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How can I use competency models to transfer skills/knowledge/institutional memory when people move up or out?

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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.  Even if the person being replaced is still at the company when their successor starts, unless they are a high performer who is able to easily articulate all their best practices, the new person will have to start at the basics.  Additionally, the knowledge drain that accompanies attrition can hurt you in unimaginable ways, especially if they are high performers.

How can competency models help?

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?

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 (how to apply it) required to execute their part of corporate strategy.  If you want to learn how to build a competency model easily in just weeks, watch this ATD webcast.

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 a list of informal activities and 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?

 You make that competency model actionable in a competency assessment tool.  And you also want to connect that 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 gaps. 

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

  • It gives people in that role the ability to compare their skills against “great” and identify what gaps they have, and be recommended formal, and most importantly informal activities, to help close them (individual skill development).

  • It gives people in that role the ability to see how they compare to changing skill requirements, (critical right now, with things like automation, digitization, and AI), identify gaps and close them (upskilling).

  • It gives people who are not yet in that role the ability to compare their skills and identify what gaps they have so they can prepare/close gaps in advance of being in that role (career planning).

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

What’s more, providing this kind of empowerment to your employee population will make it more likely that your high performers will stay.  According to Work Institute's 2017 Retention Report, career development was the number one reason employees stayed.  

Now you know how to use competency models to transfer knowledge/institutional memory when people move up or out.

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