Six Steps to Conducting a Behavioral Event Interview

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Regardless of how you view today’s economy, if your job involves acquiring talent for your organization, you know that interviewing, assessing, and selecting the best candidates for key jobs remains as challenging as ever.

Even more challenging is finding candidates who have been superior performers in their current job and who are likely to be superior performers in a new job. To do so, it is first necessary to have a clear picture of what constitutes “superior performance” and the competencies possessed by superior performers that enables them to be superior performers. Job competency models serve such a purpose. Developing job competencies models utilizes a special behavioral event interviewing (aka BEI) technique

The basic principle of the competency approach is that what people think or say about their motives and skills is not credible. Only what they actually do, in the most critical incidents they have faced, is to be believed. The purpose of the BEI method is to get behind what people say they do to find out what they really do. This is accomplished by asking people to describe how they actually behaved in specific incidents.

More about the Purpose of a BEI

The goal of the behavioral event interview is to identify the competencies needed to do various jobs. Its nearest relative is the searching clinical interview, in which the goal is to identify the individual’s chief characteristics that have lead to maladjustment. In the behavioral event interview the focus is what it takes to do a given job well. Since individuals may adjust to a job idiosyncratically, it is necessary to interview several incumbents and try to determine what characterizes good performers as contrasted with poor performers. In isolating the competencies needed, the interviewer should keep in mind what is measurable. When the interviewer has formulated the competencies that are needed, he or she will test these judgments by finding measures of them and determine if those who perform the job well score higher on these measures than those who perform poorly. When these hypotheses about the competencies needed for a job are cross-validated in this way, the measures can be used to select better qualified people or to train people better for the job.

The Basic Technique

One of the best methods of getting the information to assess the competencies needed for a job is to elicit very detailed behavioral descriptions of how a person goes about doing his or her work. Sometimes this may be done by asking a number of job incumbents to write out critical incidents, following a technique first popularized by Flanagan (1954). However, these incidents may not be detailed enough to figure out just what the person was thinking and doing. Therefore, it is usually better to interview a few incumbents in depth. This permits a more thorough exploration of each episode reported until all the relevant behaviors have been elicited. To distinguish this technique from Flanagan’s well-known critical incident approach, it should be referred to as the behavioral event interview technique. The interviewer should realize at all times that the purpose of the interview is to get raw behavioral data which can be used to conceptualize the competencies that are required for doing the job well.

Above all, the interviewer must avoid being caught up in the interviewee’s concepts of
what it takes to do his or her job. Every person has some ideas about what he or she is like and how he or she does things. In some cases these ideas may be accurate but often they are not, and the interviewer must avoid asking questions that simply elicit the interviewee’s concepts. The interviewer must keep pushing for the behaviors — the thoughts and actions — that the interviewee demonstrated on a given occasion.

Use of a tape recorder is recommended to save every detail of the interview for future uses, such as developing case materials and other learning aids. Its most immediate use is to help you reconstruct your interview notes when you do your summary writeup. However, there is no substitute for good note-taking, especially if you have a mechanical failure. Don’t expect to use the recorder like a crutch and your notes will be all you will need to write up the interview, saving you the time you would ordinarily have to spend listening to the interview all over again.

How to Conduct the Interview

Step 1. Explanation

Everyone will want to know why he or she is being interviewed. Your explanation might go something like this:

“I’ve been asked to try to figure out what competencies it takes to do your job. The best
approach seems to be to ask a person who is doing a job how he or she does it. You are the obvious expert in what it take to be (whatever the person does). We’re just going to talk for awhile about some examples of how you do your job”.

Optional, depending on the interviewee’s curiosity and/or your mandate:

“This is part of a program which should lead to better selection and training for the job. If we can identify the competencies needed for a job, we can select people who have those competencies needed for the job or train job incumbents to develop the necessary competencies to a fuller extent”.

At this point you should get the permission of the interviewee for you to tape-record the interview. You can explain it this way:

“With your permission, I would like to record parts of this interview to help me with my notes.
Everything you say will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone else in
(interviewee’s organization). But if there is anything you want to say off the record or don’t want me to record, just let me know and I’ll turn off the tape”.

Step 2. Duties and Responsibilities

It is a good idea to break the ice by getting the interviewee talking about what he or she does in a general way, that is, about what his or her duties and responsibilities are.

“Let’s begin by taking about what your responsibilities are in your job. I really know nothing about what it takes to be a good (policeman, naval officer, manager, etc.). What do you do? Where do you work? Whom do you work with? What are your hours? Whom do you report to? Who reports to you?”

The objective here is to get the interviewee talking in as free and relaxed a way as possible about his or her job. Sometimes interviewees have difficulty getting started, but most of them find it easy to talk about their work and they like telling others what they do. It is wise not to push the behavioral event approach on them too soon; lead into it gradually.

Often in the course of describing their work, interviewees will say things that puzzle you or that you want clarified. For example, a police captain may say, “Well, I supervise the lieutenants”. Here he is simply quoting a job description to you and your problem is to find out what he means. So you say “Could you explain a little more what you mean by ‘supervise’? Do they write reports for you to read? Do they come in to talk with you first thing in the morning, or when they leave? Do you observe them working with the patrolmen? What is the chance you would get to know they were doing something wrong or to give them some direction? It helps most if you can describe an actual case where you supervised someone”.

Step 3. First Behavioral Event

Hopefully this questioning about duties will lead to a critical event which you can ask the interviewee to describe in detail so that you can get a better idea of how the job is done and what characteristics it takes to do it well. You may say something like:

“To get a better idea of what supervision consists of, can you think of an instance where
you were able to help someone do his or her job better, or keep him or her from making a mistake? I need an example of just how you operate”.

It is hard to generalize about just how you will hit on the first incident since it should come up naturally in the course of discussing various responsibilities. But once you have got the interviewee talking about a particular event, you should push hard for behavioral detail.

“Now let me get the setting straight. Let’s begin at the beginning. Where were you? What time of day was it? What had you been doing when this came up? What was in your mind?”

You may want to ask what kind of day it was (raining?) or how the interviewee was feeling, to recreate the whole scenario. Here you become an investigative reporter, pushing to get clear in your mind just what happened. Asking for time, place and mood often helps the interviewee recall the episode, since all the person has left in his or her mind usually is some memory of how it all turned out which he or she told you first anyway. You should have in mind the following questions as the interviewee begins to tell the story:
– What led up to the event?
– What was the person thinking? (of the individual he or she was interacting with, of the       situation,etc.)
– What did the person do, and why?
– What was the person feeling, wishing?
– How did it all turn out?

You are interested in the interviewee’s:
– Perceptions of the people and the situation
– Thoughts
– Acts
– Feelings
– Conclusions for future reference

Try to get the interviewee to begin at the beginning and take you through the story as it unfolded. Otherwise you may get confused about what happened and who did what. This may be difficult because the interviewee will usually start by remembering the outcome of an event. Just say, “That’s exactly what I had in mind. Now let’s start at the beginning so that I can understand what happened”. As the interviewee tells you all this, you are learning things about him or her, and you should ask questions that will verify or double-check inferences you are beginning to draw about his or her competencies. In all questioning, however, be sure that you are giving the interviewee plenty of reinforcement for what he or she is telling you. You are not the FBI. You should laugh with the interviewee, tell stories of your own if necessary to keep the flow of talk informal and pleasant, constantly reinforce him or her for the help he or she is giving you in clarifying what goes on
in this job.

Your objective is to get the interviewee to tell you little vignettes, scenarios of things that happened to him or her. Some people need a lot of encouragement and stimulation to really get into the process of telling a story.

Step 4. Further Behavioral Events

You may find it easy in talking about an event in the area of supervision to move on to an example of when things didn’t go well:

“That helps me understand much better what supervision involves. Now, can you think of an instance in which you feel you didn’t carry out supervision as well as you might have? That will help me also, because it will identify the characteristic one ought to show in such situations”.

If the interviewee can’t think of one, you can make a few suggestions (“Did you ever have to fire somebody?” “Did you ever have problems with any of your subordinates?”) and if the interviewee still blocks (an unusual occurrence!) you can go to some other area (“Well, can you think of a time when things didn’t go well on the job?”). Again, when the interviewee comes up with and event, ask first for time, place and setting, and then go into detail.

In all, it is best to try to get detailed descriptions of three events where the interviewee was effective and three events where the interviewee was ineffective. but there is nothing magical about these numbers. The crucial question is whether you are learning what it takes to do this job well.

Occasionally you will run into someone who blocks when you ask him or her for an example of something that went particularly well or poorly. The interviewee just can’t seem to think of anything important. In that case, don’t keep pressing him or her; your main goal of getting the interviewee to talk about how he or she performs on the job may only be interfered with as he or she gets more frustrated or annoyed about not being able to do what you want. Then you should use other approaches to get the interviewee to talk, such as asking the person to take you through what he or she did yesterday or probing in detail, or just how he or she goes about supervising someone through an example.

Remember, the goal is to get the interviewee to talk about the way he or she does the job.
Any method of doing that is legitimate.

Step 5. Characteristics

It is often useful at the end of the interview to ask the interviewee what characteristics he or she thinks a person ought to have to do his or her job well. This serves the double purpose of establishing good relations by asking the interviewee’s opinion and also of giving you some further insight into what he or she thinks is important. For example, if none of the good incumbents thinks to mention interpersonal skills, you may want to infer that incumbents in this job can get along without caring much about interpersonal relationships.

Step 6. Summary and Writing

After the interview is over it is a good plan to sit down quietly for an hour and summarize what you have learned. This may include a brief characterization of the person you have just interviewed. It also helps you define things about which you are still unclear. In other words, it is a time to make your budding hypotheses explicit so that you can check them in later interviews. If you have the time, this is the best point to write up the entire interview, while your memory is still fresh.

Reference: Spencer, L. M. & Spencer, S. M. (1993). Competence At Work. New York: Wiley, 114-134

FUTURE BLOGS

THREE PITFALLS TO AVOID IN INTERVIEWING
FIVE COMPETENCIES TO HAVE IN MIND
COMPARISONS OF JOB ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
COMMON INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES
FOUR COMMON INTERVIEWING STYLES
FEATURES OF THE BEI TECHNIQUE
ADVANTAGES OF THE BEI TECHNIQUE

Note: This information can also be found in the Research & Support section of the Workitect website.

The BEI technique has been adapted and taught in Workitect’s Building Competency Models workshop and Interviewing for Competencies workshop as the Structured Event Interview.

The methodology is also applied in Workitect’s set of 35 Competency Interview Guides.

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Competencies and Competitiveness

best-practicesSeveral years ago, the WorldAtWork association sponsored a research study titled “Raising the Bar – Using Competencies to Enhance Employee Performance”.  The results were published in a 76-page booklet. The findings are still relevant and insightful today. 

Competencies connect with business strategy, the techniques organizations use to build competency models, and the similarities and differences among com­petency-based human resources applications. Competency-based talent management applications are not new; but it may still be too early to judge whether competencies ful­fill their potential as a means to improve employee performance and, ultimately, enhance business results. But attitudes toward competencies are largely positive, and a large majority of organizations want to expand the role of competencies within their organizations.

Following are the key findings of the original research effort. Based on our own research and experience in the field, most are still valid in 2016.

• Competencies are used to “raise the bar” on employee performance.
HR executives say “raising the bar” is a key objective of competencies, as opposed to using competencies to establish a baseline for perfor­mance. Also, many HR executives tailor their HR applications to focus on individual performance. Competencies are defined thoroughly (often using high performers and functional experts as a primary source of input), and they often are supported with scaled levels to illustrate in­creasing levels of proficiency. This provides individuals with detailed road maps for increasing their capabilities incrementally.

For staffing applications, competencies are used to hire, place and promote people with the right capabili­ties to help the organization gain competitive advantage. For training and development, competencies are used to identify gaps in each participating employee’s capa­bilities so these gaps can be remedied. For performance management, competencies and results are assessed side by side, reminding employees that how they do things is as important as what they do. For compensation, both competencies and results impact base pay decisions to reward performance and competency development.

Competencies are used to focus on an organization’s culture and values. Many organizations use competency-based applications to communicate values to the work force and to build the proper culture for success. While these issues may ap­pear somewhat removed from the bottom line, many organizations recognize the importance of culture in achieving competitive advantage.

Business strategies drive competencies. Competency information comes from multiple sources, and strategy plays a key role in development. The most frequent source of information is senior management and strategic plans. The next most common sources of information are high performers and functional experts. These sources of information often are used in com­bination.

Competencies focus on how performance re­sults are achieved. Competencies are behavioral mod­els that are built upon skills, knowledge and personal attributes. Furthermore, all attributes of competencies should be observable and measurable, and they must contribute to enhanced employee performance and, in turn, organizational success.

• Competency applications are evolu­tionary, not revolutionary.  First, it appears that many competency-based approaches are treated as add-ons and are not leading to radical adjustments in HR processes. Sec­ond, with regard to specific HR applications, many managers continue to make the lion’s share of performance man­agement and compensation decisions. Furthermore, with the exception of the use of behaviorally anchored rating scales, base salary adjustments under competency-based systems are largely made in a traditional fashion. Finally, for staffing purposes, competencies are rarely used when checking references or as the sole basis for rejecting candidates.

Competencies provide a framework for integrating HR applications. Integrating HR applications is a desired outcome for most organizations. Many HR functions have more than one competency-based HR application. Those who have applications in place for more than a year usually desire to expand compe­tencies into additional HR areas. Lessons learned in one area of competency-based HR should be applied to other competency applications.

Compensation is the least common application. Performance management is the most cited application, and staffing and training and de­velopment are in between. Staffing applications tend to be oldest, followed by performance management, train­ing and development, and compensation applications. This may imply that staffing applications represent starting points for many organizations that are interested in competencies. Compensation is seen as an application that can be added once other applications are in place. One reason for why staffing applications are older may be historical; David McClelland and McBer’s early work with competencies was to examine them for selec­tion purposes.

These findings should not be interpreted as a prescrip­tion for the order in which to install competencies.  Many organizations start competencies in different areas of HR and then gradually work their way to other areas. In fact, many organizations also work on more than one application at once. The key is not the order in which applications are developed, but how these applications ultimately are in­tegrated and linked to business strategy.

Additional findings and other relevant studies will be published in future blogs.

Read more…….to learn more about the benefits, and how to create an integrated HR system, download Competencies & Competitiveness.

Also in “The ROI of Competency Technology” – What is superior performance worth in your organization?

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“Workitect’s competency modeling process gave us a solid foundation to select and develop high performing branch managers and customer service reps. Their consultants worked well with all levels – from executive to front-line employees. They were professional, easy to work with, and good at sharing their expertise and organizational insight with us.”  Director, Organizational Learning

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Three Approaches To Competency Model Building

Man in front of three doors, doubtful. Rendered at high resolution on a white background with diffuse shadows.

When deciding how to approach a competency model building project, it is useful to consider three distinctive approaches:

  •   Single Job Competency Model
  •   One-Size-Fits-All Approach
  •   Multiple Job Approach

A project usually focuses on one of these approaches, although it is possible to use a combination of these approaches within one organization.

Single Job Competency Model

This approach focuses on a single, narrowly defined job that is important to the organization’s success and has at least 10 job holders. The jobs covered by the competency model should have similar responsibilities and performance measures. Any requirements for technical skill or knowledge should be similar across the set of jobs. Examples of jobs for which a single job competency model is appropriate include sales representative, customer service representative, project manager, and plant manager.

The single job approach uses extensive and rigorous data collection, to ensure that the competency model contains highly specific behavioral descriptions of what one needs to do and how, in order to achieve superior results. This approach often includes a detailed breakdown of the main responsibilities and tasks and shows how they are linked to the competencies. Compared to the other two approaches, the single job approach is more time consuming and expensive to implement.

Data Gathering for the Single Job Approach

Usually, in the single job approach, data are gathered in multiple ways. For example, job analysis interviews may be used with job holders to identify main responsibilities, break each main responsibility down into tasks and sub-tasks. A resource panel, comprised of several job holders and several managers of jobholders, may be used to gather the same type of information, as well as information about performance criteria and measures and about changes in the business and organizational context that have implications for new and emerging competency requirements. In order to develop highly detailed behavioral descriptions of the competencies, the Single Job Approach almost always includes structured behavioral interviews with superior performers in the job, in which these persons are asked to provide detailed accounts of how they approached several key tasks or work situations.

Advantages of the Single Job Approach

A competency model built using the Single Job Approach has high face validity and high credibility with job holders and their managers. The model provides a recipe for superior performance. The specific behavioral descriptions of the competencies are useful when developing training programs. The rigor of the methodology ensures that if the organization wishes to use the model for selection, there will be a strong legal justification for doing so.

Disadvantages of the Single Job Approach

Because this approach targets a single, narrowly defined job, the competency model and HR applications built on it affect a relatively small number of employees. As noted earlier, the Single Job Approach is relatively expensive and time consuming to implement, especially if competency models are desired for multiple jobs.

When the Single Job Approach is Appropriate

This approach is most appropriate when:

  •   There is an opportunity to gain competitive advantage by improving the productivity of people in a key job
  •   The potential productivity gains from applying the model justify the time and expense of building it
  •   There is a need to use the competency model as a basis for developing a training program or curriculum
  •   The organization currently has several superior performers in the job
  •   The job is expected to continue to exist in the organization for at least three years.

More about the…..

The One-Size-Fits-All Approach
Multiple Jobs Approach
Advantages of One-Size-Fits-All and Multiple Jobs Approaches

Reprint: Building Competency Models – Approaches for HR Professionals

As taught in Workitect’s Building Competency Models workshop.

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Interviewing and Assessing “Strategic Thinking” Competence

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What is a Strategic Thinking Competency?

Definition: Analyzing an organization’s competitive position and developing a clear and compelling vision of what the organization needs for success in the future.

 Behaviors:

  1. Understands the organizations strengths and weaknesses as compared to competitors
  2. Understands the industry, market and product/service trends affecting the organization’s competitiveness
  3. Develops distinctive strategies to achieve and sustain competitive advantage; translates strategies into clear goals and objectives
  4. Communicates a clear vision that energizes others to accomplish what the organization needs for success in the long term; consistently restates and reinforces that vision and direction
  5. Focuses on ways to build the organization’s capabilities for the future

Using a Competency Interview Guide

Download the complete interview guide for Strategic Thinking.

Use a Competency Interview Guide to assist in the behavioral interviewing process. It provides specific questions and probes for the behaviors of the 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.

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 this 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.

Examples of Behavioral Questions and Probes

1a. Think about the organization you work for now. What are some strengths and  weaknesses of the organization as compared to its competitors?
1b. What industry and market trends are affecting the organization’s competitiveness?

2. Think about a product or service provided by your organization. What are some specific competitive strengths and weaknesses of that product or service within the marketplace?

3. Give me an example of a time when a product or service you were offering was not as competitive as it should be. How did you know this and what did you do about it?
What was the situation? What action(s) did you take? What was the result?

4. Give me an example of when a product or service you were offering was one of the best in the marketplace. How did you know this and did you do anything to keep it the best?

  • What was the situation? What action(s) did you take? What was the result?

Download the complete interview guide for Strategic Thinking.

Learn more about Competency Interview Guides for 35 competencies.

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How to include Technical Competencies in Competency Models

 

Technical iStock_000017398954MediumYou do not need a technical competencies dictionary in order to include technical competencies in your job competency models.

Identifying the Competencies                                                                                        In Workitect’s model-building methodology, technical competencies are determined through interviews, expert panels, and other methods as described in our “Developing Technical Competencies” blog, and as taught in our Building Competency Models and Creating Technical Competencies workshops. The purchase of a separate technical competency dictionary is not required.

One Method: The Technical Job Requirements Interview
One of the interview methods is the “technical job requirements interview”. This is a one-hour interview that can be used to identify the technical skills and knowledge needed in a single job or in a set of jobs with the same or similar responsibilities (e.g., Sales Representative, Customer Service Representative, Plant Manager, Financial Analyst). The interview can be conducted either with jobholders or managers of jobholders. The interview includes questions about (a) the technical qualifications and experience expected when someone is hired into the job, (b) the most important job responsibilities, and the technical skills and knowledge required to perform each main responsibility.

This interview can be used with superior performing jobholders or managers of jobholders. In either case the interviewees should be persons who have held the role for a minimum of 6 months and preferably at least a year. This interview takes about one hour to conduct. At least two of these interviews should be conducted for each job for which technical skill/knowledge requirements need to be established.

Describing the Competency in a Model
When it is determined that superior performers in a position require a high level of technical expertise in a specific field, the technical competency (or competencies) can be included in the competency model in these possible ways:

  • The identified competency can be listed under the Technical Expertise competency in our dictionary and described by job level and level of proficiency.
  • Include it as a separate competency without levels, with details of the competency described in a Major Responsibilities section. Example: Web Host Manager model.
  • List it in a separate section in the model. Example: page 14 in this Project Manager model.
  • Describe in levels and by major responsibilities totally customized to the organization and industry. Example

Example of Technical Competencies with Levels and Behavioral Descriptions

Microsoft Excel Skill: The ability to use Microsoft Excel to develop plans and analyses, and to prepare reports displaying the results of analyses in tabular and graphical format.

Levels General Descriptions of Levels Behavioral Descriptions of Levels
Basic Proficiency • Has completed a basic training course, if one is available.

• Has begun to apply skill/knowledge.

• Has completed Excel I course.

• Has prepared at least one analysis using Excel, with supervision.

Intermediate Proficiency • Has developed some breadth or depth of knowledge and skills, but has not mastered all areas needed for full proficiency.

• Has significant experience and practice applying knowledge and skills across many relevant areas.

• Has completed at least one Excel course beyond Excel I.

• Has prepared at least 6 analyses and reports using a variety of functionality.

 

Full Proficiency • Fluently applies the skills and knowledge in all applicable tasks performed in his/her organization.

• Has extensive experience and practice applying this skill area across all relevant areas.

• Has provided technical leadership of the full range of applicable tasks performed in his/her organization.

• Has completed at least 4 courses in Excel.

• Fluently uses look-up tables, queries, formulas for financial applications, pictures and drawings, pivot tables and what-if analyses;

• Has led the preparation of complex analyses and reports.

Expert • Has developed training materials and had extensive experience teaching this skill/knowledge area to others.

• Has cutting-edge knowledge of state-of-the-art application of this skill/knowledge area outside of the organization.

• Has developed new tools or technology for this area.

• Has developed and delivered advanced courses in Excl

• Develops applications for Excel, using Visual Basic

• Is recognized and sought out as an Excel expert within the company.

Learn more about Workitect’s consulting services, workshops, and products, including competency dictionary, interview guides, and development guides.

Join the LinkedIn Competency-Based Talent Management group.

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Develop Organizational Effectiveness and Development

ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT AND CHANGE LEADERSHIP is one of eighteen competencies in Workitect’s competency model for human resources professionals working in a global environment. The model was originally developed by Workitect for a global organization. It is one of four competencies in the Strategic BUSINESS PARTNERING Competencies cluster.  Resources for developing the competency are listed in the 166-page Resource Guide for Developing Global HR Competencies.

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The competency addresses the ongoing challenge of managing change. Change is a painful process for most people and it is generally the ‘people’ component that is most challenging in all change initiatives. It is therefore critical that Human Resources be available to help, from the initial analysis and design phases through all stages of the change process. As impartial facilitators, the Human Resource team can help to ensure a smooth and positive process, that any changes are consistent with company’s culture and that the interests of the organization and people are taken into consideration.

In SHRM’s HR Competency Model, this competency would be similar to Behavioral Competency #5 (Consultation) and Domain 2, Functional Area #6 (Organizational Effectiveness & Development).

Definition of this competency: Effectively communicates core values and behavioural standards; monitors and facilitates internal communications; disseminates necessary information to appropriate parties; develops the organization’s image within local community.

An employee demonstrating this competency:

Process analysis and redesign

  • Analyzes and redesigns organizational and business processes to ensure maximum efficiency, increased effectiveness and lasting impact.

Change Management

  • Manages change to create a positive environment emphasizing the benefits of the changes.
  • Oversees smooth and progressive transactions to change initiatives.

Culture redesign

  • Manages and promotes organizational culture redesign efforts to ensure that the changes meet organizational objectives with respect to the organization’s brand, employee performance and customer expectations.

Evaluating

  • Evaluates the effectiveness of current HR programs and practices and integrates competencies into all HR programs.
  • Applies cost/benefit principles in deciding on best approaches to work.
  • Performs appropriate information gathering intervention (in-depth interviews, surveys, focus groups, etc.) to determine organizational issues and needs.

Innovating

  • Produces strategic and creative solutions.
  • Thinks “outside the box” when addressing issues.

PRACTICING THIS COMPETENCY

As a Team Member

  • Look for opportunities to get involved in change initiatives, as early as possible in the planning and analysis phase, especially with regards to people issues.
  • Offer to help evaluate the various options, considering the ramifications on people and the Values and Culture Characteristics.Explore ways to integrate core, leadership and function specific competencies (where available) into all Human Resource’s programs.
  • Be prepared to suggest creative solutions to problems, both within Human Resources and to your internal customers where appropriate, and especially where it concerns people.
  • Offer to be part of data gathering groups, where objective evaluations are required.

As a Team Leader

  • Demonstrate positive change management/facilitation skills with your own team.
  • Use a specific change opportunity in Human Resources to demonstrate all of the elements and skills required in a change initiative.
  • Assign members of your team to assist internal customers with change initiatives, overseeing and coaching their involvement where necessary.
  • Be prepared to evaluate every Human Resource’s program to make sure that it is relevant and effective, and make changes where necessary.

OBTAINING FEEDBACK

  • Each time you try out a new change management process (e.g., for planning, team decision making, team problem solving) hold a session with the team to discuss what went well and what could be done differently and better in the future.
  • If you are a manager, ask the people who work for you what you can do to help foster innovation, both within the department and through cooperation with other groups.

LEARNING FROM EXPERTS

  • Volunteer to serve on a cross-functional team charged with implementing change. Observe what the team leader does and keep of list of ideas to apply in your own department.
  • Interview someone who has successfully led an organization/department through change. Consider people outside of your own organization, as well as people within it. Ask the person to walk you through the process he/she led. Find out how the person approached this situation and what he/she specifically did. Ask about problems that were encountered and how they were addressed.
  • Interview someone who successfully developed or sponsored the development of a significant innovation. Consider people both within and outside of your organization. Ask for a detailed account of what the person did and how. Make a list of ideas that you can implement yourself.

COACHING SUGGESTIONS FOR MANAGERS

If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:

  • Assign the person to work on a team headed by a consultant or internal leader who is skilled in change management.
  • Help the person develop a plan for working with his/her department to implement change. Think through the resources and support this person will need. Try to anticipate and develop contingency plans for problems that may be encountered.
  • Make yourself available on a regular basis to discuss how the change management efforts are progressing.
  • Provide opportunities for training in areas such as problem solving and change management.
  • Provide opportunities for training in technical skills needed for innovation in a particular area.
  • Assign the person to teams involved in developing innovations or in implementing change.
  • Recognize and reward innovative behavior.

 SAMPLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

  • By March 15, I will hold a meeting with the employees in my department, to review the overall direction of the division and identify what our department needs to do differently to implement this dition and to develop a plan for change.
  • By April 10, I will identify a new group problem-solving method and try it out in my department.
  • By May 1, I will read The Dance of Change, by Peter Senge and develop a list of ideas to try out in my department.
  • By May 3, I will complete the AMA self study course in creative problem solving and prepare a list of ideas that I can apply in my own work.
  • During the spring, I will volunteer to serve on an improvement team and contribute actively.
  • By July 14, I will form a team to identify and implement improvements in our employee orientation process.

External resources (books, online and self-study courses) for developing this competencies.

Roadmaps for developing seventeen additional competencies are contained in Workitect’s Resource Guide for Developing Global HR Competencies, a companion to Workitect’s Competency Development Guide.                  

Read the Table of Contents for the HR Competencies Development Guide. Purchase the Guide.

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Develop the HR Competency of “Promoting the Organization’s Culture & Values”

HR_ResourceGuide_SpiralCvr_612x792

VALUES AND CULTURE PROMOTION is one of eighteen competencies in Workitect’s competency model for human resources professionals working in a global environment. It is one of five competencies in the HR LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES cluster. Resources for developing the competency are listed in the 166-page Resource Guide for Developing Global HR Competencies.

Definition: Effectively communicates core values and behavioural standards; monitors and facilitates internal communications; disseminates necessary information to appropriate parties; develops the organization’s image within local community.

An employee demonstrating this competency:

     Communicating the firm’s culture and values

  • Articulates the firm’s culture, values and goals and inspires others with that vision.
  • Utilizes HR team and senior employees to establish role models for others behaviours and attitudes.
  • Assures the development of clear and focused letters, newsletters, memos, etc. to inform employees of programmes and organisational objectives
  • Monitors internal communications to ensure that the firm’s goals, mission and values are represented.

    Internal Communications

  • Manages internal communications to help employees understand their roles and responsibilities in meeting and exceeding the expectations of customers, owners and employees.
  • Educates management and employees to understand their role and responsibility for internal communications.
  • Analyses, categorizes and circulates information to others.
  • Assures that information is communicated at a level appropriate for the audience.
  • Oversees that all employee have access to relevant company and customer communications.

    Community Relations

  • Works with management team to promote the organisation as a reputable and respectful employer in the local community
  • Pro-actively develops relationships with organisations in the local community to provide humanitarian assistance when needed.

Importance of This Competency

This competency, the first strategic competency of five under the category of Human Resources Leadership, revolves around the organisation’s values and culture, and places the Human Resources function clearly at the helm in promoting these success characteristics.

General Considerations in Developing This Competency

The most obvious way to begin to develop this competency is to ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate our company’s values and culture in your day-to-day interactions. If you are seen to demonstrate these characteristics yourself, then you will be able to start to practice the skills and other behaviours that will help you to communicate and educate others in their importance, value and application – you will be seen as a credible source of information on these issues.

Practicing This Competency

    As a Team Member

  • Look for ways to incorporate values and culture characteristics in your daily interactions, and be consistent in their implementation.
  • Look for ways to reinforce these characteristics in other communication pieces (e.g. employee newsletters, notice boards, etc.).
  • Review other internal communication documents (e.g. memos and letters) to make sure that the message is consistent with these characteristics.
  • Look for ways to make information more accessible and relevant to employees.
  • Provide feedback and examples to your team leader of situations in which the culture and value characteristics are being demonstrated (or not demonstrated).
  • Look for humanitarian opportunities in the local community for the company and employees to connect with and support.

    As Team Leader

  • Make sure that you demonstrate the value and culture characteristics with your own team (ask your team for feedback) – practice what you preach!
  • Recognize and encourage behaviors in your team members that demonstrate these characteristics.
  • Identify opportunities to coach other managers and supervisors in ‘walking the talk’ – coach and provide feedback where necessary.
  • Review internal correspondence and communication materials to make sure that all written materials also ‘walk the talk’.
  • Look for additional methods of increasing communications within the firm, encouraging ‘two-way’ communications and open dialogues that move beyond curt email messages.
  • Encourage relationships with local organizations and other activities and behaviors that demonstrate value and culture characteristics within the context of the larger, local community.

Obtaining Feedback

  • After sending out a significant report or memo, contact people and ask for feedback on it. Try to find out how many people read it and remembered it and what they thought of it.
  • If you use voice mail or e-mail as part of your work, ask co-workers about how effectively you use these communication vehicles and what you can do to improve your effectiveness in communicating.
  • Ask colleagues for specific feedback on the degree to which they believe you effectively model organization’s values and culture.

Learning from Experts

  • Observe the communication behavior of a skilled leader. Look at the frequency, style, and format of this person’s communications. If possible, ask this person about his/her thinking in planning particular communications.
  • Before sending out an important communication, ask for suggestions from someone strong in communication skills.

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

  • If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:
  • Model this competency by sharing information and by crafting clear, concise messages addressing the needs of the audience.
  • Provide assignments that involve drafting memos, reports, or other communications. Provide constructive feedback on the communications.
  • Help this person think through the communication vehicles and messages needed by a department or team of which he/she is a part.
  • Assign this person to a team or task force headed by someone who demonstrates a high level of attention to communication.

Sample Development Goals

  • By June 12, I will make recommendations to the Planning Team on ways we should communicate the new operational plan to the Division.
  • By July 1, I will distribute a memo to all department heads summarizing the work of the Waste Reduction Team. A week later, I will call six of the department heads and ask for feedback on this memo.

 External resources (books, online and self-study courses) for developing this competencies. Roadmaps for developing seventeen additional competencies are contained in Workitect’s Resource Guide for Developing Competencies, a companion to Workitect’s Competency Development Guide.                                   

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Add Competencies to Performance Reviews

 

Performance Review

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”)
50%-90%
• “What” of performance
• Quantitative: Tied to unit goals
• Short time frame: One year, past
performance
• Reward oriented

COMPETENCIES (“pay for skill”)
10%-50%
• “How” of performance
• More qualitative
• Longer time frame: Future
performance in present and future jobs
• Development (behavior change)
oriented

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 easily 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 average 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. Diagnosis 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 important 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 activities with their managers. Read about organizational issues.  A Blueprint for Competency-Based Performance Management

Also:
Make Performance Management a Positive Experience

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

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Criteria for a Good Competency Model

In our consulting practice, I speak with many HR executives who tell me about the competency models they have developed in their organization and about the impact those models have had on their HR practices and the organization as a whole. Many say that they have already created competency models that they are either happy with or want to improve. And some want to trash what they have done and start over, or build models for the first time.

POPULAR MODEL-BUILDING PRACTICES

For those who have already created models, when asked to describe the process they used, many HR professionals say that the models were created by:

  1. Interviewing the CEO, other executives, incumbents of the position being modeled and their managers and asking for their opinion as to the competencies required by employees to carry out the organization’s strategic plan. The focus of the model is often on managers in the organization, and may be referred to as the leadership model.
  2. Collecting the same or similar information in a meeting or series of meetings or focus groups.
  3. Other means, such as card-sorting, surveys, computer selection, off-the shelf models, adaptations of job descriptions, self assessments by employees, etc.
  4. A combination of the above.

Models created using these methods often achieve their intended purpose. Competencies are incorporated into performance management, selection, training, and other HR applications. But, they are “basic” models. They, and the applications that are developed, are based on the opinions of various people about competencies required for specific jobs. They are not determined using a validated, research-based analysis of superior performers. There is a better way, a way that produces a far greater ROI for a model-building project

A GOOD COMPETENCY MODEL – UNBIASED & ACCURATE

I believe that the best methodology for building job competency models is Job Competence Assessment (JCA), developed in the 1970’s by Dr. David McClelland, a pioneer in motivation and competency research and testing at Harvard, and by 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 the study, such as behavioral event interviews and expert panels, are designed to get beneath mere opinions about superior performance and superior performers. Since each organization has its own culture, mission, and ways of doing business, performance in one organization may require competencies that are different than those required in another organization. This is the reason that off-the-shelf models may not be useful.

These are the phases of this model-building methodology:

CriteriaModel

We have covered several of these specific steps in previous blogs and will examine additional ones in future blogs. A detailed description of the JCA methodology is provided in Competence At Work, a book by Spencer & Spencer and on pages 5-7 of Integrating Key Human Resource Processes, a 10-page booklet that describes competencies and how to create an integrated human resource system with applications for selection, succession planning, career pathing, performance management, and training.

In summary, JCA is an accurate, unbiased approach to predicting job performance and success. It is characterized by its rigorousness and yet its accessibility to managers and HR professionals with little or no background in statistics and competency research, the JCA methodology enables you to match the right people to the right jobs.

____________________________________________________________________________
REVIEW OF THE BASICS

What is a Competency?
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.

What is a Competency Model? together describe successful performance for a particular job or role, in a particular organization.
Examples:
Account Representative (Distribution company)
Executives (Manufacturing company)
Marketing Representative (Insurance company)
Project Manager (High Tech)

_____________________________________________________________________________

DISCUSSION QUESTION
What methodology have you used to build models and applications and how would you rate its effectiveness? What did you learn and what might you do differently next time?
_____________________________________________________________________________

Join LinkedIn's Competency-Based Talent Management group

An adaptation of the JCA methodology is used in Workitect’s consulting practice and is taught in our Building Competency Models workshop scheduled for March 30-31, 2017 in Ft. Lauderdale.  It is also influences the content of our products, including the Competency Development GuideCompetency Interview Guides, and Competency Dictionary.

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Roadmap to Business Partnering for HR Professionals

Business Meeting --- Image by © 2/Ocean/Corbis

The potential for Human Resources to play a vital business role has, on occasion, been underestimated. In developing the Human Resources competency model, we were conscious of making sure that the Human Resources function is seen as an equal business partner in the running of an organization.

This competency, the first strategic competency of four under the category of Business Partnering, therefore positions the Human Resources function in its critical partnering role in helping the organization to achieve its business and financial objectives, by aligning Human Resources initiatives with those of the firm and by demonstrating and reinforcing the value of our people.HR_Cvr_CompetenciesChartThe Competency of BUSINESS & INTERNAL CUSTOMER ORIENTATION

Definition: Ensures Human Resources activities are in keeping with philosophical and operational initiatives of the organization; takes a lead role in the achievement of business objectives and strategies; ties Human Resources objectives with business and financial objectives; shows others the value of people.

An employee demonstrating this competency:

HR’s link to the organization

  • Identifies synergies between HR and other departments.
  • Links HR to the organization’s culture, mission, goals and values.
  • Aligns and integrates all Human Resources strategies with the corporate/functional strategies and operational initiatives of the organization.

HR as a strategic partner

  • Demonstrates how HR affects the organization’s bottom line.
  • Explains to management the value HR brings to the organization.
  • Educates business partners to have an integrated, systematic, comprehensive and visible long term commitment to people.
  • Plays a clear and visible role in management.
  • Acts as a liaison between departments, management, and key stakeholders.

Strategic problem solving

  • Solves HR problems through reasoning and analytical skills.
  • Offers HR solutions to personal, departmental and organizational problems using applicable resources.
  • Analyzes and brainstorms to create developmental and/or change initiatives for customer.
  • Encourages customers to envision the future impacts and outcomes of their decisions.

Internal customer relationship management

  • Assumes the viewpoint of the customer and adopts customer problems as one’s own problems.
  • Ensure flexibility in assuming different roles for different customers.
  • Engages customers on an emotional and intellectual level.
  • Maintains a neutral standpoint in customer disputes.
  • Manages and closely monitors customer expectations and changing needs and updates approaches based on feedback.
  • Restates customer concerns in simple and easily understood terms.
  • Works with customers on identifying multiple alternative solutions to common issues.

General Considerations in Developing This Competency

The best way to develop this competency is to become interested in and involved with the other operating departments, the internal customers of Human Resources, and to begin to demonstrate ways in which strategic involvement of Human Resources as part of the planning process can add value to their operations. By making yourself valuable to your internal customers, you will be able to influence decisions at a higher level, to the benefit of the operation and our people.

Practicing This Competency

As a Team Member

  • Look for synergies between this and other departments – how can you work together for the better outcome of everyone involved.
  • Look for ways to align any activities in Human Resources with corporate and unit strategies, and with the ongoing initiatives of operating departments.
  • Use every opportunity to explain the value of people in terms of the other person’s operation and their financial and operational goals.
  • Be visible in the departments and be ready to get involved where necessary.
  • Think of yourself as a consultant and do what you can to learn about the workings of the departments of your internal customers – an informed and educated consultant is a valuable and sought-after consultant!
  • Be prepared to recommend change and offer solutions, and be ready to challenge the solutions of your internal customers if they have avoidable, negative outcomes in the future.
  • Treat your internal customer with as much care and with as much interest as the organization treats its external customer – be prepared to listen and learn and adjust your communication strategy according to each person.
  • Be ready to play the liaison role between departments, providing an objective and fair assessment of situations, wherever possible from the point of view of the people you are working with.

As a Team Leader

  • Encourage your team members to build relationships with key people in other departments that are based on trust and mutual respect.
  • Help to develop integrity in each of your team members, so that internal customers actively seek out you and your team members to help them solve problems (and more importantly, plan to prevent them in the first place!).
  • Look for ways to involve members of your team in other departments (e.g. in planning meetings, during restructuring, in work reorganization, etc.).
  • Be ready to proactively address potential problem situations before they become bigger problems.
  • Constantly seek out feedback from internal customers to evaluate how Human Resources is doing in terms of servicing its internal customer needs (use feedback from the Employee Opinion Survey as a starting point).
  • Talk about the value of people in terms of the financial, business and operational goals of the organization – good Human Resources practices = good business sense!

Obtaining Feedback

  • Prepare a set of goals for your own work or for your HR team. Show the goals to someone whose judgment you respect. Ask if the goals represent the right balance between being challenging and being achievable.
  • Share your goals with other department heads. Do your goals help accomplish their goals? If they do not, how can yours be modified to better align with their goals?
  • Periodically meet with your key internal customers to review the service you have been providing and identify ways to improve it.
  • Periodically survey your internal customers to learn how satisfied they are with your department’s service. Create a survey that includes both quantifiable ratings and open-ended questions.
  • Identify what work processes or assignments are currently hindering your department’s ability to provide excellent service to its customers. Develop ideas for changing the work processes or assignments and discuss them with your internal customers.

Learning from Experts

  • Interview someone who has achieved impressive results. This could be someone at your hotel or someone at another hotel, someone in HR or in another department. Ask this person what he/she does to achieve results. Ask the person to describe in detail what he/she did to achieve one or two impressive results. Ask about planning, setting goals, and dealing with obstacles.
  • Interview individuals with a reputation for providing excellent service to their internal customers. Find out what these individuals did to improve their service to their customers.

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:

  • Model this competency by publicly setting challenging but achievable goals for your department. Demonstrate the alignment with the firm’s strategies.
  • Ask the person to prepare a set of personal work-related goals for the next 3-6 months. Review the goals with this person and provide feedback and suggestions. Set up a procedure for the person to regularly meet with you or keep you informed about progress toward the goals.
  • Provide assignments that involve having the person work closely with someone who is strong in achieving quantifiable business results.
  • Provide feedback and suggestions to help improve internal customer service.
  • Demonstrate through your own actions a commitment to providing excellent service.
  • Ask this person what you can do to enable him/her to do a better job of focusing on internal customer service.
  • Observe this person in interactions with key internal or external customers and provide specific, constructive feedback.
  • Recognize and reward behavior that demonstrates a commitment to internal customers.

Sample Development Goals

  • By January 16, I will prepare a set of personal work-related goals for the first quarter and review these goals with my manager.
  • By February 1, I will develop 3-6 key measures of my work progress. I will plot each of these measures on a graph displayed in my office.
  • By March 4, I will ensure that the Service Excellence Team that I lead has developed a set of goals for the second quarter and an action plan with specific tasks, milestones, and accountabilities. By June 30, the team will meet all of its goals.
  • By February 15, I will meet with each of my department’s 5 key internal customers. I will ask how satisfied they are with the service we are providing and what we can do to improve it.
  • By March 8, I will meet with Lila Welch to learn what her department has done to provide excellent service to its internal customers. From this conversation, I will develop a list of specific ideas to consider for application in my department.
  • By April 30, I will complete a self-study course in customer service skills and identify a list of ideas to apply in my own department.

HR_ResourceGuide_SpiralCvr_612x792 External resources (books, online and self-study courses) for developing this competencies. Roadmaps for developing seventeen additional competencies are contained in Workitect’s Resource Guide for Developing Competencies, a companion to Workitect’s Competency Development Guide.                                   

SHRM HR Competency Model – Development of this competency would develop the SHRM competency of CONSULTATION with impact on BUSINESS ACUMEN, COMMUNICATION, and GLOBAL & CULTURAL EFFECTIVENESS.  

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