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How do we build a competency model without insulting our talent pool?

(Question posted by participant in Accelerating Learning Transfer webinar)

The answer is that you have to include members of the talent pool in the process of building the competency model.  In this way, it is their model – by them, for their peers.

We actually had this situation recently, where the leaders of a role where a competency model was going to be developed were really pushing back.  They felt like they already had a great job description, detailed procedures, and a rich qualification program that everyone grasped and bought into. 

After a little influencing, high performers were selected for inclusion in the Rapid JTA Workshop (the first step in our competency model development process).  And while you could see from some of the participants’ body language that there was some resistance, in less than an hour, the resistance was gone. Participants understood why this process was needed.  This continued through their engagement in refining the required behavioral examples of each task and skill.

The client partner who was leading this process summed it up best – while the technical and functional requirements of the job were known to an extent, they had never been documented to level of granularity.  The new competency model focused on what could be performed with the knowledge acquired, rather than the knowledge itself.  What’s more, while the roles were quite sophisticated technically, what separated good from great were the soft skills.  

In summary, by including high performers in the process of developing the competency model, and communicating how it was created during the process of making it actionable, you can ensure the talent pool is bought in.   You don’t build the model – they do.


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