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How to create a competency model that links individual needs to business goals

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I get asked this question, about how to create a competency model that links individual needs to business goals quite often.

Imagine you’re a CEO of a company who has decided the business goal is to develop a flying car.

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Everyone in the company would have an intermediary goal that if accomplished, would lead to the accomplishment of the business goal.  As the goals get translated lower and lower, they become more specialized, until they get to a specific person performing a specific role, for example, an R&D engineer.  To ensure that each R&D engineer can help the company, the company has to define what tasks and skills this person must be able to do really well.  And this is the competency model for this job. 

I like to use the description that a competency model describes what it looks like to be great in a role.

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.  What gets included in the competency model should change with strategy.  For the flying car, knowledge of aerodynamics and new propulsion systems may take precedence over other competencies previously in the model.

Now, an R&D engineer assessing their own skills may identify skill gaps relative to the current business goals, so their personalized learning plan focuses on development that helps them achieve their part of the business goal.

That is what the competency model does for you.The competency model identifies what someone in a role needs to do to accomplish organizational strategy.So, if you follow this approach, each individual’s self-directed learning will be perfectly aligned with organizational goals.

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