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


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.                                   

Share Button

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”)
• “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 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

Make Performance Management a Positive Experience

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

Share Button

Criteria for an Effective 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.


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


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:

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.


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.
Account Representative (Distribution company)
Executives (Manufacturing company)
Marketing Representative (Insurance company)
Project Manager (High Tech)


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.  It is also influences the content of our products, including the Competency Development GuideCompetency Interview Guides, and Competency Dictionary.

Share Button

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.  

Share Button

It’s your career development – so who should be in the driver’s seat?


In a growing economy or in a down economy, there is always a need for employees at all levels to be fully competent and motivated. Global competition, rapidly changing technology, and increasing customer expectations are demanding more of our organizations and the people within them. In addition, our educational systems appear to not be producing enough prospective employees with the right skills and knowledge needed by business. It is clear that the top performing organizations of the future will have a sound strategy and competent and talented “human resources” who are committed to the goals of the organization.

What are the implications for you as a member of the workforce? There is a way for you to impact several extremely important parts of your work life—your everyday job performance, the relationships with your co-workers, bosses, subordinates and preparedness for other roles and careers. You can do this by enhancing and developing core competencies, abilities, capabilities, etc. There are many ways to do this.

  • By practicing the competency
  • Obtaining feedback
  • Learning from experts
  • Coaching from others
  • Setting development goals
  • Utilizing learning resources, such as books, courses, seminars, and e-learning program


If the word “competency” is not yet a familiar one in your organization, it probably will be within the near future. More and more organizations are developing job competency models, “blueprints” of jobs that list the skills, knowledge, attitudes, motives, etc. that characterize superior performance. These models have a variety of uses, one being a guide for employee development.

Why are job competency modeling popular? Because they are developed by studying what superior performers actually do on a job, rather than relying on theories of what people “think” constitutes superior performance. In other words, they are practical, “real world” and based on fact—not subjectivity. They can also identify the competencies that every incumbent must possess to survive in a position, i.e. the “threshold” competencies that lead to average performance. But the really key contribution is to identify the few competencies that differentiate superior performance from average performance. With this information, organizations can change their human resource processes to select, develop and reward superior performers – which leads directly to increased sales and productivity, reduced costs and the achievement of the organization’s strategic and tactical objectives.

For example, if an organization can pinpoint the competencies demonstrated by their top sales people (e.g. the top 20% who produce 80% of the revenue), it can substantially increase sales by selecting and developing a sales force with the appropriate competencies.

As individuals, most of us strive for superior performance, motivated by the desire to excel, to be recognized or rewarded. This book provides guidance to help you be the superior performer your organization is looking for, with the personal benefits that accompany that level of performance.


Most supervisors are as uneasy about the performance management and career development process as are their employees who are on the “receiving” end. Having a structure and framework for assessing an employee’s strengths and developmental needs removes some of the subjectivity from coaching discussions. More importantly, asking employees to self-assess their competency development needs with the help of feedback from others, helps reduce defensiveness and creates a more constructive environment for developmental discussions.

More organizations are putting the responsibility for career development precisely where it should be: in the hands of the individual employee. But employees still need support and coaching from others in the organization. Although the coaching role is usually performed by the employee’s immediate supervisor, it can also be played by mentors, team leaders, project managers and other employees. One of the most underutilized resources in organizations today are the experienced, long-service, “journeymen” and “journeywomen” who have served as superior performers in a position and can coach others to superior performance, particularly with regard to the technical proficiency of a particular position. This coaching role can also be performed by retirees who would welcome the opportunity to continue to play a meaningful role, even on a part-time, contract basis.

CDG copyWorkitect’s Competency Development Guide is a resource guide for developing competencies. Tips for developing thirty-five key competencies are outlined along with instructions on how to identify the competencies needing development.

Share Button

Develop a Competency-Based Career Pathing Process

Career StreamCareer pathing in its elaborated form is a sophisticated method of developing future managers through the careful assignment of an individual to positions that provide him or her with opportunities for developing the competencies needed for higher-level positions. Workitect’s approach to career pathing combines an analysis of positions in terms of both the tasks and the competencies needed for effective performance. The combined approach is essential for each of the jobs in a career path, because sharp discontinuities sometimes exist between the competencies demanded in one job and those demanded in another in the same career path.

Career pathing involves making series of job-person matches that enable the person to grow into greater levels of responsibility, thus assuring the organization of the talent it requires for maximum productivity. Optimal job-person matching is not a simple matter—the attributes of both the job (duties and responsibilities—tasks) and the person (knowledge, skills, traits—competencies) must be taken into account. Our research shows that the more complex the job, the more difficult it is to identify the critical tasks and competencies related to success.   To use an extreme example, assembly-line tasks may be well circumscribed, and the workers’ necessary knowledge and skills defined briefly: the competencies that make the difference between satisfactory and unsatisfactory performance are limited and highly task-specific. By contrast, in professional and managerial jobs, the competencies that make the difference between minimal and outstanding performance tend to be much more generic than task-specific; because of this, the competencies are harder to identify than are those of manual laborers. Nevertheless, these competencies must be considered when making career pathing decisions involving professional and managerial.

Most career pathing systems used by organizations consider only task-specific job requirements in making job-person matches; when such systems do consider generic personal characteristics beyond knowledge and skills, these characteristics are usually vaguely defined, difficult to assess, and not demonstrably related to outstanding performance. By contrast, Workitect’s competency-based career path analysis avoids these problems. In addition to looking at the requirements for acceptable performance of the specific job tasks, it examines and documents the more general characteristics of outstanding performers—characteristics that are not covered by the analysis of tasks. Moreover, Workitect examines different levels of jobs within an organization, in order to determine both the task and the competency requirements of target jobs and of jobs that feed new talent into the target jobs (“feeder jobs’).

Understanding the task and competency requirements of various jobs helps clarify human resource planning. Although two jobs may have similar task requirements, there may be little overlap in the competencies needed for effective performance. The most commonly cited example of this phenomenon is the transition from salesperson to sales manager—people in these two jobs share tasks, yet the sales-management position demands competencies that are very different from those required by the salesperson’s job.

In a competency-based career pathing system, the job-task analysis is only part of the picture; it thus contrasts with traditional approaches to career pathing, in which task analysis makes up the entire picture. Naturally, it is important to determine how familiar an individual is with the tasks of a target position, since even if the person has all the characteristics necessary to be a superior performer, it may take him or her considerable time to master particular tasks. But from an organization systems perspective, any approach based exclusively on task requirements omits a critical part of job performance—characteristics of the individual who performs the job in an outstanding manner. Indeed, it is this factor that is the most powerful predictor of a person’s performance in high-level jobs.  Download this report about the entire process of competency-based succession planning.   

The Process

The major steps in developing a competency-based career pathing system are:

  1. Put together a resource panel of experts on the target and feeder jobs, who will set direction and specify the job performance criteria that determine who the outstanding performers are.
  2. Generate task and characteristics, through the resource panel, and survey job incumbents to obtain their perceptions of which job tasks and personal attributes contribute to success in the target job.
  3. Identify top performers in the target and feeder jobs, using performance criteria specified by the panel.
  4. Conduct in-depth interviews with both superior and average incumbents in target and feeder jobs, in order to find out what they do and how they do it.
  5. Develop a task analysis from the interviews, focusing on these tasks and deemed most important by superior performers.
  6. Develop a competency model of people in the target and the feeder jobs, identifying the competencies that all job performers need, but focusing on those competencies that make the biggest contribution to outstanding performance.
  7. Analyze career paths by combining the survey and interview results for target and feeder jobs.
  8. Implement the career pathing system through a number of options:
    –  Computer-based task and competencies inventories
    –  Performance appraisal linked to new job opportunities.
    –  Systematic counseling.
    –  Career development and related training programs.

The Products
The products of a competency-based career pathing system include:

  1. A description of the tasks required by target and feeder jobs, broken down by job families.
  2. A competency model and individual profiles of the outstanding job performers in each target and feeder job.
  3. Behavioral descriptions of each competency in the model.
  4. An analysis of job tasks in terms of the competencies that are required to perform them
  5. Performance indicators that provide the material for a competency-based evaluation program and a computerized skills bank.
  6. A career map of the organization identifying which jobs are the key feeders to higher-level positions.
  7. Recommendations for training in or selection for each competency in the model.
  8. Recommendations for developing a computer-based human resource management system that incorporates the findings of the task, competency, and career path analysis.

The objective of succession planning is to provide senior management with a system for providing and identifying a pool of ready replacements for key jobs, and to provide professionals with a clearly defined career path and a process to optimize their advancement. We help organizations develop and implement these systems.

Effective talent management, talent development, and career lanning contribute directly to the financial performance of an organization. The focus of talent management should be on assessing the competencies the organization needs to implement its strategy, and planning for the recruitment, selection, development, and management of that critical talent. Workitect consultants develop competency frameworks, models, and integrated applications that align with business strategy. Learn more.

Share Button

How to develop the competency of Decisiveness

CDG_HorizontalBannerLeaders, especially those in senior management, need Decisiveness. They must be able to make high stakes decisions, such as whether to accept a multi-million dollar deal, restructure the organization, cancel a venture that is not going well, shut down a plant, or eliminate a large number of jobs. Decisiveness does not mean making decisions impulsively or intuitively; it does mean willingness to step up to a decision when a decision is needed.

Definition: Willingness to make difficult decisions in a timely manner.

  1. Is willing to make decisions in difficult or ambiguous situations, when time is critical
  2. Takes charge of a group when it is necessary to facilitate change, overcome an impasse, face issues, or ensure that decisions are made
  3. Makes tough decisions (e.g., closing a facility, reducing staff, accepting or rejecting a high-stakes deal)

General Considerations in Developing this Competency

One of the best ways to learn this competency is to be thrust into a situation where time-critical decisions are required, and you must make the best decisions you can, under pressure. It may also help to work closely with a leader who demonstrates Decisiveness, to see first hand how this person makes decisions.

Another approach is to reflect on your own behavior. Think of situations in which you needed to make a decision. What did you do? Did you act decisively? Would you handle this situation the same way today? What would you do differently?

Practicing this Competency

  • Volunteer for assignments in which you will be responsible for making decisions.
  • Practice using a simple analytical process in making decisions: Answer these questions:

1) What are the criteria that should be considered in making this decision?

2) What are the alternatives?

3) For each alternative:

  • What are the positive results if things go well?
  • Can you quantify the benefits of a positive outcome?
  • What are the possible risks? What could go wrong?
  • Can you quantify the costs of a negative outcome?
  • What is the probability of a positive outcome?
  • Look for opportunities to take charge of a group to overcome an impasse, ensure that the group faces an issue, or change the direction in which the group is moving.

Obtaining Feedback

Ask someone to observe you over a one-month period and give you feedback regarding decisiveness. Ask this person to point out when you are demonstrating Decisiveness effectively, when you are making decisions too hastily, and when you need to be more decisive.

Learning from Experts

If you have the opportunity to work closely with a decisive leader, observe this person’s decision making behavior. How does this person make decisions?

Interview a leader who is strong in Decisiveness. Ask the person to talk about several situations in which he/she had to make a decision. Ask the person to walk you through each situation. Find out what the person did, said, and thought, in the process of making each decision. Reflect on what you have heard. What behaviors could you benefit from by adopting?

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

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

  • Give the person ongoing, constructive feedback about behavior in decision making situations.
  • Empower this person to make decisions in his/her area of work.
  • Provide assignments that involve decision making.
  • Be supportive when a decision does not work out. Decisive people do not always make decisions that work out as planned. Rather than criticize the employee, debrief the situation with the employee to help identify what can be learned from it.

Sample Development Goals

By December 1, I will interview Mary Byrne to learn how she makes decisions.

At the next meeting of the Production Team, I will intervene quickly if the group starts to go off track. Afterwards, I will ask two team members for feedback on my behavior.

On March 1, I will review the proposals from different vendors and make a decision on
that day.

Within one week, I will confront Deborah about her performance problem and begin implementing the disciplinary process.


Resources for developing this competency are listed in the Competency Development Guide.  Organizations can provide every employee with the content of the Competency  Development Guide, and customize it to their needs, through the purchase of an intellectual property license.

Workitect is a leading provider of competency-based talent development systems, tools and programs. We use “job competency assessment” to identify the characteristics of superior performers in key jobs in an organization. These characteristics, or competencies, become “blueprints” for outstanding job performance. Competencies include personal characteristics, motives, knowledge, and behavioral skills. Job competency models are the foundation of an integrated talent management system that includes selection, performance management, succession planning, and leadership development. Contact our experienced consultants to learn how we can improve all areas of your talent management processes.

Share Button

Advantages of Multiple Models and One-Size-Fits-All Competency Models

OneSizeFitsAll_v2When competency models are needed in an organization with many different jobs, there are two basic strategies for model building: “one-size-fits-all” approaches and multiple model approaches. I will describe these two approaches as well as intermediate approaches.

The first basic strategy, one-size-fits-all, involves creating a single competency model with one set of competencies applicable to all jobs. Like most other competency models, a one-size-fits-all model usually comprises eight to fifteen competencies needed for effectiveness in a broad job category, such as all management positions. The competencies in such a model must be general skills, traits, and values, not job-specific skills.

The one-size-fits-all approach is often used when upper management wants to drive organizational change by sending a strong message about the values and skills needed for the future. This approach is also used when upper management or HR prefers simple solutions, or when the HR staff want to quickly implement a program that will have broad impact.

The one-size-fits-all approach has several advantages. First, it provides a simple, clear message to everyone about what is important. Second, once developed, the model and applications based on the model are applicable to many employees. For example, one “360 feedback” instrument can be used with everyone whose job is included in the model. Finally, the competency model promotes the development of a common language for describing important skills and characteristics.

But the one-size-fits-all approach also has significant disadvantages. One-size-fits-all models often describe values that are espoused or wished for, rather than describing what it truly takes to be effective in a job. I have seen many organizations with a conspicuous lack of teamwork include a “Teamwork” competency in a one-size-fits-all model, even though superior performers are more likely to need political savvy and a “thick skin.” Another disadvantage is that employees may believe that the model does not really apply to their own job. They may become skeptical or even cynical about the model. Finally, one-size fits-all models are not as useful as job-specific models in guiding selection and development for a particular job.

The other strategy for developing models for people in a range of jobs is to plan to build multiple competency models from a common set of generic competencies. The first step is to identify a set of 25 to 35 “building block” competencies to be used for constructing all job models. In applying this strategy, I try to meet with senior management and HR staff to customize a generic competency dictionary for use in this organization. Customization often involves changing some of the generic competency names and the language used in the definitions and behavioral descriptors, so that the language is consistent with concepts and terminology that are already used in the organization.

The next step is to hold a resource panel or a meeting with subject matter experts, to gather data to guide the decision about which generic competencies to include in the model for a particular job. Once the competencies for that job are identified, the panel can help select and modify behavioral descriptors from the generic dictionary, to customize the description of how each competency needs to be demonstrated in that job. This process is repeated for each job requiring a competency model. Each competency model includes a subset of the generic competencies and may also include unique, job-specific technical competencies.

The multiple model approach is most likely to be used when competency models are needed for many different jobs and when jobs have few features in common. This approach is especially useful when the planned applications include careful matching of individuals to jobs, for selection, career planning, and succession planning.

The multiple model approach has several advantages. First, because of its flexibility, the approach facilitates development of a set of competency models that encompass the jobs of all or most employees. Second, because the approach generates competency models tailored for each job, the models have high face validity and credibility. A third advantage of this approach is that it facilitates comparison of the requirements for different jobs – to design a compensation program or to plan career paths. When the organization needs to select staff, the multiple model approach helps identify which competencies are essential and desirable for a particular position.

The primary disadvantage of the multiple model approach is its complexity. For each job there is a different competency model, and the different models may generate a corresponding need for different competency assessment forms, selection interview guides, performance appraisal forms, and so on. The multiple model approach is likely to create administrative work for HR staff. To deal with this complexity, some organizations use software programs that help identify the competencies for a job and manage assessments and other HR applications based on the models. Another disadvantage of the multiple model approach is that because no competencies are common to all jobs, top management cannot use this approach to send a strong message about values and skills that are essential for the future.

Some organizations have adopted approaches that combine elements of the one-size-fits-all approach with the multiple model approach. These organizations typically identify a small set of core competencies, such as “Customer Focus” and “Initiative,” that apply to all jobs but supplement the core set with additional, job-specific competencies. The core competencies send a message about shared values for the future, while the additional competencies ensure that each competency model truly describes the requirements for that job. The main disadvantage of intermediate approaches is that they tend to result in competency models with larger numbers of competencies than would be the case using either the one-size-fits-all approach or the multiple model approach.

The bottom line about job competency models
Planning the development of competency models is an exercise in practical problem solving. There are alternative methods for collecting and analyzing data, for deciding what to include in the model, and for formatting the model and its behavioral descriptors. The choices among the alternatives should depend on goals of key stakeholders, the needs of key users, the budget and time available to develop the model, and the preferred styles of the model building team.

What makes a good competency model? The model must meet the needs of its key users. Each competency should be conceptually coherent and different from the other competencies. The behavioral descriptors should be clearly and crisply worded. The model should also be parsimonious; including too many competencies and behavioral descriptors makes a model ponderous to read and use. Finally, a good model is often supplemented with components that will add value for an intended HR application.

When planning the development of a competency model or models, there are practical considerations that affect the design of the project, the format and content of the competency model, and the success of the project’s implementation. The following seven questions may be useful to Human Resouces professionals responsible for planning and implementation:
1. What HR application should be included in the initial model building project?
2. What will the key users of the model need from it?
3. How should key stakeholders be involved?
4. How extensive should the data collection be?
5. How should research be balanced with intuitive approaches?
6. What format of behavioral descriptors will best suit the application?
7. How can additional, future competency models be accomodated?

This blog addresses question #7. Each question is addressed in Key Questions to Answer before Building Competency Models, Adapted From Practical Questions for HR Professionals Who Are Building Competency Models—a Consultant’s Experience By Dr. Richard S. Mansfield.

Choosing the correct model type is covered in the Building Competency Models workshop, next scheduled for July 18-20, 2017 in Washington, DC and November 7-9 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Contact Workitect for help in planning, building, and implementing job competency models and competency-based talent management applications.

LinkedIn&CBTM_logoJoin LikedIn’s Competency-Based Talent Management group for further discussion on this topic.


Share Button

Build your own job competency models

Many companies are building their own competency models without the help (& expense) of external consultants.

More than 1,000 HR professionals have attended a three-day workshop and learned how to use a six-step process that includes the use of templates that guide the collection and coding of data necessary to build competency models, frameworks, and HR applications. Competency models, done right, connect human resource strategies with business strategies.

Details: The next workshop will be conducted on July 18-20 in Washington, DC and November 7-9, 2017 in Ft. Lauderdale.
                        Program Brochure                Feedback from Participants

Our methodology for building models is based on the original job competence assessment (JCA) methodology developed in the 1970’s by Dr. David McClelland, a pioneer in competency research and testing, and by consultants at McBer and Company.

Organizations that buy off-the-shelf models or use a methodology similar to that used to write job descriptions are missing out on the most significant benefit of competency models. Models customized to an organization are based on analyses of superior performers in that organization, with its unique culture, ways of doing business, and business strategy. The models paint a picture of what success looks like in that particular organization. Off-the-shelf models and those developed by sorting cards, brainstorming, or reading the latest business book cannot do that. Why not learn how to build models the right way? If you don’t, all of the HR applications you develop that are based on those models will be flawed.

This is the six-step process that is taught in this workshop.


As a result of attending this workshop, participants are able to:

  • Plan a competency modeling project
  • Communicate and gain support for the project
  • Chose from alternative methods for building single competency models and one-size-fits-all models
  • Build models for multiple jobs in an organization
  • Use resource panels to collect data
  • Conduct structured key event interviews
  • Analyze and code interview transcripts, and write job models
  • Develop HR applications for talent management, assessment, selection, succession planning, development, and performance management
  • Use Workitect’s licensed competency dictionary (purchased separately)
  • Obtain 19.25 credits for SHRM and HRCI certification
  • Create competency models and competency-based talent management applications, including those for:

Performance Management: assess competencies and results side by side, reminding employees that how they do things is as important as what they do.
Training and Development: use competencies to identify gaps in each employee’s capabilities so these gaps can be remedied, and provide individuals with detailed road maps for increasing their capabilities incrementally.
Staffing: use competencies to hire, place and promote people with the right capabilities to help the organization gain competitive advantage.
Compensation: both competencies and results impact pay decisions to reward performance and competency development.
Succession Planning & Talent Management: identify the competency requirements for critical jobs, assess candidate competencies, and evaluate possible job-person matches.

What methodology are you using to build models in your organization? How would you rate the impact it has had on your organization?

Let Us Help You
Workitect is a leading provider of competency-based talent development systems, tools and programs. We use “job competency assessment” to identify the characteristics of superior performers in key jobs in an organization. These characteristics, or competencies, become “blueprints” for outstanding job performance. Competencies include personal characteristics, motives, knowledge, and behavioral skills. Job competency models are the foundation of an integrated talent management system that includes selection, performance management, succession planning, and leadership development. Contact our experienced consultants to learn how we can improve all areas of your talent management processes.

More information about the Building Competency Models workshop.

Join LinkedIn's Competency-Based Talent Management group

Join LikedIn’s Competency-Based Talent Management group for further discussion on this topic.

Share Button

Seven Factors to Consider before Building Competency Models

7-FactorsJob competency models describe what superior performers actually do on a job that produces superior results. Armed with this information, selection, retention, training, succession planning and performance management systems can be integrated and designed that will attract, develop and retain top performers.

Superior performance that produces superior results means higher sales, productivity and profits. And everything can be measured. Which explains why many organizations have embraced competency-based talent management. It has provided human resource departments with an opportunity to demonstrate to line management that HR is able to “add value” that improves organizational performance.

However, there are several factors to consider before attempting to develop and implement a competency framework for talent management – factors that can make or break your best efforts.

1. Accept or modify the terminology and educate the users
The language that consultants use to describe competency systems is often confusing, misleading and filled with jargon. It starts with the definition of competencies.

A competency is a “skill, knowledge, motive, attitude, or personal characteristic that causes or predicts outstanding performance”. Most standard dictionaries, however, define competence and competency as “sufficient” or average performance as in “competent to stand trial”. Several HR directors have told me that, with the flip side of “competent” being “incompetent”, they are concerned that the image that competency systems raises for some people is that of incompetence, an implication that people are incompetent until receiving the benefit of competency modeling.

In truth, one of the purposes of competency technology is to help competent people become more competent – in areas where increased competence will produce superior performance. Each of us has strengths and areas where we can improve. Competency modeling just does a better job of identifying the specific competencies that drive superior performance and assessing the degree to which individuals have demonstrated those competencies. Our experience has been that once employees understand the concept and purpose of competency modeling, they accept it

A competency model does a better job of conveying the idea of superior performance because the word model means “something to be copied or imitated”. A job competency model, therefore, is a “blueprint” for all current and prospective job holders to copy, that includes a list of competencies that are required for superior performance. Competencies required for average performance, those required to just survive in a job, can also be spelled out in a job model.

Don’t expect everyone to immediately understand and appreciate the significance of competency modeling. Some may feel threatened by it. Go slow and educate people as you progress.

2. Think in terms of measurable payoffs.
The key question to ask yourself and others in your organization is: “what is superior performance worth?” This is easier to answer for some jobs than others, but there is an answer for every job. It first requires clarity about performance measures.

Since sales jobs have fairly clear measures, let’s look at sales jobs to illustrate the point. In one client’s organization, the average annual sales for all sales people were $3.0 million. The top sales people averaged $6.7 million in annual sales. Superior performance was worth $3.7 million in sales per sales person. Now translate this into the bell-shaped curve that depicts the distribution of performance ratings in many organizations. If you can, in fact, increase the percentage of superior performers and move the curve to the right, you will add economic value. Each sales position that is filled by a superior performer, in the case above, will add $3.7 million of sales per year.

***HR ValueChart4:c

Line executives understand this kind of thinking, where they often do not understand other HR approaches that are seen as having little impact on the bottom line.

3. Consider alternative approaches, including “doing-it-yourself”.
There are several ways to develop competency models. If you are doing more than one model, consider using an integrated approach that utilizes a competency dictionary, a common set of building block competencies, customizable for each job. Each model requires six to ten days of an internal or external consultant’s time, including facilitation of a focus group of high performers, interviews and model development.

Pick an external consultant to get you started who is willing to transfer their methodology to you and train your staff to carry on the work, and/or have them attend Workitect’s three-day Building Competency Models certification workshop.

For a large retail organization, we developed the first two models while training an internal HR manager to do additional models. She also designed and implemented selection and performance management applications based on the models. Structured interview questions were developed for each key position to help hiring managers assess and select candidates with the required competencies. Performance goals and results forms were also developed.

4. Start small, don’t oversell, but start with a critical job
The best way to demonstrate the payoffs of a competency approach is to start with a high impact job or one that is requiring attention, i.e. high turnover, impact on company’s sales, etc. Define the measurable outcomes of doing the model and specify applications.

For example, if you want to do a model of a software developer position, include an application of a selection system and interview guide that will allow you to expand the candidate pool and select superior performing software developers. Other applications can be added, but you should start with at least one visible and measurable outcome for the model. If outcomes and applications are not built in, competency modeling may be perceived as a HR exercise without payoffs.

There is a natural tendency to want to start with a low risk, low visibility position, in order to evaluate the process and the consultant. You are better off doing your homework and thoroughly checking references before selecting a consultant than to waste an opportunity to make an impact that can multiply through out the organization.

The ideal place to start is with the top executive group. Getting that group to develop a model for their position assures buy-in. They may have already gone through a strategic planning exercise that included identifying their organization’s “core competencies”. Developing a model helps them understand the job competency process and align it to the company’s strategy. For example, if innovation is a desired core competency, then a “fostering innovation” competency may be included in most models in order to drive the kind of change needed. An executive model is also needed for a good succession planning system.

5. “One size fits all” model or multiple models for multiple jobs
Some organizations use a generic off-the-shelf model for all manager positions. The model may have been one developed externally to cover all management jobs in all industries. Or it may have been developed internally by surveying senior executives asking them what they thought were the key characteristics required for success in their organization. Both approaches are inexpensive to adopt.

The prime disadvantage is lack of validity in a specific organization. The externally developed model may miss several key competencies that may really make the difference between superior and average performance in your unique culture. The internally developed list is often based on opinion and false assumptions and not on hard data. There can also be a communications gap. One CEO insisted that his organization hire and develop people “with a fire in their belly”. He didn’t mean finding people with ulcers, but it did take a competency model to validate his opinion and to clearly and concisely describe the qualities of people who were actually successful in that organization.

The opposite end of the spectrum is to do models for every job in an organization, which is costly and unnecessary. Job models are not necessary for every single job in an organization. Jobs can be grouped into like categories or levels. For example, ten different positions in an information systems department may be grouped into three levels.

For another manufacturing company, this is the process that was followed. Models for thirteen key management and professional positions at the plant and headquarters facilities were completed within a relatively short period of time.

6. Maximize the uses and benefits.
There are many possible applications and uses of competency models. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations go to the trouble of developing models, use them for one purpose and put them on the shelf. Here are some ways in which you can take full advantage of competency models. Use them to:

  • Integrate all HR and talent management processes using a common framework to select, train and reward people.
  • Assess internal and external candidates using assessment exercises, interviewing and instruments.
  • Develop a model for high performing teams. Select and train team members, use for team building.
  • Expand hiring and succession pool. Models may challenge assumptions about required competencies and identify alternative sources of talent
  • Retain key employees. Target retention of top performers. Employees who see expanded opportunities for growth are more likely to stay (also impacts morale).
  • Redesign jobs. Analysis of a job during model building can reveal ineffective job design plus suggested improvements from focus group.
  • Certify competence levels. Design certification programs to develop and reward competency development.
  • Design 360° feedback instruments and other developmental tools.
  • Determine staffing of merged organization. Keep the top performers in the key positions.
  • Create the learning organization. Use the models as templates to guide development.

7. High tech or low tech?
Competency technology has evolved to the point where you can now buy software programs to help construct competency models. These programs contain competency dictionaries, i.e. lists of competencies that can be used to analyze jobs. Some companies have designed their own customized programs for the same use. As we move closer to computerizing all paper transactions and making greater use of the intranet, this seems to make sense. The more we can use technology to simplify our lives, the better.

However, the process of developing competency models remains basically a human process. It requires interviewing, collecting and analyzing data, observing behavior, skillful facilitation of a focus group and drafting a model document. Judgment, ability to react and adapt to situations, to deal with conflict and resistance and uncover unexpected opportunities to improve an organization’s performance are required.

Using automated tools to assist in the application of competency technology is a good idea. Employees who can access competency models and developmental opportunities through a computer terminal feel more empowered and more in control of their destiny. Just be careful to not put the cart before the horse. Remember GIGO (garbage in, garbage out)? Develop good models and good systems before computerizing. Concentrate first on practicality and fit, not on technical sophistication.

The downside of outlining all the things one should consider before doing something is that it will have the unintended effect of discouraging the reader from doing the “something”. Hopefully, that will not be the case here because the payoffs for your organization and for you personally of undertaking a competency approach far outweigh the pain you may incur. Thoughtful consideration of the seven tips described above should minimize the pain and maximize the gain. Read more.. Insights: Superior Performers Produce Superior Results

Also included in Workitect’s Building Competency Models Workshop and applied in our consulting practice to help organizations develop job competency models and HR and talent management applications, including performance management, succession planning, assessment and selection, and training and development.
Share Button