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Skill Gap

How competency models can support a new system rollout

Change. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. These are the things that surround a new enterprise system rollout (e.g., ERP, CRM, HCM).  But what if you could help people in each role understand exactly what was expected of them, both during the rollout, and thereafter as processes change? That’s exactly what role-based competency models can do. 

If you don’t already have one task in your competency model dedicated to the new system, create one.  It could be as simple as “Demonstrate the ability to use the [XYZ] system.”  Then, it is the behavioral examples that differentiate the task from one role to another.  And the levels of proficiency identify exactly what functions people in that job need to be able to perform (with support, or independently).  This will provide you with an easy way to communicate the expectations. 

For example, let’s say you’re rolling out a new Customer Relationship Management system.

 

The task you add to a Sales Rep may be “Document accounts and opportunity pipeline activities sufficiently in the CRM system”.  The task you add for a Sales Manager/Director may be “Perform sales forecasting and manage the opportunity pipeline with our CRM system”.

And the Sales Director behaviors at each level of proficiency (low to high) might look like this:

1 – Locate opportunity details in the CRM

2 – Perform sales forecasting via a standard CRM report

3 – Effectively use a CRM dashboard for viewing and communicating the sales funnel

4 – Create a dashboard for easy access to opportunity intelligence

5 – Create a complex CRM dashboard to handle scenario planning/”what if” analyses

 

If you have your competency model in a competency assessment tool, have people assess themselves against it (and the newly added/revised task), to identify their baseline.  Be sure you have competency-based learning mapped to each role, so that as the gaps are identified, they will point to role-specific learning opportunities that provide each person with the ability to take action.  Your best strategy is to point to informal learning because (1) you probably have some mandatory formal learning already provided to everyone, and (2) the way to best develop proficiency is to support them WHILE they work… with workflow learning.  That means system-specific job aids/performance support tutorials, informal skill practices like step by step how to create a dashboard that they can follow and complete their work, and links to communities of practice and FAQs for rapid answers.

Periodically, maybe every couple of months, and as the resulting assessment data communicates the current level of proficiency, tweak the model to incorporate any process changes or your expectations for proficiency.  For example, in my role, the target proficiency may have been 2 at the start of the rollout, but 3 months later, the target is a 3.  Four months later, I’m expected to be a 4. 

Now you have an easy way to communicate expectations, by role, as well as provide the appropriate competency-based learning to support the changes.  And you will motivate each person to close their own skill gaps.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

Flip The Script On Uncertainty – Take Control!

One of the most difficult circumstances for an individual is uncertainty.  Over the past few years, I’ve had several customers working for companies being divested, merged, or acquiring another.  It’s stressful, it’s confusing, it’s frustrating, and most people in this environment, at all levels of the organization, feel helpless.  What most people do is NOTHING.  They wait.  They watch. 

Rather than being bootstrapped by organizational uncertainty, there is a different message that we as Talent and Learning professionals are in a unique position to convey that can flip the script. 

In uncertain times, the best thing to do is take control. What can we control?  Our own personal development.  What you want to promote is that they have the opportunity, right here and now, to develop their skills – whether that is in their current role or to prepare them for their next role, wherever that may be.  

Even if classroom opportunities are unavailable, there are usually tremendous resources including online learning, learning assets such as tools, templates, and job aids, as well as collaborative learning by working with mentors and managers.

Here’s the message and plan you can share:

  1. Inventory your skills for your current role or the role you want next. If you have access to a competency assessment, do it. Know your strengths and any skill gaps.

    • If your own organization doesn't offer one, and you're in HR, Talent, or Learning roles, use the ATD Skill Tracker. Other associations provide competency assessments for other roles, such as IRI (innovation leaders), NACHC (healthcare), NAIFA (insurance agents and financial advisors), OD Network (organization development professionals), and PEAK Grantmaking (grant writers/managers).

  2. Build a manageable plan to grow your strengths (be a mentor) and close any gaps. One activity each month. Just one. Document it and put it on your calendar, so you can hold yourself accountable and use it, should you need it, as part of your interviews.

  3. Work your plan by completing each activity and adding/scheduling one more for next month.

Not only does this plan best prepare you for whatever may come, but it puts control back in your hands.

Eric Hoffer says, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists,” a beautiful testament to life-long learning.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector

ATD Spotlight Member Brigitte Hyler Richerson on Competency Modeling and the SDLE

This is a reprint from the SEWI ATD Member Spotlight

Authored by ATD SEWI.

2017-07 Brigitte's spotlight.png

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Milwaukee native and I have 3 dogs, 2 daughters and 1 husband. The dogs are Mr. Coconut, Oreo and Butchy. My eldest daughter just graduated Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia and my youngest daughter will be entering 8th grade. I love Zumba and simply enjoying life. I like to spend as much time as I can with my family and very close friends. I have a natural thirst for learning and helping others be their best.

What is your hidden talent?
Being a consultant my hidden talent has to be the ability to make people comfortable and build trust. Another hidden talent, which sometimes works for me and other times it gets me in trouble, is being intuitive and strategic; being the person that’s always thinking ahead and looking down the road, rather than the person who is in the day-to-day. It can be a pro or con, but definitely a talent.

What attracted you to the field of Talent Development?
I was always the person, even at age 16 working at McDonald’s, who had the patience to train others, and also the one who could take complex information and make it easy to understand. Maybe because of that trust factor, people just liked learning from me. So I never went into it thinking I wanted to be in talent development. Originally I thought I was going to be an elementary classroom teacher. I’ve always had a passion for teaching, but then I found it was more at the adult level in a work setting, rather than pure academia, where I can help others succeed. I think as a consultant it’s my job to help everyone else look good. In the perfect world, I’m invisible - you don’t even know I’m there. I’m there to help my business partners and clients look great and reach their goals.

What is your favorite theory, tool, or process?
Right now, I’m in love with competency modeling. I developed this passion about a couple of years ago, when we were investing in new technology. I started to research working with business partners, trying to figure out where the skill deficits and skill gaps are, to make sure we are securing the best learning solutions. Technology training is extremely expensive, so you want to make sure you are getting the return on your investment. And that original concern has really turned into so much more now. We have been partnering with the company Skill Director, leveraging their tool, “The Self-directed Learning Engine”. Partnering with Skill Director allows me to take our learning strategies and build them around competency modeling. There are assessments for individuals, leaders, and peers. From these assessments they can see their skill gaps and create the right learning path to help them fill them. They have choices. They only take what they want to; they take what they need when they need it. I have seen positive results from it. I’ve actually seen the improvement. That has been what I’ve really been honing in on. What we are investing in and learning is supporting our overall corporate strategy.

How did you first learn about SEWI-ATD?
I’ve been a member since college as a student member at Alverno. It is one of those things I always stay close to. Even if I’m not necessarily engaged and going to meetings, I am still periodically checking out the website. I’m also a national member. In fact, I just bought a book, Learning for the Long Run. ATD is sort of the Holy Grail of learning and development. I’m impressed with how they stay current with how learning is changing. They do a very good job of looking at how the learning is reaching the various generations, how that looks, and learning more innovatively.

Just for fun, what are your top 3 most played songs on your iPod / iPhone?
Prince – “1999”, Bruno Mars – “24K Magic” and anything Zumba (I’m also a Zumba instructor)

Is there a question you wished you were asked during this interview?
If I could do it all over again and do something other than training, would I? And the answer is…No, I absolutely wouldn’t. I truly, truly love the space and love what I’m doing. It does take a while to get to a point in your career where you’re doing higher level work. It’s one of those jobs you gotta kiss a lot of frogs, but it’s so rewarding. It doesn’t feel like work for me, I absolutely love it. I think for anyone who really wants to get into this space, that’s the kind of passion you have to have.

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How do you create real buy-in for development from people managers?

Question: “Managers will often ask for training then become one of the road blocks to ensuring it happens and that training is followed up on. What advice do you have for creating an attitude of real buy-in from managers of people?”

There’s actually a great article from Tim Riesterer called “A skills deficiency of our own making” (http://ow.ly/HfAR306FitX) where he talks about managers becoming the road block.  “Faced with the contradictory pressures to drive the business or take time to hone their team’s skills, the majority of managers are opting to take a pass on the training, according to 56 percent of respondents.”

So you need to help them understand the impact. 

We have a customer toolkit just for managers to help them understand what’s in it for them – if employees are more proficient, then you’ll get greater results… but YOU must help them close those gaps.  They need both an education and tools to help them to change, quickly and easily.  Managers also need to understand that NOT developing people is a risk. If they aren’t given the opportunity to grow, they’ll go somewhere they can. 

Through active participation in their team’s competency assessment, managers will see exactly what gaps each person has.  This makes their job SO much easier.  No guesswork!  Plus, they can identify task-based mentors so team members can work together to build bench strength.  If a personalized learning plan for closing any gaps is automatically generated, it will be hard for a manager to say, “listen, I know you have gaps, and here’s a list of activities you can do to close them, but I’m not going to give you time to do that.”

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Why Competency Models Are The Secret Sauce For Closing Skill Gaps

It’s no secret that increasing skill gaps is one of the most daunting trends facing organizations today.  The latest PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of CEOs reported that 78% of them ranked skill shortages as the greatest threat to their companies.[i]

In a perfect world, CEOs wouldn’t have to worry about the skill gaps of their workforce – they would let the workforce own the closing of their gaps, even as those requirements change and become increasingly diverse.

If you’re looking for a strategy that will inspire employees toward increased mastery in their current role, you’re in luck!  People are already intrinsically motivated toward mastery, autonomy/self-direction, and purpose.[ii]   What you need is a road map for helping them get there.

Enter competency models. 

Competency models provide each person with a road map for how to be great.  To serve in this capacity, competency models must have these characteristics:

  • Be role-based, so they are relevant
  • Identify behavioral examples that show the various levels of proficiency separating someone who is adequate in that role from someone who is at the top end of the scale, so they can create a picture of what great looks like and demonstrate how to get there
  • Contain those tasks or skills that someone in that particular job role needs to do to achieve corporate strategy
  • Be reviewed at least annually for currency and relevance, and make it easy for those people in the role to continuously improve the model

Once you have models that do that, you need to make them:

  • Easily accessible so people can refer to them as often as needed as they grow in their role
  • Easy for people to measure themselves against, to help guide their development efforts

When embedded into a competency assessment tool, after self-assessment, a competency model provides each person with a baseline that tells them what skill gaps exist and what development activities are needed.   In that way, the model can intrinsically drive achievement motivation. 

Research shows that the more competent people become, the more engaged and satisfied they become and that leads to retention.  And when individuals own closing their skill gaps, the organization’s skill gaps will close.

Can you think of any more effective, low cost way to close skill gaps than inspiring and empowering each person to do it themselves?

[i] Skills gap is forcing CEOs to change how they hire people, PWC. June 4, 2015.

[ii] Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink, Daniel. Riverhead Hardcover. 2009.

Also at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/why-competency-models-secret-sauce-closing-skill-gaps-cheryl-lasse and https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/04/Use-Competency-Models-to-Close-Skill-Gaps-and-Drive-Retention

 

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