Posts tagged Fourth Industrial Revolution
How do I ensure a results-oriented competency model?
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Build the model correctly

A competency model defines what each person in their role needs to be able to do, specifically, in order to perform their part of corporate strategy. If your competency model does that, without extraneous detail, then your competency model will be results-oriented, in fact, tied directly to corporate objectives and needs.

Follow the steps documented here to build a role-based competency model correctly.  


At a high level, the competency model tasks describe what someone must do.

The behavioral examples describe how someone must do the task.


Include skills of the future

With the pace of change and speed of business, including the incorporation of digitization and artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives, to be truly results-oriented, you need to be looking ahead. What tasks and skills will someone need not just to do their job today, but to make the people, and therefore the organization, competitive tomorrow? These are things like learning agility, critical thinking, data analysis, and influencing.


Reflect the organization’s business values

Created models should also reflect business values. The tasks and skills in the model define what that individual needs to do to be successful. If your organization values customer focus above all else, then it is likely that every job in the company will have some skill in their model that reflects internal or customer focus.

 These values might also be reflected in the behavioral examples of many tasks. That is, even a technical task such as “Create software functional specifications” might have examples that describe how to apply customer focus, for example, “Engage cross-functional stakeholders to ensure their needs are being met by the specifications.”

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[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 the skills gap crisis and employee disengagement continue to grow, and leadership doesn’t see Learning & Development as the solution. (Read more in this white paper)

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


1) Don’t tell them what they need to be successful

A role-based 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. It’s a roadmap to be great. And it’s never been more important than with the speed of change, the impact of digitization and artificial intelligence on jobs, and the scarcity of good talent. If you don’t want to tell your employees what they need to be successful, don’t create and use a competency model for each role.


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

To make competency modeling actionable, you need to enable people in that role to self-assess against it and identify skills gaps relative to their work. If you don’t want to give your employees the ability to see if they have the skills required for their role, and you don’t want to intrinsically motivate them to bridge their skill gaps, don’t enable them to perform a skills assessment with a skills assessment system/competency assessment system.


3) Don’t give them the opportunity to close skill gaps

After people have performed a skills assessment 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 guesswork. It accelerates learning transfer. It drives behavior change. It creates a culture of learning and learning agility that experts say is the key to sustainable competitive advantage. If you don’t want to give your employees the opportunity to close their job 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

Also found on LInkedIn and ATD


News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
GASP! I just created learning that doesn’t transfer and they can’t get up!

If you create learning that doesn’t transfer, then you too will keep your target audience from “getting up” in skills and business results. By that I mean, no addressing skill gaps, and no improving results.

Why employee disengagement occurs

In a Deloitte study[1], less than 25% of Line Managers believed their Learning & Development (L&D) departments were critical to achieving their business goals. That is not surprising given related findings on learner disengagement. It is cause and effect.

If the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job and their needs, they will be disengaged in any learning.

--> If the employee is disengaged in the learning process, then L&D efforts are mitigated – any learning opportunities will have minimal effect.

--> If minimal effect occurs, then skill levels do not improve.

--> If there are no skill level improvements, then business results do not improve.

--> If employees participate in training programs, and positive business results do not follow, then Line Managers are likely to lose faith in the ability of L&D to contribute.

Why does this happen?  It’s a likely scenario when you don’t know what skills people need. You can know you have a skill gap crisis, but if you don’t know what job skills they need, how can you possibly help them develop the right skills?  How can you create content that is relevant to their job?

Even if you know what skills they need, but you can’t measure skill gaps (you don’t actually know where skill gaps exist and have no supporting data), then how can you measure whether skills and business results improve?  That is, how can you measure that the programs you’re providing are closing skills gaps and driving results?

Resolving learner disengagement step 1: Create competency models

First, you create a role-based competency model, which defines the skills required to execute their part of corporate strategy.  In other words, the competency modeling connects skills and strategy.  A competency model describes what it looks like to be great in that role.

Step 2: Create competency-based learning

Next, you develop competency-based learning to increase the likelihood that each person CAN accomplish their goals.  This is where the learning objectives of activities are tied to the specific competency model skills and behaviors. 

Creating competency-based learning ensures the content is relevant to their job.  But remember that if the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job AND relevant to their needs, they will be disengaged.  We’ve solved the first problem, now we have to solve the second.

Step 3: Provide competency assessment tools

In order to make content relevant to each person’s needs, you need to enable them to perform a competency assessment in order to identify their specific skill gaps.  And you need to automate the identification of content relevant to their needs, known as personalized learning. 

If you develop competency-based learning and enable personalized learning, you will drive learner engagement and accelerate learning transfer.  And if you’ve got a good competency model, then it will positively impact skills and business results.

What’s more, the aggregated skills data combined with business results over time will let you measure the impact of learning.


If you ensure that you only create competency-based learning for a role, you will never again create learning that doesn’t transfer.  If you use a competency assessment tool that personalizes learning for each person, you will maximize learner engagement, accelerate learning transfer, and you WILL be able to measure the positive impact on skills and business results.

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

Also found on LinkedIn.



News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How do you create a competency model that balances technical and leadership competency development?
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Apply leadership and soft skills to the behaviors of technical skills

In our experience, competence in a role, no matter how technical, is often characterized by leadership and soft skills.  That is, achieving the minimum level of proficiency may be mostly technical, but higher levels of proficiency require “more”. 

Here’s an example.  The role is an engineer.  One of the skills in which an engineer needs to have proficiency is troubleshooting product issues. 

  • At the target level of proficiency, that requires defining the problem, using problem solving tools, and fixing the issue. 

  • At higher levels of proficiency, the engineer is frequently engaged by others for support.  They are enlisted to participate in teams for systemic issues.  They capture and share best practices and lessons learned, monitor the industry/their field for new approaches, and find innovative ways to troubleshoot more quickly.  They utilize systems thinking – understanding the impact of the issue on the organization and enlisting the support of those affected when needed to create more holistic and innovative solutions. 

Use scope to separate proficiency levels

Often, increase in proficiency manifests itself in the scope. 

  • At the target level of proficiency, the focus is on the team. 

  • At higher levels of proficiency, the focus moves to the department, then to the organization. 

Incorporate 4th Industrial Revolution skills in behaviors

Importantly, it is the 4th Industrial Revolution skills such as collaboration, influencing, critical thinking, data analysis, and learning agility, that separate good from great. 

  • For example, at the target level of proficiency, you need to collaborate with and influence your team.  You apply critical thinking to understand interrelationships between what you and team members are working on.  You perform data analysis at a micro level, on a team data set.

  • At higher levels of proficiency, you need to collaborate with and influence your department and the organization.  You apply critical thinking to understand interrelationships between what your team or department is working on and the organization’s objectives, considering broader industry trends and how they will impact them.  You analyze data from a macro level, comparing your data with other teams’ data, the organization, the industry.

Blend leadership and soft skills with technical skills

We favor incorporating leadership and soft skills into the behavioral examples of technical skills because it helps those in the role to understand the connection.  You may also have a few leadership or other or soft skills independently as part of your model as well, such as learning agility.

If you develop your competencies with the use of high performers, include the question, “What separates how you do this from how others do it?” and you will naturally identify the blend of behaviors into each technical skill. 

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector
How can I make a long competency model manageable?
Photo by  Matt Artz  on  Unsplash

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

Analyze the time for assessment

Once you’ve completed competency model development, perhaps by using the method we describe in this ATD webinar with these resources, you may discover there are simply too many tasks and competencies for a reasonable competency assessment. The assessment process typically takes a person 1 minute per task and keeping it less than 30 minutes is a competency assessment best practice. Too long 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 15 – 30 tasks against which people assess.


Ask what’s critical to success during the competency model workshop

During the competency modeling process, we recommend that you ask the high performers to identify which of those things they do that really separates good from great. That’s the easiest way to identify the critical few.


Consider the skills of the future for that role

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, or those skills which are changing or becoming more critical.

  • 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.

  • 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”).

  • Then there are the fourth industrial revolution (future of work) skills which are proving so important today. Things like data analysis, critical thinking, dealing with ambiguity and change, learning agility, influencing, and collaboration. You want to be sure that these are considered during the competency modeling process, and that those identified as relevant remain a focus.

A hybrid approach between what you get from high performers and critical skills of the future works best.


Competency model iteration over time

Then you iterate. Launch the competency assessment, but remember, it’s always in beta. Your competency models are not fixed in stone. You put them out there, get feedback, get ratings data, and you continue to iterate it (typically annually or biannually) 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
Is “Competency Model” a dirty word?

(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.

Common competency model thoughts on why they’re not good

  • “It’s full of gobbly gook”

  • “No one can understand it”

  • “We spend all this time working on it, and don’t do anything with 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.

1) Stop calling it a “competency model”

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”.

2) Fix competency model content

Fix the problem with the competency model content.  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. It must also be relevant to both current skills and skills of the future.

3) Make the competency model actionable

A capability model on a web page, PowerPoint, PDF or poster will never be used and will quickly reinforce the current perception. So you must make the competency model 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. If skill gaps are your organization’s biggest challenge (and where are they not?), then if your competency model positioning is as a tool for upskilling and reskilling to address the needs of digitization and AI, you’ll gain acceptance and adoption.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector