The Workitect Competency Dictionary

 Ensure that common skills and characteristics are always described with the same competency names. Create a framework for an integrated talent management system.

The 35 Workitect Competencies are research-based competencies developed by Edward Cripe and Dr. Richard Mansfield, formerly consultants with Hay/McBer, the consulting firm that developed the original job competence assessment technology The competency dictionary is the result of over 32 years of extensive research to help organizations select and develop superior performing workforces.

The competencies are divided into three groups and four sub-groups (or clusters):

The Leading Others Clusters 
1. Establishing Focus
2. Providing Motivational Support
3. Fostering Teamwork
4. Empowering Others
5. Managing Change
6. Developing Others
7. Managing Performance
8. Fostering Diversity

The Communicating and Influencing Cluster 
9. Attention to Communication
10. Oral Communication
11. Written Communication
12. Persuasive Communication
13. Interpersonal Effectiveness
14. Influencing Others
15. Building Collaborative Relationships

The Preventing and Solving Problems Cluster 
16. Diagnostic Information Gathering
17. Analytical Thinking
18. Forward Thinking
19. Conceptual Thinking
20. Strategic Thinking
21. Technical Expertise

The Achieving Results Cluster 
22. Initiative
23. Entrepreneurial Orientation
24. Fostering Innovation
25. Customer Orientation
26. Results Orientation
28. Decisiveness
29. Business Acumen
30. Global Perspective

31. Self Confidence
32. Adaptability
33. Personal Credibility
34. Flexibility
35. Personal Accountability

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Benefits of a Generic Competency Dictionary

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Ensure that common skills and characteristics are always described with the same competency names. Create a framework for an integrated talent management system.

Generic competency dictionaries are essential when developing multiple competency models within the same organization, to ensure that common skills and characteristics are always described with the same competency names. The organization reviews and revises a set of generic competencies, which then serve as building blocks for the construction of the individual competency models. Whenever a competency is used, it has the same general definition, but the behavioral descriptors can vary from one job to the next.

A generic competency dictionary has several uses in model building.

1) It provides a common conceptual framework or starting point for the model building team. The framework is useful in categorizing initial ideas about job requirements, and the model building team can modify or add to the framework.

2) The framework can be used in a resource panel by asking participants to rate the importance of a set of generic competencies selected for relevance to the job.

3) The framework can be used to guide the analysis of critical/behavioral event interviews.

Model builders can use a generic competency framework to note and record each instance of each generic competency. The analyst uses a spreadsheet to record the interviewer’s initials, the page number from the transcript, a paraphrase of the significant behavior, and the names and numbers of relevant generic competencies and behavioral indicators.

The data from each analyst’s spreadsheet is combined to create a database that can be sorted in multiple ways. A list of all instances of a generic competency and its individual behavioral indicators, and the number of instances of each element of the generic dictionary can be quickly tabulated. The final model is not limited to concepts from the generic competency dictionary. A competency can be conceptualized by drawing from more than one of the generic competencies; and some times new competencies unrelated to any of the existing generic ones are identified.

Workitect Competency Dictionary

Details about Workitect’s Competency Dictionary

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The New Reality: Career Streams vs. Career Ladders

Career "Streams"

Career “Streams”

Along with many other changes in how employee performance is managed, there is a change in the focus and intent of career development discussions between an employee and his/her supervisor.  In many organizations, employees and managers no longer just think of a career ladder concept where time in grade and good performance result in a higher grade or band, with higher compensation. Skills and job responsibilities at one level no longer guarantee movement to the next level.

Organizations are creating related career streams where an employee can develop a set of job competencies that are generic to multiple career streams. The career development discussions then focus on how well the employee is developing the competencies that are critical to career mobility.  The supervisor provides guidance as to which critical competencies can be developed in the employee’s present job and which ones require development outside the present job.  The employee then possesses an awareness and a foundation to determine which career streams, i.e., Operations Management, Human Resources, Engineering, Finance, etc. have core critical competency requirements in common and would lend themselves to mobility across traditional functional lines.

Job posting descriptions can now identify the critical competencies for specific positions allowing supervisors and employees to match the new position requirements with the specific critical competencies that the employee has developed in the present position. Employees can pursue opportunities that develop additional competencies by moving across functional lines.  The use of broad banding compensation processes lends itself to a career streams preparation approach, eliminating artificial barriers to movement because of grades/classifications, salary ranges, etc.Organizations can plan for future needs by assessing which career streams are growing and which are shrinking.

Employees can also be provided information as to which represent the growing needs of the company. The career development discussion has changed the focus from just moving to the next rung on a functional ladder to preparation for entering into multiple career streams that demand certain common critical competencies. The supervisor role is one of providing information and opportunities to develop critical job competencies that enhance career development.  With this support, an employee can build existing effective competencies and develop a plan to maximize their use in any career move.

Read more in Workitect’s Competency Development Guide.


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Is Your Performance Management System Working?

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Many organizations are becoming more interested in management and appraisal of competence – the “how” of performance. They are seeking more qualitative assessment, oriented to the future and focused on development. A competency approach brings a different perspective to performance management. Performance is viewed in terms of the process employees use to achieve their job results. It combines planning, management, and appraisal of both performance results and competency behaviors. It assesses what employees accomplished and how they did it (with personal characteristics they possess that predict superior performance in present jobs, or in future jobs).

Performance and competence are balanced in a competency-based performance management system. In a line job, achievement of performance results may be weighted 90 percent and demonstration of competency behaviors only 10 percent. At the other extreme, an appraisal form for a service position might weight competence 100 percent. Performance objectives for a staff job might give equal weight to results and demonstration of competency behaviors.

In traditional systems, achievement of performance results is quantified, past oriented, and tied to unit goals, based on a short term, and used to make compensation decisions. Competency appraisal is more qualitative, longer range, future oriented, and used for employee devel¬opment and career path planning.

PERFORMANCE (“pay for results”)
• “What” of performance
• Quantitative: Tied to unit goals
• Short time frame: One year, past
• Reward oriented

COMPETENCIES (“pay for skill”)
• “How” of performance
• More qualitative
• Longer time frame: Future
performance in present and future jobs
• Development (behavior change)

Steps in Developing a Competency-Based System

1. Identify competencies required for superior performance in present or future jobs (competencies needed to implement a desired strategic change).

2. Train managers and employees in performance management (e.g., coaching for performance improvement). Performance coaching involves:

a. Agreement between manager and employee on his or her “actual” levels of competence. An employee’s competency levels are most eas¬ily assessed with “360 degree” ratings by colleagues “all around” the employee (i.e., by his or her boss, and a sample of peers, subordi¬nates, and customers who know the employee’s work well). The aver¬age of these ratings is compared with the employee’s self-assessment of his or her competencies.

b. The employee identifying the “desired” levels of competence he or she wants to develop to meet his or her own performance or career advancement goals.

c. Agreement on a “contract” between employee and manager on
• The employee’s competency development goals and the action steps he or she will     take to attain them
• The help and support the manager will give the employee

This coaching approach uses the principles of “self-directed change” theory, which holds that adults change only when they:

• Feel it is in their own best interests to do so
• Feel dissatisfied with their existing situation or level of performance (“actual”)
• Are clear about a “desired” situation or level of performance
• Are clear about action steps they can take to move from the actual to the desired situation or level of performance

Competency-based performance management systems shift the emphasis of appraisal from organization results achieved to employee behaviors and competencies demonstrated. Diag¬nosis and problem solving to deal with poor performance takes this form: “If results are not at the desired level, give higher priority to these job tasks, demonstrate these behaviors more often, and develop these competencies” (i.e., model the task priorities, behaviors, and competency levels of the best performers in the job).

The addition of competencies to performance management systems has im¬portant implications for management. Managers explicitly commit themselves to provide employees with formal training, coaching, and other competency development activities during the performance period.

The most important factor in implementing a competency-based performance management system is training managers to provide this coaching and developmental assistance. (Studies of effective performance management systems consistently find training to be an important input.) Employee training also helps employees understand how the system works, what their role is, how to assess themselves, and how to contract for competency development activi¬ties with their managers. Read about organizational issues.  A Blueprint for Competency-Based Performance Management

Make Performance Management a Positive Experience

Workitect’s consulting services  for creating competency models and competency-based talent management applications

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