Posts tagged Competency Assessment Tool
Flip The Script On Uncertainty – Take Control!

One of the most difficult circumstances for an individual is uncertainty.  Over the past few years, I’ve had several customers working for companies being divested, merged, or acquiring another.  It’s stressful, it’s confusing, it’s frustrating, and most people in this environment, at all levels of the organization, feel helpless.  What most people do is NOTHING.  They wait.  They watch. 

Rather than being bootstrapped by organizational uncertainty, there is a different message that we as Talent and Learning professionals are in a unique position to convey that can flip the script. 

In uncertain times, the best thing to do is take control. What can we control?  Our own personal development.  What you want to promote is that they have the opportunity, right here and now, to develop their skills – whether that is in their current role or to prepare them for their next role, wherever that may be.  

Even if classroom opportunities are unavailable, there are usually tremendous resources including online learning, learning assets such as tools, templates, and job aids, as well as collaborative learning by working with mentors and managers.

Here’s the message and plan you can share:

  1. Inventory your skills for your current role or the role you want next. If you have access to a competency assessment, do it. Know your strengths and any skill gaps.

    • If your own organization doesn't offer one, and you're in HR, Talent, or Learning roles, use the ATD Skill Tracker. Other associations provide competency assessments for other roles, such as IRI (innovation leaders), NACHC (healthcare), NAIFA (insurance agents and financial advisors), OD Network (organization development professionals), and PEAK Grantmaking (grant writers/managers).

  2. Build a manageable plan to grow your strengths (be a mentor) and close any gaps. One activity each month. Just one. Document it and put it on your calendar, so you can hold yourself accountable and use it, should you need it, as part of your interviews.

  3. Work your plan by completing each activity and adding/scheduling one more for next month.

Not only does this plan best prepare you for whatever may come, but it puts control back in your hands.

Eric Hoffer says, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists,” a beautiful testament to life-long learning.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How can we keep the number of tasks to assess in our competency assessment manageable?

Once you’ve built your model, you may discover there are simply too many tasks for a reasonable assessment.  E.g. if you’ve identified more than 40 tasks, the assessment will simply take too long, and you’ll lose the intrinsic motivation you’re trying to create.  There is no hard or fast rule, 20 – 25 tasks is the max.

Think about it logically.  If it takes about 1 - 1.5 minutes to review behavioral examples and select a value (in a meaningful and thoughtful way), and you have 50 competencies, that’s 50-75 minutes.  Can you say “survey fatigue”?  On the other hand, if you select the 20-25 most critical, it should take ~30 minutes… a much more realistic request.  Plus, who can focus on that many skills and potential gaps?! 

During the model development process, we recommend the high performers identify which tasks are most critical to success to narrow the list.  But there’s also the aspect of strategic workforce planning – identifying skills the organization believes will differentiate it in the future… for example, some technology that will drive competitive advantage.  You want to be sure to call out that technology separately, so you can easily identify organizational experts.  Or you know that many people with a particular expertise are retiring, and you need to know which experts remain, so you can leverage them to create new experts (“nexperts”).  So a hybrid approach is best.

Then you iterate.  Launch the competency assessment, but remember, it’s always in beta.  Your competency models are not fixed in stone.  You put it out there, you get feedback, you get data, and you continue to iterate it to capture changes in strategy, in tools, in technology, and in the environment in which you operate, so you can always focus on the critical tasks and skills for that point in time.  It may be that your assessment includes 20 now, and next year, you remove 8 and add 10 new ones.

For more on creating a competency model quickly, see the free ATD webinar.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
What is the difference between a competency model, skills matrix and competency-based learning?

A competency model is a list of all the skills that someone in a particular role needs to do at a target level in order to be successful in that role.  And success means that they are achieving their part of corporate strategy – what the organization needs them to do, very specifically.  Some people call a competency model as a “capability framework” or “skills rubric”.

A skills matrix or skills inventory is the output of a competency assessment, where people assess themselves against the competency model.  So 100 field services technicians assess their skills in their role, and a skills matrix or inventory results – you know who meets or exceeds the requirements for specific skills.  And you can then leverage that information to put the right people on the right projects, and form the best and most successful teams.   

The competency assessment will also identify who does not meet the requirements for specific skills – that is, it identifies skill gaps.  It is extremely common for each person, no matter how tenured or how experienced, to have one or more skill gaps in their role. You want to be able to provide each person with a personalized learning plan to help them close their gap.  This requires that you identify which learning activities can close which skill gaps… that’s competency-based learning.

Essentially, you are mapping the behaviors of the target level of proficiency to the learning objectives of the activities.  And in many cases, you create a skill practice, job aid, or checklist that will help someone be able to learn the right skills while they are doing their work.  We call this embedded or workflow learning (the “70” in the 70-20-10 model).  It’s effective because it’s not separate from the work that needs to be done.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
3 Steps To Workforce Agility

Workforce agility refers to an organization’s ability to move people to support changes in the environment.  I think of it like supply and demand.  Workforce agility enables you can easily move people from one place, where demand is low to another place where demand is high.

For example, let’s look at how automation can impact your workforce needs.

  • If automation is being applied in some area, such that the people need is lower, I need to be able to move people who used to do that work to a place where they have the right skills and demand is higher

  • If automation is being applied in some area, such that the skills associated with that work change, I need to be able to upskill people to do the new work, or move people with the right skills to that area

I like to use an analogy of a sports team.  Every team has different positions people need to play regardless of the sport.  Usually, you try to have some “depth”, people who can play the position when the top player gets tired or hurt.  Other times, you don’t have sufficient depth, you need someone with different skills (shooting, blocking, running, passing) and you bring people up from the practice squad, trade, or draft these players.  Just like a company is always tweaking its corporate strategy, a sports team is finding a strategy that will help it win against the competition.  A run-first offense may become a pass-first offense and need different skills.

Not everyone can be a quarterback, pitcher, goalkeeper, or point guard.  But they can build transferable skills that give them the ability to be shifted to where they are needed most.  And they can be upskilled to play their new role.

Workforce agility does not need to be a permanent condition.  It can be a temporary one driven by predictable (e.g., seasonal) or unpredictable changes in demand.  One of our customers often has a project that will take several weeks or months that requires additional resources – they simply need to know who can participate. 

If you now believe you need workforce agility, let’s get to the 3 steps to create it.

  1. Identify what each position/role needs to be able to do. That’s a role-based competency model, that includes what people NOW need to do in that role.

  2. Identify who has what skills. That’s a competency assessment. This is NOT so you can see who gets promoted… this is about workforce agility.

  3. Leverage technology to enable:

·  People to upskill within their existing role

·  You to explore who has sufficient skills to be moved temporarily or permanently, depending on the need.  We use a dashboard that lets you see who has fewer than 2 skill gaps for this other role, with sufficiently overlapping skills.

Lastly, make sure that you make workforce agility a benefit. 

  • Be transparent.

    • Share changing skill requirements for a role.

    • Share supply and demand trends.

  • Encourage people to develop skills for their own role, as well as roles in high demand so they can be used when needed. Inspire them and empower them to assess their skills against current and other roles and be provided with a personalized learning plan to close any skill gaps.

  • Offer, rather than demand, a move: “Would you like to work on this project for 2 months as a way to build experience outside your area?” or “Demand in this area is going down, but we could really use someone with your skills in this other department.” Promote these transfers as a reward.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
TD Magazine: Know the Gap
Copyright ATD

Copyright ATD

Check out the new issue of @ATD's TD Magazine.

Read how to use competency models and assessments to know what skill gaps exist by Cheryl Lasse.  Learn how to get started, why it works, and do's and don'ts of skills assessments.

Or download the podcast.


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
What’s the difference between a low performer and a good performer who is simply not in the right role?

How do you interpret the difference between a low performer and someone who is simply not in the right spot for them.  How many of you have seen a good person in the wrong role?

Imagine if that person, or the organization, could use competency models to identify what skills people have and where they do best fit?  So instead of losing potentially really good people, you simply move them to where their skills and the competencies required best align. 

This is the power of competency models and a competency assessment (because you have to have the honest skills data).  If you know what people have to do to be great in their roles, and you know what skills people have, then you can perform that alignment seamlessly as those openings become available.  Think about how many good people could be saved, the amount of turnover savings you could achieve, and how much more engagement would grow naturally when people are in the right role.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How would you assess compliance with a competency model?

(Question posted by participants in recent webinars)

You assess compliance by providing behavioral examples that help people to identify lack of compliance or lack of knowledge and be motivated to do something about it.  It’s not that different than assessing someone’s product knowledge.

Let’s take personal protective equipment as an example.  If I assess myself against a skill such as “Use personal protective equipment whenever required for my personal safety”, and I see a list of situations in the behavioral examples, I’d be able to select which set of examples best describes my use of PPE.  Not only would I potentially see what I’m not doing (that I should be doing), but I should become intrinsically motivated to close compliance gaps. 

woman with safety goggles 1.jpg
News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
You don't know TRACK!

What’s that you say?  You don’t know TRACKs?

The Career Navigator, now known as Skill Tracker, has been an ATD staple for many years.  Not familiar with it?  It’s a tool designed to enable you to assess your skills for the Talent Development role you have now, or for the one you want next.  Simply put, Skill Tracker makes the ATD Competency Model actionable for you personally. 

The reason for the name change was simple:  Skill Tracker is designed to help you track your skills… and grow them.

Originally, the Career Navigator included 3 broad roles (Specialist, Manager and Executive) to enable you to assess your skills across the breadth of the talent development field.  With the evolution to Skill Tracker, ATD created five specialized tracks to allow you to assess your skills against a more focused set of competencies.  The new tracks include:

  • Instructional Designer
  • Training Specialist
  • Learning Manager
  • HR/OD Professional
  • Performance Consultant

The Advanced Practitioner track still allows you to assess your readiness across all areas of expertise.

Each of these TRACKs enables you to self-assess on a very focused set of skills.  Behavioral examples make it easy for you to assess consistently and accurately – this is just for you.

Once you’ve finished your assessment, you can see your skill gaps and strengths.  Most importantly, for each of your gaps, you’ll be presented with a personalized learning plan of targeted ATD learning opportunities to help you close them.  Now you know exactly what you can do to improve your proficiency in your current role.

But don’t stop there!  Hold yourself accountable for your own professional development.  Select which activity or activities you want to pursue first and add them to your Development Plan.  Add other activities across the 70-20-10 spectrum, including those offered by your organization, or others in the public domain.  Then work your plan and re-assess to see what gaps remain – your own continuous improvement process.  Skills are currency – and ATD is helping you get them.  The creation and execution of your Development Plan is actually the most important part.

You can also leverage TRACKs to prepare for your next role.  Use Career Planning to pick the TRACK or TRACKs you might want to pursue next, get a personalized learning plan for that TRACK, and add those activities to your Development Plan.  Now you’ve got a great story to tell if you’re interviewing for that job.

Over time, your Development Plan will be your professional development learning snapshot.  And you’ll have more skills… and more professional currency.

If you want to learn more about Skill Tracker, come to the ATD ICE session on Tuesday, May 23 at 10 am in the Career Center.

But don’t wait!  Check out new ATD Skill Tracker ( because now, you know TRACKs!


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Beyond the frequency of a post training event follow up, what are tips to make learning stick?

(Question posted by participants in recent webinars)

If you are mapping the skills in your competency model across the 70-20-10 spectrum, and you conduct a formal learning event in the “10”, then at the end of that activity, you can recommend items in the “70” to help them practice on the job. 

If their manager was involved in assessing them against the competency model, and the learner elected to participate in this event because of a skill gap, then the manager has details – the behaviors of the mapped skill – to discuss and help ensure the learning is being applied.  Manager involvement is a key contributor to learning transfer.  The manager can also identify a task-based mentor to work with (“20”) – perhaps to review the activities.

Remember also that the motivation is significantly different if this method is followed.  If I identify my own skill gap, and I participate in a formal learning activity to close that gap, I will be far more likely to try to apply it because I said I needed it.

Here’s an example.  I do my self-assessment and find that I have a skill gap in Negotiating Skills.  I talk to my manager and we agree I should take a 2 day class on it.  I’m engaged and look forward to practicing what I learned.  At the class end, we were provided with activities using templates that I can use on the job.  One of them is a negotiation planner and the activity is to use it to prepare for my next contract negotiation, then review it with a peer mentor.  I fill out the planner with the details.  Then my manager finds a task-based mentor, a high performer in my role, who reviews and challenges me on how I completed it and makes suggestions.  I update the planner.  Then I share it with my manager and we role-play how I’ll use it.  Can you see how that works to make learning “stick” more effectively?

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
3 Steps to ensure your competency model is flexible and adaptable

(Question posted by participants in recent webinars)

Your competency model should always be in beta.  Competency models describe what someone in a particular role should be able to do to perform their part of corporate strategy.  If your strategy is changing regularly (and I believe that for your organization to continue to survive, it will), then your competency model has to change/adapt as well.  You need to communicate to the organization that your competency models will be changing over time.  Be sure that it doesn’t take an act of Congress for these changes to be made – it has to be part of the cultural understanding that models will adapt and are never “done”.

There are 3 steps to ensure you can adapt your competency model easily. 

1) When you make the model accessible and assessable, your competency assessment tool must support making these changes easily.  If it’s too difficult, it won’t happen, and then your competency model will be out of sync with strategy.

2) Add a feedback mechanism within your competency assessment tool (and communicate actively that you want feedback) so that you put it out there, you get feedback, and you continue to iterate the model and the behaviors to capture changes in tools, in technology, and in the environment in which you operate.  Have a defined process to do something with the feedback in a timely manner.

3) Have a rhythm for periodically re-examining the model for changes.  Maybe 2x/year, or after a transformation, merger or acquisition, or product launch.  Much like the process for creating the competency model, we recommend sending out the tasks and behavioral examples and targets in a Word document (track changes on) to 4 - 6 high performers, and a manager of people in that role.  Give them a few days to review and edit.  Consolidate edits and conduct a 1-2 hour virtual workshop to discuss and finalize updates.  Then make the updates within the competency assessment tool immediately.


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How do I make competency models more practical?

(Question posted by participants in recent webinars)

There are 2 parts to this answer.

First, you need the model itself to contain behavioral examples that provide a roadmap to increasing proficiency.  By describing best practices, the details in the model itself provide a vision of what “great” looks like and how to get there.  So the model itself needs to be valuable.   You can do this by including your high performers in the development of the model, rather than HR and L&D developing the model independently.  You can find examples in the ATD webinar (Develop an actionable competency model in weeks) and associated materials you can download:

Second, you need to make the model actionable.  It has to be accessible and assessable. That means getting it off the PowerPoint, out of the spreadsheets and into your employees’ hands.  Quickly. Easily. Elegantly.  If you create a song and dance around a “competency 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, then to them, it’s worthless.  


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How can we focus on the critical competencies (as opposed to all of them)?

(Question posted by participant in Accelerating Learning Transfer webinar)

Once you’ve built your competency model, perhaps by using the method we describe in this ATD webinar, you may discover there are simply too many tasks and competencies for a reasonable competency assessment.  For example, if you’ve identified more than 40 or 50 tasks, that may be too many because it will simply take too long for the assessment to take place, and you’ll lose the intrinsic motivation you’re trying to create.  There is no hard or fast rule, but most of our customers have between 25 – 40 tasks against which people assess. 

During the model development process, we recommend that you ask the high performers to identify which of those things they do really separate good from great.  That’s the easiest way to identify the critical few.  However, there is another aspect that goes beyond what the high performers provide.  This has to do with strategic workforce planning and identifying those skills that the organization believes will differentiate it in the future.  For example, there may be a particular technology that will drive competitive advantage, and you want to be sure to call out that technology separately, so you can easily identify organizational experts in it.  Or you know that many people with a particular expertise are retiring, and you need to know which experts remain, so you can leverage them to create new experts (“nexperts”).  So a hybrid approach is best.

Then you iterate.  Launch the competency assessment, but remember, it’s always in beta.  Your competency models are not fixed in stone.  You put it out there, you get feedback, you get data, and you continue to iterate it to capture changes in strategy, in tools, in technology, and in the environment in which you operate, so you can always focus on the critical competencies for that point in time.


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How can you use competency models to support a new system rollout?

(Question posted by participant in Accelerating Learning Transfer webinar)

Change. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. These are the things that surround a new enterprise system rollout (e.g., ERP, HER).  But what if you could help people in each role understand exactly what was expected of them, both during the rollout, and thereafter as processes change? That’s exactly what role-specific competency models can provide to you. 

If you don’t already have one task in your competency model dedicated to the new system, create one.  It could be as simple as “Demonstrate the ability to use the [XYZ] system.”  Then, it is the behavioral examples that differentiate the task from one role to another.  And the levels of proficiency identify exactly what functions people in that job need to be able to perform (with support, or independently).  This will provide you with an easy way to communicate the expectations. 

If you have your competency model in a competency assessment tool, have people assess themselves against it (and the newly added/revised task), to find out where people are at a baseline.  Be sure you have competency-based learning that is mapped to each specific role, so that as the gaps are identified, they will point to role-specific learning opportunities (system-specific job aids, formal content) that provide each person with the ability to take action.

Periodically, maybe every couple of months, and as the resulting assessment data communicates the current level of proficiency, tweak the model to incorporate any process changes or your expectations for proficiency.  For example, in my role, the target proficiency may have been 2 at the start of the rollout, but 3 months later, the target is a 3.  Four months later, I’m expected to be a 4.  Now you have an easy way to communicate expectations, by role, provide the appropriate competency-based learning to support the changes, and motivate each person to close their own skill gaps.


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
3 ways to ensure you frustrate and disengage your employees

What’s the sure fire way to frustrate and disengage your employees?

  1. Don’t tell them what they need to do to be successful
  2. Don’t give them the ability to see if they have the skills to accomplish what they need to do
  3. Don’t give them the opportunity to close skill gaps

In the Deloitte study on Human Capital Trends in 2015[1], skill gaps and employee engagement problems are at the top of mind of 87% of the leaders in HR and executive management. Only 14% of L&D leaders believe business leaders view them as strategic partners, with 52% seen as mediocre partners or worse.  This is because skill gaps and employee disengagement continue to grow, and leadership doesn’t see L&D as the solution.

Want to ensure that your business leaders don’t view you as a strategic partner?  Follow these 3 steps.

Don’t tell them what they need to be successful

A competency model describes what it looks like to be great in each role.  It defines the skills required to execute their part of corporate strategy.  If you don’t want to tell your employees what they need to be successful, don’t create a competency model for each role.

Don’t give them the ability to see if they have the skills to accomplish what they need to do

When a competency model exists, in order to make it actionable, you need to enable people in that role to self-assess against it and identify their specific skill gaps.  If you don’t want to give your employees the ability to see if they have the skills required for their role, don’t enable them to self-assess against that model with a competency assessment tool.

Don’t give them the opportunity to close skill gaps

After people have self-assessed against a competency model for their job and know what specific skill gaps they have, you need to automate the identification of competency-based learning relevant to their needs, known as personalized learning.  This eliminates guessing.  If you don’t want to give your employees the opportunity to close skill gaps, don’t provide a personalized learning plan.  Just hope that their managers can coach them up.


[1] Bersin by Deloitte. (2015).  Reimagining L&D Capabilities to Drive Continuous Learning

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News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Are Your Learners Engaged?

Two daunting trends -- the increasing skills gap and the lack of employee engagement -- are affecting the perception of Learning & Development (L&D) in organizations. Employees, managers, and executives are becoming increasingly disengaged from the L&D department and its offerings. It's time to turn it around! See what happens when you connect competency models to skills and career development with personalized learning. 

Join us for a free webinar from InSync Training on how to overcome the learning and development engagement problem.

WEBINAR:  April 5, from 1 - 2 pm US Eastern Time

You’ll learn: 

  • The three primary contributors to learning disengagement and why the existing approaches may make the problem worse
  • A new approach (that employees embrace!) to drive learning engagement
  • 3 steps to implement personalized learning in your organization

Register here!




News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Why You May Be Responsible For The Disconnect Between Learning & Strategy… And How To Fix It

They say that perception is reality.  What if perception is that your learning department is perceived to have minimal impact on corporate strategy?  According to a recent Deloitte Study, only 14% of the L&D leaders believe business leaders view them as strategic partners.  If that’s the case, who do you think they blame for that perceived reality? You might think it’s not your fault, but is it?

Do you use interview or surveys as your primary form of needs assessment?

Do you use history to determine your class schedule?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you may be contributing to the disconnect between learning and strategy.

When you ask people for their opinion or perception about what training may be needed next year, you’re probably only getting part of the picture, the things each person can think of…the symptoms.

When you use history for needs analysis to create your class schedule, you’re making the assumption that the people who were in those classes were the right people, and that an equal number of people will have the same need, in the same location, next year.

How does any of that connect to corporate strategy?


Corporate Strategy

The CEO’s job is to come up with the big picture strategy of what the organization should accomplish in the long-term.  The Chief Operating Officer’s job is to identify how the organization will accomplish these goals, one year at a time.  The COO works with the rest of the organization to determine what each part needs to accomplish to ensure the annual goals are met.  So corporate strategy gets translated from the top so that each person, in each department, has a role they will play to execute it. 


The role of Talent, Learning & Development is to ensure that people in the organization have the skills to be able to execute their role.  The competency model is the translation of the skills requirements.   

Just as the COO wouldn’t “wing it” without a plan, L&D shouldn’t “wing it” either.  The competency model for each role is the plan, and then you create competency-based learning to increase the likelihood that each person CAN accomplish their goals.  If you don’t know what skills they need, how can you possibly train on the right skills?!

That’s why performing needs analysis without a competency model is so flawed.  How can you possibly know what your audience needs if you don’t know what skills they should have? 

Next, you must map each skill for each role to the learning opportunities you have or need to have, to ensure you have competency-based learning.  This ensures that every learning opportunity you create or maintain has some value as it relates to corporate strategy.  Any learning opportunity that isn’t mapped is waste.  It’s just that simple.

Now, imagine if each person assesses their skills against the competency model for their role.  And each of those skills is mapped to competency-based learning.  The aggregated demand for each learning opportunity would be calculated for you instantly.  

  • No more guessing what to build or buy, or what to offer when and where; you would know exactly who needs what. 
  • Budgets, schedules and your development plans can be based upon fact.
  • You have justification to say “no” when someone asks for content to be developed that you know is not required.

And as the skill requirements change, they drive new competency-based learning.

Just as you may be responsible for the disconnect between learning and strategy, you can also be responsible for bringing them together.  Embrace competency models and competency-based learning and you can change both the perception and the reality that your learning department delivers maximum value to the organization.



News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How To Ease The Pain Of Communicating Culture

Changing corporate culture isn’t easy.  Whether the result of a merger or acquisition, or simply the result of an internal transformation, the most difficult part is showing each person how the change in culture directly impacts them.  Even when culture isn’t changing, communicating culture to new hires is tough.  That’s where competency models can help.

When a competency model is developed properly, it contains the categories or competencies of things that people need to be able to do within a role to be successful.  By successful, we mean to accomplish their part of corporate strategy.  (For more on that, see my blog on the value of a competency model.)  The model contains the tasks and skills required to demonstrate competence in each category.  It contains the behavioral examples of what a skill looks like at various levels of proficiency, and the proficiency level needed for that job.

There are 2 places where we can weave culture into competency models:  the description of the task or skill, and the behavioral examples.

Let’s look at an example.  What message does it send if you were to see a skill, “Create a partnership with the customer so they feel I work for them”?  Are you internally focused or externally focused?  When someone in the role sees that skill in their model, they learn that customer-focus is extremely important.  Likewise, “Identify opportunities for process improvement and optimization” communicates that you should always be looking at continuous improvement.  

And this approach continues into the behavioral examples.  Let’s say you are creating examples of behaviors at various levels of proficiency, and you are trying to instill a culture of learning.  For the skill “Use appropriate sources to develop industry expertise and insight”, you might have:

  1. Occasionally read industry related publications, web sites, blogs, and new to maintain industry awareness
  2. Read industry related publications, web sites, blogs, and news quarterly to maintain industry awareness
  3. Dedicate at least an hour each week to reading and exploring industry information to stay up to speed
  4. Receive daily news alerts from key sources including industry and customer sources and social media, but allocate 2-3 hours a week for learning
  5. Recognize that the more I know about my customer’s business, the more I can help them – so I review customer news daily or as it happens and allot at least 30 minutes a day for learnin

Just creating a competency model alone will not communicate or change your culture.  You next need to make those models accessible.  People must be able to assess their skills against them, so they become self-aware of any gaps in both skill and behavior.  And they must re-assess their skills at least quarterly, as part of a routine, so they can continue to refine their behaviors against the skills and behaviors that are important to the organization, and changes can be easily operationalized.

If you want to ensure that the organization embraces your corporate culture, or you’re trying to change the existing culture, consider embracing competency models.


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News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
Why Competency Models Will Make You Question Your Perception Of Mentoring

Supporting mentoring programs is hard.  One of the biggest problems faced by those trying to run them is that by the time you find people who are good in a lot of things who are willing to be mentors, and you train them, they often move into new roles.  Or, there are so few of them, there simply aren’t enough mentoring hours to go around.

Enter competency models.  If you enable people to assess themselves against competency models, you can uncover pockets of skill-based strengths across the organization.  How does that help?  Well, imagine if instead of having 10 people who can serve as mentors, you identify that almost every person has at least one skill in which they excel.  If you have the ability to identify these people, and pair them temporarily with others who have skill gaps in those same areas, then you can literally apply mentors at scale across the organization. 

Consider the impact of applying mentors in this manner across the organization.

  • If I’m a high performer with few skill gaps, I have the opportunity to improve my level of proficiency by mentoring others, so I can continue to grow.  And I can try to create new tools, templates and processes to help others consistently apply my techniques. 
  • If I’m an average performer with only a few expert skills, someone who would not be tapped for a traditional mentoring program, I have the opportunity to experience the impact of mentoring others.  And this may increase my drive for higher levels of proficiency in other areas, while at the same time, building my internal network.
  • If I have a skill gap in some area which cannot be well served by a formal learning opportunity, or at least not quickly, I can work with a task-based mentor on a project intimately related to my role, so I can quickly learn, apply, and practice in a safe and relevant environment.
  • The entire organization builds its bench strength as a team, working together to pull each other up with little to no cost.  All the while, the process is creating stronger internal personal connections within and across departments and regions.
  • As each person gets tapped for “something” they are really good at, they become increasingly engaged as they see their value and purpose grow within the organization.  In fact, being assigned as a task-based mentor becomes both recognition and a reward.

Successfully implementing task-based mentoring

  • To implement task-based mentors, you need to have a competency model for those roles, and each person must self-assess against it.  
  • The competency assessment tool should make it easy for managers to identify their direct report’s individual skill gaps and locate potential task-based mentors (across the organization) so they can be temporarily paired.  
  • Both the mentor and the mentee should understand the scope of the relationship – to help increase one particular skill.  
  • Time should be set aside for the two to work together on shadowing and practicing the specific behaviors that demonstrate the required proficiency for that skill, which comes directly from the competency model.
  • The mentee should reassess on that skill following the opportunity to practice, in order to demonstrate a change in skill… which becomes a positive reflection on both the mentor and mentee.
  • The mentee’s manager should assess them, to confirm the target proficiency was indeed achieved.

If you want to leverage the expertise you know exists within your organization, and engage each person to apply their strengths, take a look at how competency models can help.

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