Build or Buy a Competency Dictionary?

If you have decided to build competency models and/or include competencies in your HR applications, you will need to choose a method to use in building the models. Whatever method you choose, it will be much easier and faster to be able to draw on a list of specific competencies to include in each model. This list is also known as a competency “dictionary” or “library”. The alternative is to create the competencies as you develop each model. In this blog, we review three options for acquiring or developing a generic competency dictionary.

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Competencies are:
Competencies are the skills and behaviors that outstanding performers demonstrate more often, more skillfully, and with better results than do average performers.
This is an example of a competency:
Empowering Others
Definition: Conveying confidence in employees’ ability to be successful, especially at challenging new tasks; delegating significant responsibility and authority; allowing      employees freedom to decide how they will accomplish their goals and resolve issues.

Behavioral Indicators (specific ways of demonstrating the competency in the job)

  1. Gives people latitude to make decisions in their own sphere of work
  2. Is able to let others make decisions and take charge
  3. Encourages individuals and groups to set their own goals, consistent with business goals
  4. Expresses confidence in the ability of others to be successful
  5. Encourages groups to resolve problems on their own; avoids prescribing a solution

A generic competency dictionary would contain a list of competencies, each described similar to the Empowering Others example shown above. 

Competency Models
A model is a group of related competencies that together describe successful performance for a particular job or role, in a particular organization. Most models contain 8-15 competencies. Here are some examples.

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Options for Acquiring a Competency Dictionary/Library

1. DEVELOP YOUR OWN COMPETENCY DICTIONARY
You can develop your own models and a dictionary that includes using a list of specific competencies that you have developed on your own, possibly drawing on research on existing libraries.

Advantages:

  • Total flexibility on what competencies to select and how to describe them.
  • Out-of-pocket cost less than purchasing from most outside dictionary developers/licensors.
  • Will be tailored to your organization and use your organization’s language. More relevant to the organization’s unique environment.
  • Employees may be more committed to a competency model if they have been deeply involved in its development, and development of the dictionary.

Disadvantages:

  • Lack of research, testing, practical use, and validity.
  • Difficulty in clearly describing behavioral indicators of each competency.
  • May inadvertently reference copyrighted competency dictionaries and violate legal copyrights, incurring dollar penalties and negative publicity for the company. May violate ethics values and rules.
  • High total costs when factoring in amount of staff time and pay of developers.

2. PURCHASE A COMPETENCY DICTIONARY
From a large consulting firm such as Korn Ferry, HRSG, et al.

Advantages:

  • Capitalizes on the experience gained in other competency modeling projects, either in other companies or elsewhere in the same organization.
  • Incorporates research across multiple industries and organizations.
  • Comprehensive, large number of competencies (60 +)
  • Software that may integrate with other HRIS.
  • Efficiency – ensures consistency of competency language across an organization and that all potentially relevant competencies are considered
  • Can provide an excellent starting point in development of an organization’s competency model.
  • Large number of sales representatives to service accounts.

Disadvantages:

  • High initial cost plus high annual renewal fees.
  • Difficult and expensive to customize.
  • Seen by users as too complex or academic, not “real-world”, and difficult to understand and use.
  • Support from vendor to create models and applications, or train organization to build own models is expensive or non-existent.
  • Not tailored to the organization and use the organization’s language.
  • May not be effectively used to create competency models and included in applications.
  • Organizational members may not be as committed to a competency model if they have not been deeply involved in its development.

3. PURCHASE WORKITECT COMPETENCY DICTIONARY

Advantages:

  • Low one-time fee. No annual renewal fees.
  • Capitalizes on the experience gained in other competency modeling projects, either in other companies or elsewhere in the same organization.
  • Incorporates research across multiple industries and organizations. Used by more than 100 organizations of all sizes and industries.
  • Methodology for the building of competency models and development of the dictionary is based on the Job Competence Assessment (JCA) methodology developed by Dr. David McClelland, a pioneer in motivation and competency research and testing at Harvard, and consultants at McBer and Company.
  • Simpler, manageable 35 foundational (leadership, management, and professional) competencies, with definition and behavioral indicators by three role levels (Executive/Director- Manager/Supervisor-Professional/Specialist) and three levels of proficiency (Basic-Skilled-Expert)
  • Practical, tested, flexible (not software), easy to customize and tailor, e.g. modify title, add competencies.
  • Can be integrated into any HRMS
  • Efficiency – ensures consistency of competency language across an organization and that all potentially relevant competencies are considered
  • Can provide an excellent starting point in development of an organization’s competency model,
  • Instruction on how to use dictionary to build models with the help of a dictionary.
    Quick-Start Competency-Modeling instructional program plus 12 model templates, and the Building Competency Models 3-day certification workshop
  • A low-cost integrated talent management package is available. It includes Competency Interview Guides, Competency Development Guides, and 360° feedback assessments for the same 35 competencies.

 Disadvantages

  • Workitect is a small firm with no regional sales representatives. Support is provided by four senior consultants.
  • Integration with an organization’s HRMS (built internally or by vendor) requires IT assistance.
  • May require extra effort to “sell” Workitect and our approach because our name may not be as familiar to executives as are larger consulting firms that also provide executive search services.

Call 800-870-9490 or email edward.cripe@workitect.com for more information.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

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Step 5 of Model Building Process – Completing the Competency Model(s)

Previous blogs have described steps 1 through 4 in Workitect’s competency modeling process. Step 4, Data Collection, was covered in these blogs:

Collecting Data to Build Competency Models
Secondary Data Collection Methods
Conducting Behavioral Event Interviews
Using Resource/Expert Panels to Build Competency Models                                     General Approach for Analyzing Data to Build a Competency Model

STEP 5 – BUILDING THE MODEL (S)

After you have coded and analyzed data gathered from resource panels, interviews, and other methods, you are ready to build (write and complete) the competency model. If you are constructing one competency model, the process includes the following steps:

  1. Select a set of 8 to 15 competencies to include in the competency model.
  2. Select or create behavioral indicators for each competency.
  3. Identify 3 or 4 competency clusters and group the competencies within these clusters.
  4. Create a definition for each competency.
  5. Prepare a draft competency model.
  6. Have the sponsor and key stakeholders review the draft competency model.
  7. Revise the draft model to accommodate reasonable suggestions from the sponsor and stakeholders.

The first three of these steps are usually done at a meeting of the analysts. Each of the steps will be described in detail in the sections that follow.

1. Select a Set of 8 to 15 Competencies to Include in the Competency Model

Why Should a Competency Model Have 8 to 15 Competencies

For most jobs, at least eight competencies are needed to capture the skills and personal qualities that contribute to superior performance. The more complex the job, the more competencies can be identified. But when there are more than 15 competencies, a competency model becomes difficult to use. For example, a competency assessment tool assessing 16 competencies with five items per competency would have 80 items – perhaps too many to rate in a reasonable amount of time. If the users of the competency model have a low tolerance for complexity, the number of competencies should be at the low end of the 8 to 15 range. If the users have a higher tolerance for complexity (for example, among engineers or scientists), the number of competencies can be at the high end of the same range.

Ways to Limit the Number of Competencies

For complex jobs, such as middle and senior management positions, it is often possible to identify 20 or more competencies that contribute to superior performance. But to ensure that the competency model is useful, it is necessary to limit the number of competencies. One way to do this is to remove and set aside competencies that would also be present in “feeder” jobs for the position under study. For example, when building a competency model for middle managers of engineers, you might remove Analytical Thinking and Managing Performance. Analytical Thinking would be needed in lower level engineering positions, and Managing Performance would be needed in first-level engineering management positions. Competencies removed in this way could either be eliminated completely from the competency model, or could be separately acknowledged as part of a set of “baseline” competencies for the position. It may be useful to identify and build applications for a set of baseline competencies, if many of the job-holders lack these competencies.

A second way to limit the number of competencies is to eliminate ones that appear less important in comparison to the others. For example, you could eliminate generic competencies that received fewer votes from the Resource Panel. If you conducted and coded Structured Event Interviews, the less important competencies include both ones occurring with low frequency among superior performers and ones occurring with similar frequency among outstanding performers and persons judged to be somewhat less effective.

A third way to limit the number of competencies is to combines ones that are conceptually related. For example, Interpersonal Awareness and Building Collaborative Relationships are conceptually related, because it usually takes some Interpersonal Awareness to build relationships. When combining competencies, you can retain one of the competency names while incorporating a few conceptually related behavioral indicators from the other
competency. The following pairs of competencies have conceptual similarities.

2. Select or Create Behavioral Indicators for Each Competency

If a generic competency framework has been used, you can review the behavioral indicators for a competency and either use the entire set or select the behaviors which seem appropriate for the job being studied. Behavioral indicators are specific ways of demonstrating the competency in the job. If you want to create new or additional behavioral indicators, be sure that each one clearly describes a behavior that would clearly facilitate effective performance. Behavioral indicators should not describe people’s perceptions of the job-holder (e.g., “is widely respected”). Start each behavioral indicator with a verb. This is an example of behavioral indicators for the competency of Empowering Others:

Definition of Empowering Others: Conveying confidence in employees’ ability to be successful, especially at challenging new tasks; delegating significant responsibility and authority; allowing employees freedom to decide how they will accomplish their goals and resolve issues.
Behavioral Indicators 

  1. Gives people latitude to make decisions in their own sphere of work
  2. Is able to let others make decisions and take charge
  3. Encourages individuals and groups to set their own goals, consistent with business goals
  4. Expresses confidence in the ability of others to be successful
  5. Encourages groups to resolve problems on their own; avoids prescribing a solution

If you conducted and analyzed Structured Event Interviews you may want to create some new behavioral indicators based on behaviors that did not fit any of the existing behavioral indicators in the generic competency framework.

3. Identify 3 or 4 competency clusters and group the competencies within these clusters

Clustering the competencies helps people remember the competencies. It is difficult to read and understand a list of 12 competencies but easier to deal with three clusters of four competencies each. The cluster names should be conceptually clear, as in this example:4. Create a definition for each competency

If you are using a generic competency framework, you can use the definitions from it, but you will need to create definitions for new competencies. You may want to revise the wording of the generic competencies, so that the definitions have high impact and use the language of the organization. This is especially true if you are developing a one-size-fits-all model that will be widely used in the organization.

Creating competency definitions is best done by persons who have reviewed the evidence from the data analysis and who are skilled at written communication. Here is an example of a competency definition that was created with the assistance of a professional writer.

Resilience: Complexity and change test the individual and the organization. When things don’t go as planned, leaders must stay focused and productive to bring others along with them.

5. Prepare a Draft Competency Model

 Since key stakeholders in the model (e.g., job holders and their managers) will need to “buy in” to the competency model, it is useful to create a draft version of the competency model and have them review it. Here is a possible format for the draft competency model.

Page 1:     The competency clusters with the competency names under each cluster
Page 2:     The competencies with definitions, grouped by cluster
Page 3:     Competency 1 followed by its definition and behavioral indicators.
Page 3.1   Competency 2 followed by its definition and behavioral indicators
etc.

6. Have the sponsor and key stakeholders review the draft competency model.

Review the draft competency model with the project’s sponsor first. If the sponsor approves, send the draft competency model to be reviewed by some of the people participated as Resource Panel members or interviewees. It may be desirable to reconvene the Resource Panel or to hold a conference call with panel members after they have had a chance to review the competency model.

7. Revise the draft model to accommodate reasonable suggestions from the sponsor and stakeholders.

The stakeholders often provide valuable input. For example, they may want to include a competency that you had eliminated because you thought it was less important than the ones you included. Try to accommodate reasonable suggestions, but resist making changes that violate the principles explained in this workbook.a

ADDITIONAL STEPS TO BE COVERED IN FUTURE BLOGS

A. Special situations in building competency models:
– Working with Competency Levels
– Working within a framework of Core Competencies
B. Prepare version(s) of the model(s) to be used in application(s)

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Source/Reference:

Step 5 of Workitect’s six-step model building process as taught in the Building Competency Models certification workshop and practiced by Workitect consultants in the development of job competency models. Instruction on developing competency models is also contained in the Quick-Start Competency Modeling program that is included with Competency Dictionary licenses.

Simplify the Development of Competency Models.
Use Customizable Tools to Simplify Implementation
Purchase Separately or as a Set 

Utilize a comprehensive set of tools developed by Workitect. Each component is written in language that “makes sense” to people at all levels in an organization. You’ll save, time and money and have the confidence that your applications are based on tested, research-based content.

Each tool is derived from the 35 competencies in Workitect’s Competency Dictionary, and the competency models that are created. The Competency Development Guide and eDeveloper™ focus on ways to develop each of the 35 competencies. The Competency Interview Guides describe an interview process and interview questions for each competency. The 360° survey instrument provides assessment feedback for each competency.

©2018, WORKITECT, INC., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this work may be copied or transferred to any other expression or form without written permission or a license Workitect, Inc. – 800.870-9490 – consult@workitect.com

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General Approach for Analyzing Data to Build a Competency Model

STEP 4 – DATA ANALYSIS AND CODING

Previous blogs have described steps 1 through 3 in Workitect’s competency modeling process. Step 3, Data Collection, was covered in these blogs:

Collecting Data to Build Competency Models
Secondary Data Collection Methods
Conducting Behavioral Event Interviews
Using Resource/Expert Panels to Build Competency Models

The general approach for analyzing the data collected in step 3 has three steps:

  1. Reviewing/modifying a set of generic competencies that will be used as the conceptual framework guiding the analysis.
  2. Separately reviewing the evidence from each data collection method to identify a potential set of competencies, drawn from the generic competency framework.
  3. Reviewing and comparing the evidence across methods to identify a set of potential competencies to include in the competency model.

Each of these steps is described below. Note that the data analysis ends with identifying a potential set of competencies to include in the competency model. Moving from that step to building the actual competency model will be described in a separate blog.

Reviewing/Modifying a Set of Generic Competencies to Include in the Competency Model

If you are using a Multiple Jobs Approach to building the competency model, you will have already identified a set of generic competencies to serve as building blocks for the various competency models you are planning. If you are using the Single Job Approach or the One Size Fits All Approach, you may have used a set of generic competencies that were rated by a Resource Panel or by persons with whom you did Job Analysis Interviews. If, by chance, you have not yet begun to use a set of generic competencies, now is the time to start, because a framework of generic competencies is useful in guiding the analysis.

You will not necessarily end up with competencies as they appear in the initial generic competency framework. You may identify and add competencies that were not initially part of the framework. You may modify some of the competencies from the initial framework. But using the framework will facilitate the analysis of the data.

Based on the experience of collecting the data, you may already have some ideas about competencies that need to be added to the framework. For example, if you are preparing a competency model for Project Managers, you may have decided to add Project Management Knowledge to the framework as a technical skill/knowledge competency. It may be clear that the wording used to describe certain competencies can be improved by substituting language that better fits the job or organization. For example, if the organization in which you are working uses the term, “Driving Innovation” instead of “Managing Change,” you may want to change the competency name accordingly

If it is clear at the start of the data analysis process that changes like these will be needed, you might as well modify the generic competency framework now, so that you can look for and track evidence for these new or modified competencies during the analysis process. It will still be possible to modify generic competencies and add new competencies later on.

Separately Reviewing the Evidence Generated from Each Data Collection Method, to Identify a Set of Potential Competencies Drawn from the Generic Competency Framework

In this step you separately review the evidence from each of the data collection methods that you used – Job Analysis Interviews, for example – and try to answer the following question: Based on this data collection method alone, which competencies should be considered for inclusion in the competency model?

In carrying out this analysis, you may encounter direct evidence for certain competencies from the generic competency framework. For example, all or most of the participants at a Resource Panel may select a competency for inclusion in the competency model. Or, when analyzing Structured Interviews with superior performers, you may find that their descriptions of their behavior during key past events include many examples of some competency.

But your analysis may also reveal indirect evidence that a competency is important. For example, if you learn that an important task for sales representatives is to deliver formal and informal presentations to clients, this task implies the need for the competency, Persuasive Communication. Or if you learn that a key performance measure for a job is Customer Satisfaction, this implies the importance of the competency, Customer Orientation.

Review and Compare the Evidence Across Methods to Identify a Set of Potential Competencies to Include in the Competency Model

Although there will be some overlap in the competencies that are suggested by each data collection method, there will probably be some differences, at least in emphasis. Job Analysis Interviews with managers of persons in the job may lead to the identification of competencies that are most important and visible to the job holders’ managers. Interviews with customers of the job holders will highlight competencies that are most visible and important to customers. Structured Event Interviews may reveal thought processes that lead to the identification of competencies such as Conceptual Thinking that are not as likely to be surfaced through other data collection methods.

One way to compare the competencies revealed by different methods is to construct a matrix of generic competencies by methods, like the one below. You can omit generic competencies that are not identified as important in the analysis of any of the data gathering methods that you used. In each cell, use H, M, or L to indicate whether the competency seems high, medium or low in importance, based on data from this method. In the Overall column, make a judgment about the importance of including this competency in the competency model. You do not need to weight each data collection method equally.

AN OVERVIEW OF METHODS FOR ANALYZING DATA GATHERED DROM INDIVIDUALS

Details of this process, and instruction on analyzing and coding the data collected in step 3, are provided in the Workitect Building Competency Models workshop and practiced by Workitect consultants in the development of job competency models.

Analyzing Data from Job Analysis Interviews

Analyzing Data from Resource Panels
Analyzing Data from Structured Event Interviews
General Principle 1. Recognize Target Data
Target Data is defined as behaviorally specific information, volunteered by the interviewee in response to non-leading questions, about what the interviewee did, said, thought, or felt in one specific past situation.
General Principle 2. Focus on Effective, Impressive Behavior
General Principle 3. Code Against the Generic Competencies and Their Behavioral Indicators
This is one approach to implement coding:
A Simple Coding Process Using a Checklist
We have developed a simple coding process that is appropriate if you are doing a small number of Structured Event Interviews with superior performers and want to use the interviews to help identify behavioral indicators used by these persons.

This coding process involves using a checklist based on the framework of generic competencies and their behavioral indicators.

Reviewing and Analyzing Other Data
Survey Data, Customer Interviews, Observational Data

Details of this process, and instruction on analyzing and coding the data collected in step 3, are provided in the Workitect Building Competency Models workshop and practiced by Workitect consultants in the development of job competency models.

Instruction on developing competency models is also contained in the Quick-Start Competency Modeling program that is included with Competency Dictionary licenses.

©2018, WORKITECT, INC., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this work may be copied or transferred to any other expression or form without written permission or a license Workitect, Inc. – 800.870-9490 – licensing@workitect.com

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Use this Tool to Interview and Select Candidates with People Skills

 

People Skills = Interpersonal Effectiveness 
The ability to notice, interpret, and anticipate others’ concerns and feelings, and to communicate this awareness empathetically to others.  Behavioral indicators:

  1. Understands the interests and important concerns of others
  2. Notices and accurately interprets what others are feeling, based on their choice of words, tone of voice, expressions, and other nonverbal behavior
  3. Anticipates how others will react to a situation
  4. Listens attentively to people’s ideas and concerns
  5. Understands both the strengths and weaknesses of others
  6. Understands the unspoken meaning in a situation
  7. Says or does things to address others’ concerns
  8. Finds non-threatening ways to approach others about sensitive issues
  9. Makes others feel comfortable by responding in ways that convey interest in what they have to say

Importance of this Competency
Interpersonal Effectiveness is a fundamental interpersonal skill. It has two key aspects: (1) noticing what people are feeling, especially when they are not stating this explicitly and (2) showing by your responses to others that you care about their concerns. Interpersonal Effectiveness is essential in influencing, selling, team leadership, and people management. If you are aware of other people’s concerns, interests, and feelings, you are in a position to address them and, in so doing, to gain people’s support for what you would like to accomplish.

Conduct Structured Behavioral-Event Interviews
Include competencies in this important talent management application

Competency Interview Guides provide an easy-to-follow format for structured, behavioral-based interviews. Each Guide, with specific questions for each of 35 competencies, makes it easy for the hiring manager or interviewer to collect behavioral examples about a candidate’s relevant work experiences and accomplishments. The benefits of using these guides include:

Selecting the best candidate. Provides interviewers with questions that measure key competencies that drive superior performance.

Flexibility. Use a guide for each competency in a competency model. Use for individual, team, or panel interviews. Coordinate and centralize interview records in a HRIS.

Customizable. Edit, add, or delete competencies

Systematic. Each question targets a specific competency and the behaviors that indicate the presence of the competency in a person.

Clear Standards. Evaluations and scoring of interview responses provide detailed job-related documentation, helping to reduce potential bias.

Effective. Different interviewers identify strengths and improvement opportunities for each candidate, prioritize the most important criteria, and make an objective decision.

Complete. Includes instruction on how to conduct the interview, and forms to collect and analyze interview responses.

Download the Interview Guide for
Interpersonal Effectiveness
User’s Guide
Summary & Scoring Form

More tools to improve the talent assessment and acquisition process
COMPETENCY INTERVIEW GUIDES
One for Each of These 35 Competencies

Make these guides available to all HR and non-HR interviewers in your organization with a license that includes a Competency Dictionary license. Contact me for details and cost. Call 800-870-9490 or email ec@workitect.com
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SINGLE COPY PURCHASE

Use a Competency Development Resource Guide to develop Interpersonal Effectiveness.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

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The Format and Content of Customized Competency Models

In a previous blog, we discussed the value of tailoring job competency models to an organization’s vision, mission, and shared values.
– The job duties of a position may differ by industry or business strategy, thus requiring different competencies for similar jobs.
– Tailored models permit an organization to imbed certain competencies in each model that reflect the vision, mission and shared values of the organization.

Companies that build their own models and external consultants who build models use a variety of formats. Effective models are written in a way to be easily understood by all users, in language that is used by the organization.

Most models developed by Workitect consultants include these sections:

  1. Overview of the Competencies by Cluster
  2. Definition and Behavioral Indicators of each Competency
  3. Overview of Most Important Responsibilities
  4. Major Responsibilities and Performance Measures

Options

  • Links between Responsibilities and Competencies
  • Technical and Knowledge Requirements
  • Future Scan – Potential Changes Affecting the Job in the Future
  • Recommendations on ensuring that incumbents have each competency, through selection, development, and/or training

This is an example of an Overview of the Competencies by Cluster

EXAMPLES of CUSTOMIZED COMPETENCY MODELS

Executive Team Model

Account Representatives Model

 

Web Host Managers Model

OTHER JOBS

Project Manager

Sales Consultant

Controller (Finance)

Branch Manager

RELATED WORKITECT BLOGS

Criteria for an Effective Competency Model

Using Resource / Expert Panels to Build Competency Models

Conducting Job Analysis Interviews

Behavioral Descriptors – Options for Job Competency Models

Build a Basic Competency Model Instruction

Read more about competencies and competency models. Contact Workitect for help in building competency models tailored to an organization.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

Sign up to receive the Workitect E-Newsletter. Get valuable news, insights and practical knowledge sent to you every month. Workitect Blueprints keeps you informed about key issues facing today’s organizations—from producing superior leaders to creating superior organizations. Sign up here!

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Focused Competency Development Program

The objective of this program is to improve each person’s performance in terms of their position-specific competencies, and the organization’s overall performance against those competencies, through feedback, coaching, and training.

Each targeted competency is trained in 2-4 hour modules followed by focused individual development efforts.

This approach consists of nine steps:

A. DEVELOP A COMPETENCY MODEL FOR THE POSITION OR JOB GROUP

1. Create a formal competency model for the specific job group.

A competency is an underlying characteristic of an individual, which can be shown to predict Superior or Effective performance in a job; and indicates a way of behaving or thinking, generalizing across situations, and enduring for a reasonably long period of time.

A competency model is a group of 8-14 related competencies that together describe successful performance for a particular job or role, in a particular organization.

Examples of Models. (PDFs)

Criteria for an Effective Job Competency Model

B. IDENTIFY THE STRENGTHS AND DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL AND THE TOTAL GROUP.

2. Customized 360°survey
A customized 360° feedback instrument based on the model is developed and administered.

The survey provides clear, concise feedback from direct reports, peers, internal customers and supervisors along with the participant’s self-assessment. The participant receives feedback on the degree to which he/she has been observed demonstrating competencies identified and listed in the group’s competency model, usually 8-14 competencies.

3. Feedback to each individual
Each participant receives a feedback report that identifies strengths and development opportunities. This is done in a session where the participants learn how to interpret and use the feedback to prepare individual development plans.

4. Identify the total group’s needs
For the group, this baseline assessment identifies which competencies are strengths and which require development in order to help the organization meet its long and short-term goals.

In addition, participant strengths and development areas can be used to identify optional team projects which can provide developmental experiences in desired competencies for group members.

C. PLAN AND CREATE A TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT APPROACH AND PROGRAM

Identify the competencies that are difficult to improve through training and development activities. Competencies such as Self-Confidence are better acquired through selection.

5. Plan the development approach and program
Based upon the baseline data, a training and development curriculum, including learning goals for each of the targeted competency development modules, is planned.

6. Develop training materials
Select or develop the required training materials. Materials already exist for many of the competencies.

 D. IMPLEMENT THE PROGRAM

7. Conduct training
Training for each targeted competency is delivered in 2-4 hour modules. Workitect’s instructors or an organization’s own instructors can be trained to conduct sessions.

8. Complete individual development plans
At the end of each module, participants work on their individual development plans, utilizing Workitect’s Competency Development Guide and online eDeveloper™. These guides contain tips and resources for the development of 35 specific competencies.
This is where the optional team projects can be introduced as a developmental approach for selected competencies.

9. Follow-up coaching
Managers are trained in coaching skills and in the use of the Competency Development Guide to help participants achieve their individual development goals.

Contact Workitect for additional information.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

Sign up to receive the Workitect E-Newsletter. Get valuable news, insights and practical knowledge sent to you every month. Workitect Blueprints keeps you informed about key issues facing today’s organizations—from producing superior leaders to creating superior organizations. Sign up here!

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Improve the Selection and Development of Marketing Representatives

BUILD A JOB COMPETENCY MODEL
Having a job competency model will help identify the skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics (aka competencies) that are required for superior performance of Marketing Representatives. Shown below is a list of competencies in an actual model. Probably 70-90% of the competencies can be found in the models of most Marketing Reps. Technical competencies requiring knowledge of a specific industry can be described in a Technical Expertise competency on a separate list. A model that is customized to an organization is more accurate and valuable because it will reflect the organization’s unique culture and strategy.

 

Three Methods for Model Building
a. Build a basic model using focus groups and job analysis interviews. >>>
b. Be trained and certified by Workitect to build competency models. >>>
c. Retain a Workitect consultant to build a model. >>>
Note: Use a generic competency dictionary to ensure that common skills and characteristics are always described with the same competency names.

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Use a Customizable Tool to Interview & Select Marketing Representatives

COMPETENCY INTERVIEW GUIDES
Recruiting, interviewing, assessing, and selecting exceptional Marketing Reps requires a coordinated effort by HR staff and hiring managers who have the competencies to complete the  process. The process can be vastly improved by using templates to guide interviews.

Workitect has developed a set 35 interview guides, one for each of the competencies in Workitect’s Competency Dictionary. The interview guides provide an easy-to-follow format for structured, behavioral-based interviews. Each guide, with specific questions related to each of the thirty-five competencies in Workitect’s competency dictionary, makes it easy for a hiring manager or interviewer to collect behavioral examples about a candidate’s relevant work experiences and accomplishments.

There are twelve competencies in the Marketing Representative model. An example of an Interview Guide is the guide for Influencing Others competency (#2 in the model shown above). With twelve competencies in the model, twelve interview guides would be utilized.

Use a Comprehensive Tool to Develop Marketing Representatives

COMPETENCY DEVELOPMENT GUIDE
Developing competencies can be initially overwhelming for even the most experienced Marketing Representatives. Workitect’s Competency Development Guide – Resource Guide for Developing Competencies provides a helpful starting point, as well as in-depth information to guide users through the entire process of developing competencies. The 280-page, 8.5” x 11″, spiral-bound workbook (e-versions available) will give Marketing Reps  the information they need to develop the competencies in their competency model.

The Guide also helps organizations implement competency-based human resource systems, and helps individuals improve their competencies and opportunities for career advancement. It provides background on competencies and instruction on setting competency development goals, along with specific suggestions for developing each of 35 different competencies. There are twelve competencies in the Marketing Representative model. An example of a Development Guide is the Influencing Others competency (#2 in the model shown above).

Contact Workitect for information about services and products to improve the selection, development, and retention of Marketing Representatives, Sales Representatives, Project Managers, Managers, Executives, and thirty additional positions in eleven industries.

 

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Use Competency Interview Guides to Conduct Structured Event Interviews

The Premise:
Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. People have unique and characteristic ways of dealing with work situations. As a result, they develop preferred ways of operating. Because of these preferences, they develop particular abilities and become competent in their use. Some of these preferences, abilities and competencies are significant in predicting job success. People do—in the course of describing experiences and accomplishments—offer valuable information to adequately discern their preferences, abilities and competencies.

A competency-based interviewing protocol can be used to assess the competencies (skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics) of a candidate that have been determined to be required for superior or effective performance in a job. These competencies are usually identified through job competency modeling. Interview guides can provide an easy-to-follow format for structured, behavioral-based interviews. Each Workitect interview guide, with specific questions related to each of  thirty-five competencies in Workitect’s competency dictionary, makes it easy for a hiring manager or interviewer to collect behavioral examples about a candidate’s relevant work experiences and accomplishments. These interview guides can be used with other generic competency dictionaries or lists of competencies. Most of the Workitect competencies (definitions and behavioral indicators) are similar to non-Workitect competencies. For example, most competency dictionaries include a competency similar to Interpersonal Effectiveness and Fostering Teamwork. 

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Related Reading

Blueprint: Competency-Based Assessment and Selection    
Blog: Six Steps to Conducting a Behavioral Event Interview
Website page: Competency-Based Assessment and Selection
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The Purpose

Interview guides are designed to assist in the behavioral interview process. They provide specific questions and probes for the behaviors of a competency. In addition, positive and negative behavioral indicators are listed that will help evaluate the candidate’s responses. While the process described below is designed for multiple interviewers seeing each candidate, it can be completed with only one interviewer.

What is included in a Guide

An interview guide is available for each of the competencies in the Workitect Competency Library/Dictionary . Each guide contains a cover page with tips for conducting an effective interview with a candidate by including “What to Do”:

  1. Prior to the Interview
  2. During the Interview
  3. Following the Interview

Each interview guide then provides the competency definition and behaviors associated with the competency, followed by potential behavioral-based questions and probes for the competency. In addition, positive and negative behavioral indicators are listed to help the interviewer evaluate the candidate’s responses. Finally, the guides provide for space for the interviewer to take notes and provide an overall rating of the candidate.

Selecting Competencies for the Interview

If you have identified competencies for the job being interviewed for using the Workitect Competency Dictionary, determine which competencies you want to assess in the interview process. Usually, only a subset of the total number of competencies for a job is used in an interview – the most critical. There are two “schools of thought” when it comes to which competencies each interviewer assesses. Each interviewer can assess different competencies or multiple interviewers can assess same competencies. The decision depends on how many interviewers there are, how many competencies will be assessed for in the interview, and the preference of the organization.

If you have not identified competencies for the job being interviewed for, look at the key roles and responsibilities of the job (i.e. job description) and identify the critical requirements to the success of the job. Then, using the Workitect Competency Dictionary or another generic dictionary, select those competencies that best match up with those critical requirements based on the definition of the competency and its behaviors.

Conducting the Interview

Prior to the interview:
  • Review the candidate’s resume.
  • Review the assigned the competency(s) and the behaviors that comprise each competency.
  • Select the specific questions you feel comfortable asking each candidate. Note: Not all the questions need to be used – select at least two questions.

During the interview:

  • Greet the candidate and spend a few minutes building rapport; talk about areas the candidate is interested in.
  • Transition into the formal interview.
  • Ask the selected questions and use follow-up probes to get complete examples of the:
    • Situation that the candidate encountered;
    • Actions that the candidate took;
    • Results or outcome of the actions taken.
  • Give the candidate time to think about past examples/experiences when answering the questions.
  • Ideally get at least 2-3 examples for each question.
  • Use the guide to take notes and evaluate the candidate.

Following the interview:

  • Check off appropriate behavioral indicators and summarize key observations and notes. Rate the candidate on each assigned competencies in the space provided at the bottom of each page.
  • Note any observations for competencies not assigned and be prepared to discuss.
  • After completing, interviewers should meet to discuss and reach consensus on the final ratings for each candidate and complete the Candidate Interview Summary.
  • Make the hiring decision.

DOWNLOAD AN INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR THE COMPETENCY OF “INITIATIVE”.

Learn more about Competency Interview Guides for 35 competencies.

Structured Event Interviews are also used to collect data in step 3 of Workitect’s competency modeling process, as taught in the Workitect Building Competency Models workshop.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

Sign up to receive the Workitect E-Newsletter. Get valuable news, insights and practical knowledge sent to you every month. Workitect Blueprints keeps you informed about key issues facing today’s organizations—from producing superior leaders to creating superior organizations. Sign up here!

Ed Cripe is President of Workitect, Inc., the leader in the development of job competency models and competency-based talent management applications.

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The Right Way to Plan a Competency Modeling Project

Project Planning is Step 2 of Workitect’s process for building a job
competency models.

The key steps in planning a project to develop competency models and competency-base applications are:

  • Conducting a stakeholder analysis, identifying the people in the organization who have the most at stake in the development and implementation of competency models, and determining how and when they should be involved.
  • Preparing a draft project plan
  • Holding initial project planning meeting with project team to:
    • Review and revise draft project plan
    • Develop detailed plan with timeline and assigned responsibilities
    • Identify and agree on participants needed for each data collection activity
  • Creating and implementing a communication plan for people directly involved in the project and for all employees.

WORKSHEET FOR PLANNING A COMPETENCY MODELING PROJECT
This is a helpful checklist of key questions and issues related to the key steps that need to be addressed when launching a model-building project. It includes these sections.

  1. Scope of the Project
  2. Organizational Context
  3. Selecting the Approach to Model Building
  4. Building Support for the Project
  5. Deciding on Data Sources
  6. Staffing the Model Building Project
  7. Envisioning the Data Analysis and Model Building
  8. Reviewing and Revising the Model

In working through this worksheet, you may find that some questions are difficult to answer without a better understanding of areas such as the methodology for data gathering, data analysis and model building, and developing HR applications based on competency models. This information is covered in steps 3-6 of the six-step process that is used in our consulting practice and taught in our Building Competency Models workshop. It can also be found in the Resources & Support section of the Workitect website. Additional self-instruction material is included in Workitect’s quick start Building a Basic Model program that is available to licensees of the Workitect Competency Dictionary

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Possible ways to address several of these questions and issues are described below:

STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS
After conceptualizing an approach to the project, a good first step in planning to think systematically about the stakeholders who will be affected by the competency-modeling project that you are considering. Possible stakeholders include:

  • Job incumbents in the jobs for which competency models will be built
  • Managers of job incumbents
  • Upper management (two or more levels above the job holders)
  • HR leaders who work with job incumbents or their managers
  • Internal or external consultants who work with job incumbents or their managers
  • The senior leader of HR
  • Internal customers of job incumbents
  • Informal leaders who can influence any of the above groups

In thinking about stakeholders, try to answer these questions:

  • Apart from this project, what are the most important needs, agendas and concerns of this individual or group?
  • How can you learn more about the most important needs, agendas or concerns of this individual or group?
  • How can this project address a need, agenda, or concern of this individual or group?
  • What will be the likely response of this individual or group to the project you are contemplating: support, resistance, or neutrality?
  • For each stakeholder, what can you do to build support or reduce resistance?

STRUCTURE OF THE PROJECT PLAN
After conceptualizing an approach to the project, the next step is to develop a project plan, which should include a set of tasks and a timeline. The format of the finished plan might have the following structure.

The project tasks are broken down into five groups. Project Launch activities might include:

  • a meeting with the project sponsor(s)
  • a meeting of project team to review and refine the project plan
  • training or preparing project team members to conduct interviews, resource panels and focus groups and to perform individual data analysis tasks

Data Gathering activities include:

  • Gathering and reviewing company documents relevant to the project, (e.g., existing job descriptions, organization charts, mission and values statements, performance appraisal forms, the organization’s strategic plan)
  • Identifying participants for each of the main data gathering activities (e.g., interviews, resource panel, focus groups)
  • Developing protocols for each data gathering activity (e.g., interview guide, questions to pose to resource panel and focus groups
  • Conducting each data gathering activity

Data Analysis and Model Building activities include:

  • Transcribing interviewers’ notes or tapes and notes on flip charts from resource panels and focus group
  • Individually analyzing interview notes or transcripts from each data gathering
  • Meeting to review and compare the results of individual
  • Preparing a draft competency model
  • Reviewing and revising the draft competency model based on feedback from the sponsor and other stakeholders

Application Development activities include:

  • Designing the application
  • Developing the tools and materials to support the application
  • Preparing a training or educational session on use of the application
  • Implementing the application

Communications activities include:

  • Preparing a draft email message to be sent by the organization’s senior leader explaining the purpose and benefits of the project to job incumbents and managers of job incumbents in jobs for which competency models will be built
  • Meetings with managers of job incumbents to explain the project
  • Preparing communications inviting participation from individuals selected for data gathering activities
  • Regular meetings with the project sponsor(s) to provide updates on project activities
  • Preparing periodic email communications to key stakeholders regarding progress with the project
  • Developing a presentation of the competency model(s) and application
  • Delivering the presentation to key stakeholder groups, such as upper management, managers of the job incumbents, and the job incumbents

COMMUNICATING WITH STAKEHOLDERS AND EMPLOYEES
When launching and implementing a competency-modeling project, the leaders of the project have to clearly and comprehensively communicate with two audiences:

1.  All employees, and
2. The managers and employees who will be directly involved in the project

       ALL EMPLOYEES
When any new project is undertaken within an organization, particularly one initiated by the human resources department, people have a natural tendency to get suspicious, concerned, or just curious. Employees who understand the project, it’s scope, each person’s involvement in it, and it’s potential benefits will help turn suspicion into support, and will go a long way toward making the project successful.

If your organization has access to an internal or external employee communications expert, use that expertise to help you plan and implement an effective communications effort.

Here a few points that can be covered in communicating the project. Ideally, the initial announcement should come from the senior sponsor and include:

  • The business need for creating this model at this time.
  • The name of the senior sponsor for the project.
  • Names of people on the project team.
  • How will the model be used, the application, and when will it be implemented.
  • Who is involved in creating the model- particularly jobholders and managers of job-holders.
  • Who to contact with questions

      PEOPLE DIRECTLY INVOLVED
In addition to receiving the same communications provided to all employees, the people involved in various aspects of the project should receive clear and complete information about their specific role.

      When informing people who will be on a resource panel or will be interviewed:

  • The communications can be from senior sponsor or a senior person on project team.
  • Reiterate purpose for the project.
  • Explain why they were selected.
  • Explain how they are to participate, either on the panel or in an interview.
  • Attach key questions they will be asked (for them to consider before their session).
  • Stress that their individual comments will be held confidential; only a summary of all comments will be published.
  • Inform them of the person they can contact with questions. 

     When distributing the model or application:

  • Communications should be from senior sponsor.
  • Summarize the history of the project to this point.
  • List the people who participated in creating the model/application.
  • Explain the implementation plan and timeline.
  • Inform them of the person they can contact with questions.

In summary, do not underestimate the importance of this step. A competency-based human resource system, implemented properly, should have a very positive impact on employees’ job satisfaction. It makes it more likely that people will be assessed fairly and accurately, and be afforded opportunities based on objective criteria (a picture of what superior performers really do that makes them superior performers). Poor communications of a model-building project leads to a diminishing of this positive effect and can actually lead to a negative result.

Practical Questions for HR Professionals Who are Building Competency Models

When planning the development of a competency model or models, there are practical
considerations that affect the design of the project, the format and content of the competency model, and the success of the project’s implementation. The following seven questions may be useful to Human Resouces professionals responsible for planning and implementation:
1. What HR application should be included in the initial model building project?
2. What will the key users of the model need from it?
3. How should key stakeholders be involved?
4. How extensive should the data collection be?
5. How should research be balanced with intuitive approaches?
6. What format of behavioral descriptors will best suit the application?
7. How can additional, future competency models be accommodated? 
Contact us at 800-870-9490 or ec@workitect.com if you have questions or want additional information.
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Tailor job competency models to your organization’s vision, mission, and shared values

 

OFF-THE-SHELF COMPETENCY MODELS ARE NOT EFFECTIVE

We often get requests from organizations wanting to acquire off-the-shelf generic competency models. Can a generic off-the-shelf competency model be effective?  Don’t jobs with the same title require pretty much the same competencies in all organizations? Yes and No. I have yet to build a model for a sales job that didn’t include “influencing others” or “persuasive communications” as a competency. But, top performing sales people in one organization may have a team selling approach requiring the “fostering teamwork” competency, while it not being important in a different organization. And how is it possible for someone who is successful in one company to go to another company in what appears to be an identical position, and not be successful?

The job duties of a position may differ by industry or business strategy, thus requiring different competencies. Each organization has its own culture and “way of doing business”. Even a small difference could be critical.

Tailored models also permit an organization to imbed certain competencies in each model that reflect the vision, mission and shared values of the organization.

 

Workitect consultants only build models that are tailored to an organization, and teach internal consultants how to build their own tailored models in our Building Competency Models workshop, next scheduled for November 7-9.

Learn more about Workitect’s model building methodology and competency dictionary that is used to facilitate the building of models.

Our Model-Building Methodology
Our methodology for building job competency models is based on the Job Competence Assessment (JCA) methodology developed by Dr. David McClelland, a pioneer in motivation and competency research and testing at Harvard, and by the consultants at McBer and Company.

The modeling process starts with superior performers in a targeted job being identified, and then studied to identify the personal characteristics, skills, and knowledge that they possess that enables them to be superior performers. The methods used to collect data for building the model, such as behavioral event interviews and expert panels, are designed to get beneath mere opinions about superior performance and superior performers. Therefore, subjective data derived through group discussion, voting, or card-sorting are not components of our process.

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