What is the One-Size-Fits-All Competency Model?

In the One-Size-Fits-All Approach, a competency model is developed for a broadly defined set of jobs that may have very different responsibilities and knowledge requirements. Most often, the competency model is developed for one level of jobs, such as managers, associates, or senior leaders.

The competency model often includes competencies selected for alignment with the company’s values and strategic direction. Thus competencies may have names like “Results Orientation” or “Customer Orientation”.

The competencies are often described in general terms that are not job specific, since the competency model covers a broad range of jobs which may have significantly different responsibilities.

When the One-Size-Fits-All Approach is Appropriate

  • When line management or HR wants to promote alignment with vision, values and strategy
  • When key stakeholders prefer simple solutions and have a low tolerance for complexity
  • When HR wants to implement something quickly that will have broad impact
  • When the budget for developing competency models is limited

Advantages of the One-Size-Fits-All Approach
The One-Size-Fits-All Approach sends a clear and simple message about what the personal characteristics and skills that the organization considers to be important. A competency model built with this approach is broadly applicable to a large number of employees, as are applications based on the model. For example, a competency assessment tool based on the model can be used with all of the employees in the job. Finally, the use of this approach promotes a common language and conceptual framework to use in describing key skills.

Disadvantages of the One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Because the model is used with a wide range of jobs, employees may not feel that it applies well to their particular job. If many of the competencies were selected to describe what the leaders would like people to demonstrate, rather than what superior performers actually do, people may perceive the model to be more espoused than true. The One-Size-Fits-All Approach is not as useful as other approaches in guiding selection, since selection of candidates for a specific job may require consideration of job-specific skills, knowledge and experience that are not included in the One-Size-Fits-All competency model.

Data Collection in the One-Size-Fits-All Approach

When using this approach, it is less important to identify responsibilities and tasks. Since the model will cover a broad range of jobs, the only responsibilities that are important are ones that apply to all of the jobs. Since the competency model will usually reflect the organization’s mission, values and strategic direction, it is important to talk to senior HR leaders and senior line leaders if possible, to ensure that the mission, values and strategic direction are understood and carefully considered. For the competency model to have credibility, it is highly desirable to conduct interviews with several superior performers. These interviews should focus on obtaining specific behavioral accounts of what these persons did during key job situations such as accomplishments or performance of important and challenging tasks.

Example of a One-Size-Fits-All competency framework and model

Applied in Workitect’s consulting practice.

Taught in Building Competency Models workshop


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In Good Times & Tough Times, You Need Competent People

People.  Not money, not buildings, not tools.  Competent people are your most valuable resource.  And in tough times, you need them more than ever. You need the right ones, the dedicated ones with drive and good instincts.  You want them as your managers, your supervisors, your division heads – organizers and visionaries who keep your business in top form, efficient now and prepared for the future.  And you want competence, dedication, and drive in your people:  Men and women who routinely get the job done right and on time.

But how can you find and retain those people?  And how can you promote those qualities among your existing employees?

These are the key questions that you need answered:

  •  How can I create and keep a unified, motivated workforce?
  •  How can I retain and develop my best people?
  • How do I find and assess candidates for important positions?

Competencies, job competency models and competency-based human resource applications can provide the answers.

Competencies are the skills and knowledge top performers apply in their work are called competencies. These competencies include personal characteristics, motives, self-concepts, knowledge, and behavioral skills.  The more complex the job, the more important these competencies are.

 Creating an Integrated Human Resource System

Competencies are the key to executing your organization’s strategy and reaching your long-range goals.  But the essential first step is establishing clear short-range and long-range directions.  Organizations that skimp on clarification risk developing competency programs that emphasize the wrong skills and confuse employees.

Once you’ve clarified your strategic directions you’re ready to build a competency-based system that will strengthen and support your organization into the future.  The result of this effort will be an integrated human resource system that:

  • Assesses the competencies of current employees
  • Rewards employees who meet job goals and develop target competencies
  • Provides training and development programs to build key competencies
  • Promotes employees strong in needed competencies to fill vacant positions

The Benefits of an Integrated System

The bottom-line benefits of a competency-based system are obvious: Employee motivation leads to increased productivity and higher profits.  But the real values of an integrated human resource system are more complex–and more powerful.  Focusing on competencies will renew your organization.  You’ll uncover startling energies and synergies that can give you the responsive, competitive edge you need.

To learn more about the benefits, and how to create an integrated system, download our 6-page booklet, Competencies & Competitiveness.


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