Posts tagged Soft Skills
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. 

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How do you create a competency model that people buy into?
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Include high performers in the competency modeling process

To get people to buy into the competency model approach, you have to include people in that role (that others want to be like) in competency model creation. In this way, it is their model – by them, for their peers. 

We actually had this situation recently, where the leaders of a role where a competency model was going to be developed were really pushing back on our process for competency model development. They felt like they already had a great job description, detailed procedures for performing tasks, and a rich qualification program that everyone grasped and bought into.

 

Watch participants body language

After a little influencing, high performers were selected for inclusion in the Rapid Job Analysis Workshop (the first step in our competency model development process). And while you could see from some of the participants’ body language that initially there was some resistance, in less than an hour, the resistance was gone. Participants understood why this process was needed. This continued through their engagement in refining the required behavioral examples of each task and skill.

 

Embrace the new competency model nuances

The client partner who was leading this process summed it up best – while the technical and functional requirements of the job were known to an extent, they had never been documented to a sufficient level of granularity. The new competency model focus was on what could be performed with the knowledge acquired, rather than the knowledge itself. What’s more, while the roles were quite sophisticated technically, what separated good from great were the soft skills. 

 

In summary, by including high performers in competency model development, and communicating how it was created during the process of making it actionable, you can ensure that those who are in the role will buy in.  You don’t build the model – they do.

News / Events / Blog Posts | SkillDirector