(OK, actually 2 words, but you get my point)
I had a meeting with someone yesterday who told me that in their company, the phrase “competency model” is not to be spoken. That’s not actually that unusual. In many parts of the world, such as the UK and Australia, “capability model” is the more common term. But let’s go back to why it’s taboo to use it.
- “It’s full of gobbly gook”
- “We spend all this time working on it, and don’t do anything with it”
- “No one can understand it”
If that’s been historically true in your organization, then it’s easy to see why they may consider “competency model” a dirty word.
Here’s how to fix it.
- First, stop using the dirty word. If it already has a bad connotation, don’t try to change perception… just call it something else, such as “capability model” or “capability framework”.
- Second, fix the problem with what’s in it. It should not be full of big corporate words that don’t really say anything. It should be in the language of the person using it. If you create or customize one, use that role’s high performers in those sessions. If you use a standard model, work with some high performers to “put it in their language” so that it is easy to consume. Both in the capabilities/skills/tasks and the behavioral examples. So a sales competency model would read like someone in Sales would speak, and a retail competency model would read like someone in Retail would speak.
- Third, make it actionable. If you create a song and dance around a “capability 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, it’s worthless. A capability model on a web page, PowerPoint, PDF or poster will never be used and will quickly reinforce the current perception.