Avoiding the Bad & the Ugly with Competency Modeling

150x150_logo-no_textDo you know what makes for a successful competency model? It’s not so much the broader basics, such as having the right behavioral descriptors or meeting the needs of key users – although these initial thoughts are valid and important. Instead, to truly work toward maximizing the return on your HR investment, you must first consider the relationship between business needs and where a competency framework makes sense.

The nature of your business

What exactly defines the “bad” and “ugly” of competency model building? Essentially, it is the downward spiral that occurs in the very beginning stage, when users do not understand or take into account the nature of the intended application – the factors that shape the data collection and analysis.

For example, for a project to construct a competency model for new staff accountants working in a personal tax sector of a CPA firm, you know the competency model would need to be incorporated within a personal tax training program. When done correctly from the start, only then can adoption and real results take shape.

As a result, aligning competencies within the context of your business is an essential first step, and there are many best practices you can follow. Here are three great examples:

  1. Identify the most critical competencies by avoiding exhaustive lists and by keeping models smaller, thus more manageable.
     
    Try sticking with fewer than 14 competencies to help you maintain organizational focus. Include technical or functional competencies to specifically address the job skills that define superior performance based on your organization’s culture and vision. Anything beyond that becomes a greater challenge to manage, especially in times of performance reviews.
  2. Remember the consequences of having too many irons in the fire.
     
    This is never a good habit to follow, but it is particularly true when it comes to competency modeling. Instead, integrate your competency models into your existing recruiting and talent management processes in order to avoid having to manage a series of silos.
  3. Think of brand competency modeling as a strategic business initiative.
     
    Think beyond your HR function, and position your competency models as strategic initiatives necessary to the success of your organization. Remember that employees are the advocates and sounding board for establishing competencies that make sense on the job. Don’t neglect any feedback.

The solution, not the problem

When you position competency models as business solutions, instead of yet another HR process, they certainly seem far less “ugly”. And by keeping competencies focused on the areas of greatest interest for your organization’s success, the ROI of your competency models can only be increased.

If you wish to learn more on how to connect competencies with your business strategies, browse our website for more tips and tools, or let us come to you to help you build and implement the right model for your business.

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