Posts in Competency Models
How could I use a competency model? Let me count the ways!
Use a competency model to acquire skills/close skill gaps

Use a competency model to acquire skills/close skill gaps

I’m often asked, “How could I use competency models?  I think I need one, but what can I do with it?”  Let's explore all the ways competency models can impact your business.

There are 2 daunting trends plaguing organizations today:  increasing skill gaps, and lack of employee engagement, both of which lead to lack of retention.  Competency models have the ability to address all 3 issues.

Recruiting & Retention

Competency models enable better recruiting to take place.  With a competency model, a hiring manager can ask, “Give me an example of how you facilitate career development in your team.” And they can have a description of what that skill looks like at various levels of proficiency, along with what the required level of proficiency is for that skill.  The hiring manager, therefore, can identify what skill gaps exist among the candidates being interviewed, compare them, and determine the risk, training and duration required to close them.  Competency models help ensure that the best candidates are selected, and are most likely to stay.

Onboarding & Retention

Competency models provide the ability for a new hire to become familiar with the nuances of the job that will make them successful.  They identify what’s important in corporate culture, as they are reflected in desired behaviors.  When you enable people to self-assess against the competency model, they provide the ability for the new hire to know their baseline skill set, and what gaps they have to close to be successful.  When mapped to learning opportunities, competency models provide the ability for the new hire to own closing those gaps, so they can immediately begin their journey toward competency.  And the ability to do that makes them more engaged and more likely they will stay.

Closing Skill Gaps, Individual Skill Development & Retention

Competency models provide each person with a road map for how to be great.  They communicate what someone in a particular job role needs to do to achieve corporate strategy.  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.  That is, competency models enable autonomy/self-direction, mastery, and purpose.[i]  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.

Career Planning & Retention

Just like competency models enable people to self-assess against the skill requirements for their current job, they also enable people to assess their skills against the role or roles they might want next, so they can start closing skill gaps for that next role.  The inability to own development and career development is cited as one of the primary reasons people leave an organization.  So competency models enable people to own their career development, which leads to retention.

Coaching & Retention

Competency models, when used in conjunction with a competency assessment tool, enable managers to be more effective coaches, regardless of coaching experience, because they eliminate coaching guesswork.  It makes every 1:1 conversation more productive, so a manager can leverage strengths, take action to close skill gaps, discuss perceptual differences, and help people prepare for their next roles. 

The quality of one’s manager, and their ability to have great conversations and develop them is one of the reasons people stay in a job and remain engaged.  And conversely, when a manager can’t do this well, it’s why they leave. When you give a manager a roadmap to do this well, you drive skill gap closure, engagement and retention.

Mentoring & Retention

If you enable people to assess themselves against competency models, you can uncover pockets of skill-based strengths across the organization.  How does that help?  Well, imagine if instead of having 10 people who can serve as mentors, you identify that almost every person has at least one skill in which they excel.  If you have the ability to identify these people, and pair them temporarily with others who have skill gaps in those same areas, then you can literally apply mentors at scale across the organization.   For people who serve as both mentors and mentees, the process is highly engaging, increasing the likelihood that each will stay in the organization.

Communicating Culture

There are 2 places where we can weave culture into competency models:  the description of the task or skill, and the behavioral examples.  You must use language and examples that demonstrate what is important in your organization.  And you next need to make those models accessible.  People must be able to assess their skills against them, so they become self-aware of any gaps in both skill and behavior.  And they must re-assess their skills quarterly, as part of a routine, so they can continue to refine their behaviors against the skills and behaviors that are important to the organization, and changes can be easily operationalized.

Developing a Learning & Development Action Plan

When people assess their skills against a competency model, you get real needs analysis.  And that tells you what learning opportunities should be developed and/or delivered.  (You can develop competency based learning.) So budgets, schedules and development plans can be based upon fact, and you eliminate waste that typically exists using traditional methods of interviewing leaders and history.

Summary

Competency models have the opportunity to be used throughout the organization and throughout the employee lifecycle to close skill gaps, increase employee engagement and increase retention.  Discover how they might be able to work for you!

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

Also at: https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2015/12/How-Can-My-Company-Use-Competency-Models? and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-could-i-use-competency-model-let-me-count-ways-cheryl-lasse?trk=mp-author-card 

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
STOP! How to capture knowledge from employees before they leave
Walk out the door.jpg

At this point it’s clear.  Those people in your organizations, the ones you go to for all your questions about how to get things done, they’re starting to retire.  And while you try to get them to train those who will take their place, you know most of that information will disappear forever.  You’ve known it was coming, but a solution just hasn’t been easy.

Additionally, if you don’t do a good job retaining high performers in your organization, that knowledge drain will hurt you in unimaginable ways.

What if it turns out that there is one solution to both problems?

Let’s start with the basic question – how do we capture what the best people, and those who know how to get things done, know and do?  And then, once we know what that is, how can we share it with those who need to know?

1) Create a role-based competency model

The answer is simple.  You use your high performers, and those with valuable expertise, to create a competency model.  Very simply, a competency model describes what it looks like to be great in each role.  It defines the skills and the knowledge required to execute their part of corporate strategy.

If you want to learn how perform competency modeling easily in just weeks, watch this ATD webinar and use these materials.

In this way, you capture all the critical nuances of what people do to be successful.  This may include with whom they build relationships, what process steps they take, and what tools they’ve created to ensure repeatable success. 

Now you know what they know and do to get things done.  And you probably have informal resources you’ve collected during the process that can serve as competency-based learning for others.  How do you share it with those who need to know?

2) Make your competency model actionable

You make that competency model actionable in a competency assessment tool/skills assessment system. 

  • This gives everyone in that role the ability to see what great looks like, via a competency assessment, from their first day in the job (onboarding).

  • It gives people in that role the ability to compare their skills to “good” and “great” and identify what gaps they have (individual skill development), driving intrinsic motivation to change.

  • It gives people who are not yet in that role the ability to compare their skills and identify what gaps they have (career planning).

  • It gives hiring managers the ability to fine tune who they hire (recruiting).

 

3) Leverage intrinsic motivation to change

You also want to connect each competency model to competency-based learning and automate that connection.  In this way, you can provide personalized learning to empower people to close their own skill gaps.

What’s more, providing that kind of employee empowerment will make it more likely that your high performers will stay.  They will know how to close their skill gaps, and how they can prepare for other roles in the organization that may suit them. They get recognition for contributing to the professional development of other employees.

Summary

If you want to capture knowledge from employees before they leave, either because they have tremendous experience or are high performers:

  1. Use them to build a competency model

  2. Make that competency model actionable in a competency assessment tool/skills assessment system

  3. Leverage personalized learning to empower people to close their own gaps and drive their retention

That way, each employee knows how to become a high performer… for the job they have or the job they want.  They have a detailed plan they believe will get them there.  They are in control.  They will want to stay. 

Also found on the ATD site and on LinkedIn

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How To Ease The Pain Of Communicating Culture

Changing corporate culture isn’t easy.  Whether the result of a merger or acquisition, or simply the result of an internal transformation, the most difficult part is showing each person how the change in culture directly impacts them.  Even when culture isn’t changing, communicating culture to new hires is tough.  That’s where competency models can help.

When a competency model is developed properly, it contains the categories or competencies of things that people need to be able to do within a role to be successful.  By successful, we mean to accomplish their part of corporate strategy.  (For more on that, see my blog on the value of a competency model.)  The model contains the tasks and skills required to demonstrate competence in each category.  It contains the behavioral examples of what a skill looks like at various levels of proficiency, and the proficiency level needed for that job.

There are 2 places where we can weave culture into competency models:  the description of the task or skill, and the behavioral examples.

Let’s look at an example.  What message does it send if you were to see a skill, “Create a partnership with the customer so they feel I work for them”?  Are you internally focused or externally focused?  When someone in the role sees that skill in their model, they learn that customer-focus is extremely important.  Likewise, “Identify opportunities for process improvement and optimization” communicates that you should always be looking at continuous improvement.  

And this approach continues into the behavioral examples.  Let’s say you are creating examples of behaviors at various levels of proficiency, and you are trying to instill a culture of learning.  For the skill “Use appropriate sources to develop industry expertise and insight”, you might have:

  1. Occasionally read industry related publications, web sites, blogs, and new to maintain industry awareness

  2. Read industry related publications, web sites, blogs, and news quarterly to maintain industry awareness

  3. Dedicate at least an hour each week to reading and exploring industry information to stay up to speed

  4. Receive daily news alerts from key sources including industry and customer sources and social media, but allocate 2-3 hours a week for learning

  5. Recognize that the more I know about my customer’s business, the more I can help them – so I review customer news daily or as it happens and allot at least 30 minutes a day for learnin

Just creating a competency model alone will not communicate or change your culture.  You next need to make those models accessible.  People must be able to assess their skills against them, so they become self-aware of any gaps in both skill and behavior.  And they must re-assess their skills at least quarterly, as part of a routine, so they can continue to refine their behaviors against the skills and behaviors that are important to the organization, and changes can be easily operationalized.

If you want to ensure that the organization embraces your corporate culture, or you’re trying to change the existing culture, consider embracing competency models.

 

Also at:  https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/01/Communicating-Culture and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-ease-pain-communicating-culture-so-its-like-pulling-cheryl-lasse

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Why Competency Models Will Make You Question Your Perception Of Mentoring

Supporting mentoring programs is hard.  One of the biggest problems faced by those trying to run them is that by the time you find people who are good in a lot of things who are willing to be mentors, and you train them, they often move into new roles.  Or, there are so few of them, there simply aren’t enough mentoring hours to go around.

Enter competency models.  If you enable people to assess themselves against competency models, you can uncover pockets of skill-based strengths across the organization.  How does that help?  Well, imagine if instead of having 10 people who can serve as mentors, you identify that almost every person has at least one skill in which they excel.  If you have the ability to identify these people, and pair them temporarily with others who have skill gaps in those same areas, then you can literally apply mentors at scale across the organization. 

Consider the impact of applying mentors in this manner across the organization.

  • If I’m a high performer with few skill gaps, I have the opportunity to improve my level of proficiency by mentoring others, so I can continue to grow. And I can try to create new tools, templates and processes to help others consistently apply my techniques.

  • If I’m an average performer with only a few expert skills, someone who would not be tapped for a traditional mentoring program, I have the opportunity to experience the impact of mentoring others. And this may increase my drive for higher levels of proficiency in other areas, while at the same time, building my internal network.

  • If I have a skill gap in some area which cannot be well served by a formal learning opportunity, or at least not quickly, I can work with a task-based mentor on a project intimately related to my role, so I can quickly learn, apply, and practice in a safe and relevant environment.

  • The entire organization builds its bench strength as a team, working together to pull each other up with little to no cost. All the while, the process is creating stronger internal personal connections within and across departments and regions.

  • As each person gets tapped for “something” they are really good at, they become increasingly engaged as they see their value and purpose grow within the organization. In fact, being assigned as a task-based mentor becomes both recognition and a reward.

Successfully implementing task-based mentoring

  • To implement task-based mentors, you need to have a competency model for those roles, and each person must self-assess against it.

  • The competency assessment tool should make it easy for managers to identify their direct report’s individual skill gaps and locate potential task-based mentors (across the organization) so they can be temporarily paired.

  • Both the mentor and the mentee should understand the scope of the relationship – to help increase one particular skill.

  • Time should be set aside for the two to work together on shadowing and practicing the specific behaviors that demonstrate the required proficiency for that skill, which comes directly from the competency model.

  • The mentee should reassess on that skill following the opportunity to practice, in order to demonstrate a change in skill… which becomes a positive reflection on both the mentor and mentee.

  • The mentee’s manager should assess them, to confirm the target proficiency was indeed achieved.

If you want to leverage the expertise you know exists within your organization, and engage each person to apply their strengths, take a look at how competency models can help.

Also at: https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/02/Using-Competency-Models-for-Mentoring and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-competency-models-make-you-question-your-perception-cheryl-lasse

 

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Why Competency Models Can Keep The FUD Factor In Coaching From Eating You Alive

Imagine you are a successful individual contributor who has just been promoted into your first management role.   You have 8 direct reports that you’ve worked with in the past, but do you really “know” them?  All eyes are on you as you have to begin showing your coaching capabilities… something you’ve never had to do before.  Where do you begin? 

If you have competency models for the roles of your team, and a competency assessment tool, your fear, uncertainty and doubt (“the FUD factor”) are over.  You can use the skills in the model, and the skills assessment data (yours and your direct reports) to have a data driven conversation about specific areas where they are strong, and where they need help. 

Your conversation can go something like this:

You see a perceptual difference – some skill where they think they are strong and you think they are lower. 

You:  “I see that you appear to have a real strength in this area, and I’m not familiar with it.  Can you give me some examples where you have performed these behaviors?”  (While looking at behavioral examples)

You both agree on a particular area of strength they have.

You:  “You’re really strong at this skill.  There are several people on our team/in the region that could really use assistance improving here.  How do you feel about being assigned as a task-based mentor to one of those people from time to time?”

You both agree on some skill gaps they have.

You:  It looks like there are 4 skill gaps.  Which 1 or 2 do you think most affect your success in your role?  Let’s take a look at what learning opportunities are available to close them.  What do you prefer?  Would you like to work with a mentor on this activity?  Let’s look at the behavioral examples, to see what types of projects might be useful for skill building.

Now, in every subsequent 1:1 conversation, you’ve got great talking points.  

  • What activities did you complete?

  • What did you learn from them?

  • How can I help you to apply these new skills?

  • What experiences can I provide for practice or to complement the activity?

  • How can we celebrate your achievement?

  • What will best help you prepare for your next role?

The quality of one’s manager, and their ability to have great conversations and develop them is one of the reasons people stay in a job and remain engaged.  And conversely, when a manager can’t do this well, it’s why they leave. When you give a manager a roadmap to do this well, you drive skill gap closure, engagement and retention.

If you want to improve the capabilities of your managers, and help them maximize the daily impact on their direct reports, don’t let fear, uncertainty and doubt get in the way.  Embrace competency models and make them actionable so they can be used daily.

Also at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-competency-models-can-keep-fud-factor-coaching-from-cheryl-lasse and https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/06/How-to-Use-Competency-Models-for-Coaching

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Why Career Planning Without Competency Models Is Just Scary!

The story is often the same.  An employee is told that if they are interested in other job opportunities, they should look at the company’s career maps, a pre-defined path for typical progression that usually shows what it looks like if you want to move up within a particular function.  But is that realistic today? With many choosing to retire later, and the scarcity of available positions, moving up may not be an option.  And with an increased awareness and desire for work/life balance, people are often more interested in expanding their breadth than in moving up to management. 

The other alternatives including “talking to HR”, which could be difficult due to the scale of the organization or comfort level of the individual, or “talking with your manager”, which could be difficult if the manager isn’t good at conducting career discussions, doesn’t understand the skill requirements of roles outside their function, or doesn’t want to lose a good employee.

According to Career Systems International, career growth and learning and development are among the top engagement and retention factors for employees today.[i] Organizations want to be able to help people achieve their potential, and use that as a value proposition for recruiting, but supporting the promise may fall short.

An easy solution is competency models.  Because competency models identify the role-specific skill requirements and behavioral examples of those skills, they have the ability to empower each employee to own their own career planning.  This eliminates the HR or manager tollgates.

Once you have the competency models developed, enable people to self-assess against the skill requirements for the role or roles they might want next, so they can evaluate whether or not they want that role, and if so, what skill development they should pursue to prepare themselves.  In this way, they can explore in a safe environment, and then be able to take skill development requests to their manager, once they know what they want to pursue. 

Ask yourself, “Do we want to be able to attract and retain our people?”  And if the answer is yes, put the scary loss of retention behind you.  Explore how competency models and a competency assessment tool used for career planning can provide employees with a reason to stay, your managers with the ability and confidence to support data-driven career conversations, and HR with the ability to manage career planning at scale.  

 

[i] Tan, Wendy and Crowell, Beverly.  Organizations and Managers Must Reassess How They View Career Development.  TD Magazine:  9/8/2015.  https://www.td.org/Publications/Magazines/TD/TD-Archive/2015/09/Orgs-and-Managers-Must-Reassess-How-They-View-Career-Dev

Also at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/why-career-planning-without-competency-models-just-scary-cheryl-lasse and https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/02/How-to-Use-Competency-Models-for-Career-Planning

 

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
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

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
WARNING: You’re Losing Money By Not Using Competency Models For Onboarding

Imagine you are walking into a new job on your first day.  You’ve interviewed, you’ve talked to people, and you think that you’re ready.  But typically, unless the person you are replacing is still at the company and they are a high performer who is able to easily articulate all their best practices, the actual expectation of the required skills and behaviors for the new job are merely guesswork.

So you do what all new hires do.  You ask people, you fumble a little, you learn as you go, and over time, you hopefully hit your stride.

But what if you don’t?

According to a recent article in TD Magazine[i]:

  • 31% of people have quit a job within the first six months

  • 22% of turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment

  • The cost of losing an employee in the first year is estimated to be at least three times their salary

What if you, as the new hire, had a way of reviewing all those expectations and best practices early on, so you could eliminate the fear, uncertainty and doubt that leads to the statistics above?  That’s what competency models bring to onboarding.  

  • They provide the ability for a new hire to become familiar with the nuances of the job that will make them successful.

  • They provide the ability for a new hire to identify what’s important in corporate culture, as those things are reflected in the desired behaviors.

  • When you enable people to self-assess against the competency model, they provide the ability for the new hire to know their baseline skill set, and what gaps they have to close to be successful.

  • When your competency assessment tool maps skill gaps to learning opportunities, competency models provide the ability for the new hire to own closing those gaps, so they can immediately begin their journey toward competency.

  • And they provide the ability for a new hire to see what specific behaviors they should exhibit in various situations, to increase their proficiency and become a high performer.

People are intrinsically motivated toward competence.  When they can’t achieve it, they become stressed, frustrated, and begin looking elsewhere for opportunities to be successful.  And that leads to attrition.

If you want to retain new hires, help them achieve their potential, and avoid losing the substantial investment you make in them, embrace competency models and put them to use during the onboarding process.

 

[i] “Trends and Tides In Talent Development”.  TD Magazine.  Galagan, Pat.  October 2015.

https://www.td.org/Publications/Magazines/TD/TD-Archive/2015/10/Trends-and-Tides-in-Talent-Development

Also at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/warning-youre-losing-money-using-competency-models-onboarding-lasse

and at https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/03/How-to-Use-Competency-Models-for-Onboarding-Blog

 

 

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Why recruiting without competency models is INSANE (but true)

Many recruiters and hiring managers bemoan the state of job descriptions.  The writing of job descriptions often falls to HR Managers and Business Partners who are not provided with the required level of depth for hiring good people.

According to a recent article in TD Magazine[i]:

  • 31% of people have quit a job within the first six months

  • 22% of turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment

  • The cost of losing an employee in the first year is estimated to be at least three times their salary

Competency models enable better recruiting to take place.  They inform job descriptions, which will still contain pre-requisites and experience guidelines, and can be used for initial resume culling.  But once you get into the interviewing stage of recruiting, competency models create better conversations.

As an example, without a competency model, a hiring manager may ask, “Give me an example of why you think you have the skills for this job?”

With a competency model, a hiring manager can ask, “Give me an example of how you facilitate career development in your team.” And they can have a description of what that skill looks like at various levels of proficiency, along with what the required level of proficiency is for that skill.

The hiring manager, therefore, can identify what skill gaps exist among the candidates being interviewed, compare them, and determine the risk, training and duration required to close them.  They can be on the lookout for specific phrasing and advanced behaviors that demonstrates they are, or can become high performers.  Without having a competency model, much of this takes place based on instinct and without structure, and tough questions about real skills and experience may go unanswered.  This is why the statistics above are occurring. 

Insanity is recruiting without structure and without a plan and expecting great results.

If you want to hire the right people who have the potential to be successful contributors to your organization, and who seek to remain with you, don’t be insane!  Incorporate competency models into your recruiting process.

[i] “Trends and Tides In Talent Development”.  TD Magazine.  Galagan, Pat.  October 2015. https://www.td.org/Publications/Magazines/TD/TD-Archive/2015/10/Trends-and-Tides-in-Talent-Development

Also at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/why-recruiting-without-competency-models-insane-true-cheryl-lasse

and https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2016/04/How-to-Use-Competency-Models-for-Recruiting

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
What is a Competency?

When talking about competency models, I’m often asked the same series of questions: “What is a competency? How do I explain it to others?”  

Defining Competency 

An easy definition of competency is that it is something you need to be able to do well in a specific job role.

The term "competence" came into vogue following R.W. White’s 1959 Psychological Review article, “Motivation Reconsidered: The Concept of Competence.” White explains that because people are intrinsically motivated to achieve competence, having competency models enables organizations to tap into our own desire to achieve proficiency.

 

Lasse_CompetencyModel1.png

In order to demonstrate competence, workers must be able to perform certain tasks or skills with a required level of proficiency.  A competency is broken down into specific skills or tasks.

 

Next, each skill or task can be described in terms of what it looks like—specific behaviors at different levels of proficiency.  To achieve competence in a particular job, a person should be able to perform various tasks or skills at a target proficiency level.

 

 

Sample task examples/behavioral examples of a task at a target level of proficiency

Sample task examples/behavioral examples of a task at a target level of proficiency

A competency model encompasses all the competencies, tasks and skills, behavioral examples, and proficiency requirements for a particular job. It focuses on factors the organization has marked “critical” to achieving the corporate strategy.  

While all of this seems obvious to Talent Development and L&D professionals, it is often difficult to explain to those outside of our field. In other words, when I ask a group of salespeople or supply chain managers about the required competencies for their roles, I typically get a bunch of blank stares. 


A Different Approach: Categories 

Let’s consider a different way to describe “competency.”  I ask people to describe the “categories” of things that employees need to be able to do. Suddenly, the intangible seems tangible, and everyone can articulate what they need to do. 

For example, if you ask a sales person about the categories of things they do, they will probably say account management, opportunity management, and administrative tasks. Or, if you ask a supply chain manager to outline their categories of tasks or behaviors, they will probably say supply chain management, people management, and coordination with other functions. 

Once you have these categories, you can have a conversation with high performers, asking them: “Tell me everything you do in your job that is related to people management.” This is where you can start to nail down the requisite skills for that role to succeed.  

If one of those skills is related to career development, you can ask, “If you must facilitate career development discussions, what do you think it should look like? How often do you do it? How do you integrate it into your processes?” This is where you begin extracting best practices, which are simply examples of how to demonstrate proficiency in a particular skill. 


Putting Competencies to Work for You 

If you want to dialogue with leaders or line employees about competencies or generate support for building competency models in your organization, use language that everyone understands. Ask people about the “categories” or big buckets of things they need to do in their job. I believe you’ll find that you can generate a lot more support for your competency initiatives. You can use the table below to help you get started. 

For more insight, check out my archived ATD webcast, "Develop an Actionable Competency Model in Weeks!"

 

Also at: https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2015/11/What-Is-a-Competency

 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
What is the value of a competency model?

Consider a CEO starting a new company. The CEO has a long-term vision (three to five years) of what goals to accomplish. There also is a COO who identifies how to accomplish these goals, one year at a time. The COO must translate this plan to determine which employees must perform what tasks in order to achieve each goal.

By way of an example, if this were a company that was going to make a flying car, the CEO’s long-term goals might be 1) to establish a flying car as a viable transportation vehicle, 2) achieve sales of 100,000 units in three years, and 3) drive the price down from an introductory early adopter price, to an end purchase price of $50,000. The COO would need to hire:

  • an R&D department to develop it

  • a manufacturing department to build it

  • a distribution department to get the cars to market

  • a sales and marketing department to sell it

  • a service department to service the cars once on the market.

Everyone would have an intermediary goal that, if accomplished, would lead to the achievement of the company goals—and the long-term strategy.

As the organizational leaders drill deeper, the skills become more specialized, until they get to a specific person performing a specific role such as an R&D engineer. To ensure that each R&D engineer can help the company, it has to define what skills this role must be able to do really well. This is the competency model for this job.

Value of a Competency Model

A competency model defines what separates “good” from “great.” Not everything a person does in a role should be part of the competency model. For example, any engineer must be able to perform engineering design functions, but a great engineer can work with other R&D engineers to troubleshoot design issues before they reach manufacturing.

In essence, the value of a competency model is that it identifies what skills each person in the company must be able to do to be “great.” If everyone performs at the “great” level, then company strategy is achieved, and a company is likely to have a competitive advantage.

Companies have always needed to create competitive advantage. So, a competency model has always had value. Here’s what is different today:

  • The pace of change has accelerated—and with it, the skills required to be successful continue to change.

  • To survive today, companies must continuously innovate, which only increases the changing skills required.

  • People stay in the same job for less time and, therefore, people need to be able to become “great” without as much experience as they had in the past.

  • New workers entering the workforce want to be able to make an impact more quickly; they want to know how to be “great” right away and are motivated to get there.

If you don’t know what skills are required to be “great” (that is, you don’t have a competency model for each job), how can you innovate, keep up with a changing global environment, maximize your human capital, and motivate employees to stay?

What’s more, competency models drive intrinsic motivation to succeed. Research shows that the desire for competence makes people want to own their development. You need only show them what it looks like to be competent in their role… and that’s a granular, actionable competency model.

Why Creating Competency Models Rapidly Is So Important

Let’s say you now believe that you need competency models for your jobs. Why is "rapid development" so important? Why not create competency models the way they have always been done, with interviews and questionnaires and lots of analysis?

If it takes six months to create a competency model, by the time you’re done, it’s out of date. The pace of change means we need to take a different approach—an agile approach. It’s time to take a page from a philosophy such as The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

So how can you do that? Here’s a process that works for us.

Start with a four-hour workshop with high performers, during which you gather all the requisite information including how they learned to do what is most important for success in their roles, as well as what tools support them today. Next, massage that information and redistribute it quickly to participants for validation. Then, you use what they provided to get to the next level of detail. Finally, you validate that with participants. Now you’ve got your model.

If you’re interested in learning about how to build your own competency models rapidly, including making it actionable and driving innovation at your organization, join us for the webinar “Develop an Actionable Competency Model in Weeks” Thursday, November 5 at noon EDT.

Also on: https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Career-Development-Blog/2015/10/What-Is-the-Value-of-a-Competency-Model

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector