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Change

The future of work is now, and we’re not ready!

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There is no doubt that we’ve reached an inflection point.  Anyone who attended the ATD 2018 conference had “skill gaps” burned into their heads.

Both keynotes President Obama and Tara Deakin (TD Bank) said that we are at the crossroads of an unprecedented change in required skills.  Artificial intelligence and automation are creating a new revolution. CEOs have finally recognized that talent skill gaps may render them unable to compete.  So, there’s never a better time to assess the skill gaps in your organization (know how big the problem is) and measure progress over time. 

Which is why it’s not surprising that I had over 500 people attend my 2 sessions on competency models.

In addition to posting answers to competency model questions, I thought I’d post a few quotes that were highlighted in the conference.

McKinsey & Company:

  • “Artificial intelligence is poised to disrupt the workplace.  For workers of the future, the ability to adapt their skills to the changing needs of the workplace will be critical.  Lifelong learning must become the norm – and at the moment, the reality falls far short of the necessity.” 
  • According to Bob Kegan, Harvard Research Professor in Adult Learning & Professional Development, “It used to be, “I got my skills in my 20s; I can hang on until 60.” It’s not going to be like that anymore.  We’re going to live in an era of people finding their skills irrelevant at age 45, 40, 35.” 
  • According to Maria Flynn of Jobs for the Future, “In a country with such imperfect career navigation and lifelong-learning systems, plus the growth of the gig economy, we could end up worse off if we don’t start to change now.”

Do you agree?

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How can you design a competency model to be open to frequent change?

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A competency model describes what someone in their role needs to be able to do to achieve their part of corporate strategy.  Often the “what” people have to be able to do in the job doesn’t change much, but the “how” people do it successfully does. 

In our competency model process, we identify the big buckets of things people need to be able to do, we unpack what they need to be able to do within them (the “what”), then we get to “how” they do it, and what separates good from great (see http://webcasts.td.org/webinar/2235).

Let’s use a product manager as an example.  Part of their job is identifying products to build/enhance.  That category or competency is the highest level.  It’s unlikely to change very often. 

Within that category, they need to be able to do various tasks or skills, such as identifying customer problems to solve, and then identifying products to create or enhance that solve those problems.  This might change more often than the category, but still not that often.

Now you get down to the “how” people do it at various levels of proficiency.  We call these task examples or behavioral examples.  It is required to show people how to get from good to great, and helps people objectively and consistently see where they are.  The “how”, and the target level of proficiency someone should have in their role to be able to achieve their part of corporate strategy, are the most likely components to change. 

We recommend that at least once a year, or after any major event such as a merger/acquisition, product or system launch, you bring together a group of 4-6 high performers to review the model and the details independently, submit feedback in advance which is aggregated for discussion, then come together for an hour session to discuss proposed changes.  Most likely, the behaviors and the target levels will change.  But it is this competency model design and this process that makes them easy to change over time.

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