Gaining executive sponsors for competency modeling

150x150_logo-no_textTimes are hard, and businesses continue to look for ways to minimize costs. That’s not news. But how can HR improve and support organizational growth if no case is made as to the true benefits of building, implementing and expending talent management processes?

Prior to diving into any substantial project, such as a competency model, you most likely must seek executive and/or board support, initially for the general concept, then later for the project plan itself. Whether or not you’ve tried before, you probably already know that there are tangible challenges to gaining your board’s full backing of a theoretical, long-term HR project. It’s one thing to gain their understanding for this ‘nice to have’ concept, but entirely another to obtain the official green light when it comes to the specifics dealing with time, money and additional resources.

Step up and take a seat at the table

In this age of predominantly electronic communications, if you’re looking to plead your case for a competency model, we recommend avoiding the risks associated with the telephone game by speaking face-to-face with the people who have the authority to sign off on your project.

Don’t rely on lengthy reports and emails, which may easily be discarded and if possible, bypass mid-level management who must then represent you to a higher tier without truly understanding the benefits of your project.

Focusing on the big picture for broader support

Once you’ve been granted some time to present your project, make sure you’re thoroughly prepared. There are two very important things to consider:

  • Know and understand your organization/sponsor’s needs, objectives and concerns
  • Know and understand how your project can meet those needs and objectives, and address those concerns

Remember, what you ‘want’ and what you ‘need’ are two very different things. Addressing a need is far more effective than filling a ‘want’. Your sponsor might want to see improvement within a specific area of the organization, while what they need is in fact a competency model to find the right worker to create that outcome. For instance, if your company is seriously aching over a department that has experienced a substantial downturn in sales, be fully aware of why, and present facts and figures as to how a competency model would help bring about positive change. It is your job, as HR professional, to understand your company’s most pressing needs, and to present your project as the ideal solution.

Focus, focus, focus: Gathering the right insights

There are many business reasons for developing a competency model: talent and performance management, succession planning, training and development, recruiting, etc. You’ll have much better results if you demonstrate the value of your competency modeling project by providing case studies, insights and data that are appropriate for your company’s current challenges, than if you dilute your message by listing all of the benefits of models.

Remember to focus on how this project can help move the company closer to its goals and overcome its challenges, instead of talking about how HR wishes to improve its internal processes. Your project must be in-line with company objectives, and not just HR objectives – that is a crucial difference that will help you in the sponsorship process.

Research, tools and support

As HR professional, it is your responsibility to communicate with sponsors not just to obtain their support for your project, but also to build and maintain solid relationships throughout the process.

For additional tips to help you build a case for your model, click here. Module 1 of our Building Competency Models workshop addresses business needs to help you gain your board’s support and choose the best approach for your organization.

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