.  How can you possibly know what your audience needs if you don’t know what skills they should have?

If you’re creating content without a competency model (and it’s not competency-based), there’s a good chance that:

  • You’re wasting a lot of your time and effort
  • You’re wasting the time of the people participating in those activities
  • You’re not closing skill gaps that are relevant to your target audience
  • You’re not moving the needle on changing the behaviors that your target audience needs to do their job
  • You’re probably not impacting results
  • And therefore, leadership won’t invite you to the strategy table because they don’t see the value of your effort

Want to fix that?  Want to be invited to leadership discussions because they know you can help them close skill gaps and achieve their goals?

Check out the webinar “How to Accelerate Learning Transfer Through Competency-Based Learning”, February 4, 2016 at 1pm Eastern time.

 

Also at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-accelerating-learning-transfer-make-you-more-popular-cheryl-lasse and https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/01/How-Accelerating-Learning-Transfer-Will-Make-You-More-Popular

 

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

Why You May Be Responsible For The Disconnect Between Learning & Strategy… And How To Fix It

They say that perception is reality.  What if perception is that your learning department is perceived to have minimal impact on corporate strategy?  According to a recent Deloitte Study, only 14% of the L&D leaders believe business leaders view them as strategic partners.  If that’s the case, who do you think they blame for that perceived reality? You might think it’s not your fault, but is it?

Do you use interview or surveys as your primary form of needs assessment?

Do you use history to determine your class schedule?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you may be contributing to the disconnect between learning and strategy.

When you ask people for their opinion or perception about what training may be needed next year, you’re probably only getting part of the picture, the things each person can think of…the symptoms.

When you use history for needs analysis to create your class schedule, you’re making the assumption that the people who were in those classes were the right people, and that an equal number of people will have the same need, in the same location, next year.

How does any of that connect to corporate strategy?

 

Corporate Strategy

The CEO’s job is to come up with the big picture strategy of what the organization should accomplish in the long-term.  The Chief Operating Officer’s job is to identify how the organization will accomplish these goals, one year at a time.  The COO works with the rest of the organization to determine what each part needs to accomplish to ensure the annual goals are met.  So corporate strategy gets translated from the top so that each person, in each department, has a role they will play to execute it. 

Learning

The role of Talent, Learning & Development is to ensure that people in the organization have the skills to be able to execute their role.  The competency model is the translation of the skills requirements.   

Just as the COO wouldn’t “wing it” without a plan, L&D shouldn’t “wing it” either.  The competency model for each role is the plan, and then you create competency-based learning to increase the likelihood that each person CAN accomplish their goals.  If you don’t know what skills they need, how can you possibly train on the right skills?!

That’s why performing needs analysis without a competency model is so flawed.  How can you possibly know what your audience needs if you don’t know what skills they should have? 

Next, you must map each skill for each role to the learning opportunities you have or need to have, to ensure you have competency-based learning.  This ensures that every learning opportunity you create or maintain has some value as it relates to corporate strategy.  Any learning opportunity that isn’t mapped is waste.  It’s just that simple.

Now, imagine if each person assesses their skills against the competency model for their role.  And each of those skills is mapped to competency-based learning.  The aggregated demand for each learning opportunity would be calculated for you instantly.  

  • No more guessing what to build or buy, or what to offer when and where; you would know exactly who needs what. 
  • Budgets, schedules and your development plans can be based upon fact.
  • You have justification to say “no” when someone asks for content to be developed that you know is not required.

And as the skill requirements change, they drive new competency-based learning.

Just as you may be responsible for the disconnect between learning and strategy, you can also be responsible for bringing them together.  Embrace competency models and competency-based learning and you can change both the perception and the reality that your learning department delivers maximum value to the organization.

 

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector