The Right Way to Plan a Competency Modeling Project

Project Planning is Step 2 of Workitect’s process for building a job
competency models.

The key steps in planning a project to develop competency models and competency-base applications are:

  • Conducting a stakeholder analysis, identifying the people in the organization who have the most at stake in the development and implementation of competency models, and determining how and when they should be involved.
  • Preparing a draft project plan
  • Holding initial project planning meeting with project team to:
    • Review and revise draft project plan
    • Develop detailed plan with timeline and assigned responsibilities
    • Identify and agree on participants needed for each data collection activity
  • Creating and implementing a communication plan for people directly involved in the project and for all employees.

WORKSHEET FOR PLANNING A COMPETENCY MODELING PROJECT
This is a helpful checklist of key questions and issues related to the key steps that need to be addressed when launching a model-building project. It includes these sections.

  1. Scope of the Project
  2. Organizational Context
  3. Selecting the Approach to Model Building
  4. Building Support for the Project
  5. Deciding on Data Sources
  6. Staffing the Model Building Project
  7. Envisioning the Data Analysis and Model Building
  8. Reviewing and Revising the Model

In working through this worksheet, you may find that some questions are difficult to answer without a better understanding of areas such as the methodology for data gathering, data analysis and model building, and developing HR applications based on competency models. This information is covered in steps 3-6 of the six-step process that is used in our consulting practice and taught in our Building Competency Models workshop. It can also be found in the Resources & Support section of the Workitect website. Additional self-instruction material is included in Workitect’s quick start Building a Basic Model program that is available to licensees of the Workitect Competency Dictionary

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Possible ways to address several of these questions and issues are described below:

STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS
After conceptualizing an approach to the project, a good first step in planning to think systematically about the stakeholders who will be affected by the competency-modeling project that you are considering. Possible stakeholders include:

  • Job incumbents in the jobs for which competency models will be built
  • Managers of job incumbents
  • Upper management (two or more levels above the job holders)
  • HR leaders who work with job incumbents or their managers
  • Internal or external consultants who work with job incumbents or their managers
  • The senior leader of HR
  • Internal customers of job incumbents
  • Informal leaders who can influence any of the above groups

In thinking about stakeholders, try to answer these questions:

  • Apart from this project, what are the most important needs, agendas and concerns of this individual or group?
  • How can you learn more about the most important needs, agendas or concerns of this individual or group?
  • How can this project address a need, agenda, or concern of this individual or group?
  • What will be the likely response of this individual or group to the project you are contemplating: support, resistance, or neutrality?
  • For each stakeholder, what can you do to build support or reduce resistance?

STRUCTURE OF THE PROJECT PLAN
After conceptualizing an approach to the project, the next step is to develop a project plan, which should include a set of tasks and a timeline. The format of the finished plan might have the following structure.

The project tasks are broken down into five groups. Project Launch activities might include:

  • a meeting with the project sponsor(s)
  • a meeting of project team to review and refine the project plan
  • training or preparing project team members to conduct interviews, resource panels and focus groups and to perform individual data analysis tasks

Data Gathering activities include:

  • Gathering and reviewing company documents relevant to the project, (e.g., existing job descriptions, organization charts, mission and values statements, performance appraisal forms, the organization’s strategic plan)
  • Identifying participants for each of the main data gathering activities (e.g., interviews, resource panel, focus groups)
  • Developing protocols for each data gathering activity (e.g., interview guide, questions to pose to resource panel and focus groups
  • Conducting each data gathering activity

Data Analysis and Model Building activities include:

  • Transcribing interviewers’ notes or tapes and notes on flip charts from resource panels and focus group
  • Individually analyzing interview notes or transcripts from each data gathering
  • Meeting to review and compare the results of individual
  • Preparing a draft competency model
  • Reviewing and revising the draft competency model based on feedback from the sponsor and other stakeholders

Application Development activities include:

  • Designing the application
  • Developing the tools and materials to support the application
  • Preparing a training or educational session on use of the application
  • Implementing the application

Communications activities include:

  • Preparing a draft email message to be sent by the organization’s senior leader explaining the purpose and benefits of the project to job incumbents and managers of job incumbents in jobs for which competency models will be built
  • Meetings with managers of job incumbents to explain the project
  • Preparing communications inviting participation from individuals selected for data gathering activities
  • Regular meetings with the project sponsor(s) to provide updates on project activities
  • Preparing periodic email communications to key stakeholders regarding progress with the project
  • Developing a presentation of the competency model(s) and application
  • Delivering the presentation to key stakeholder groups, such as upper management, managers of the job incumbents, and the job incumbents

COMMUNICATING WITH STAKEHOLDERS AND EMPLOYEES
When launching and implementing a competency-modeling project, the leaders of the project have to clearly and comprehensively communicate with two audiences:

1.  All employees, and
2. The managers and employees who will be directly involved in the project

       ALL EMPLOYEES
When any new project is undertaken within an organization, particularly one initiated by the human resources department, people have a natural tendency to get suspicious, concerned, or just curious. Employees who understand the project, it’s scope, each person’s involvement in it, and it’s potential benefits will help turn suspicion into support, and will go a long way toward making the project successful.

If your organization has access to an internal or external employee communications expert, use that expertise to help you plan and implement an effective communications effort.

Here a few points that can be covered in communicating the project. Ideally, the initial announcement should come from the senior sponsor and include:

  • The business need for creating this model at this time.
  • The name of the senior sponsor for the project.
  • Names of people on the project team.
  • How will the model be used, the application, and when will it be implemented.
  • Who is involved in creating the model- particularly jobholders and managers of job-holders.
  • Who to contact with questions

      PEOPLE DIRECTLY INVOLVED
In addition to receiving the same communications provided to all employees, the people involved in various aspects of the project should receive clear and complete information about their specific role.

      When informing people who will be on a resource panel or will be interviewed:

  • The communications can be from senior sponsor or a senior person on project team.
  • Reiterate purpose for the project.
  • Explain why they were selected.
  • Explain how they are to participate, either on the panel or in an interview.
  • Attach key questions they will be asked (for them to consider before their session).
  • Stress that their individual comments will be held confidential; only a summary of all comments will be published.
  • Inform them of the person they can contact with questions. 

     When distributing the model or application:

  • Communications should be from senior sponsor.
  • Summarize the history of the project to this point.
  • List the people who participated in creating the model/application.
  • Explain the implementation plan and timeline.
  • Inform them of the person they can contact with questions.

In summary, do not underestimate the importance of this step. A competency-based human resource system, implemented properly, should have a very positive impact on employees’ job satisfaction. It makes it more likely that people will be assessed fairly and accurately, and be afforded opportunities based on objective criteria (a picture of what superior performers really do that makes them superior performers). Poor communications of a model-building project leads to a diminishing of this positive effect and can actually lead to a negative result.

Practical Questions for HR Professionals Who are Building Competency Models

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 accommodated? 
Contact us at 800-870-9490 or ec@workitect.com if you have questions or want additional information.
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Tailor job competency models to your organization’s vision, mission, and shared values

 

OFF-THE-SHELF COMPETENCY MODELS ARE NOT EFFECTIVE

We often get requests from organizations wanting to acquire off-the-shelf generic competency models. Can a generic off-the-shelf competency model be effective?  Don’t jobs with the same title require pretty much the same competencies in all organizations? Yes and No. I have yet to build a model for a sales job that didn’t include “influencing others” or “persuasive communications” as a competency. But, top performing sales people in one organization may have a team selling approach requiring the “fostering teamwork” competency, while it not being important in a different organization. And how is it possible for someone who is successful in one company to go to another company in what appears to be an identical position, and not be successful?

The job duties of a position may differ by industry or business strategy, thus requiring different competencies. Each organization has its own culture and “way of doing business”. Even a small difference could be critical.

Tailored models also permit an organization to imbed certain competencies in each model that reflect the vision, mission and shared values of the organization.

 

Workitect consultants only build models that are tailored to an organization, and teach internal consultants how to build their own tailored models in our Building Competency Models workshop, next scheduled for November 7-9.

Learn more about Workitect’s model building methodology and competency dictionary that is used to facilitate the building of models.

Our Model-Building Methodology
Our methodology for building job competency models is based on the Job Competence Assessment (JCA) methodology developed by Dr. David McClelland, a pioneer in motivation and competency research and testing at Harvard, and by the 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 building the model, such as behavioral event interviews and expert panels, are designed to get beneath mere opinions about superior performance and superior performers. Therefore, subjective data derived through group discussion, voting, or card-sorting are not components of our process.

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Six Steps to Building Competency Models Step 1: Conceptualizing the Project

The 6-step process infographic shown below is used by Workitect’s consultants to build job competency models for organizations, and is taught in the Building Competency Models workshop.
This blog will describe Step 1: CONCEPTUALIZING THE PROJECT


 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 1 – CONCEPTUALIZING THE PROJECT

The key components of conceptualizing the project are:

  • Thinking through the need
  • Clarifying the need through discussions with the sponsor and other key stakeholders
  • Developing an approach
  • Gaining the sponsor’s support for the approach

A. Thinking through the Need
In thinking through the need, it is helpful to consider the following questions:

  • What is the business need for the competency model(s)?
  • What HR applications will be built using the competency model(s) to address the business need?
  • What is the organizational context?
    • What business or organizational changes have occurred?
    • What other competency models exist or are planned?
    • Has the organization developed a mission or values statement?
    • What is the organization’s strategic plan or direction?
    • What aspects of the organization’s culture should be taken into account when considering this work?
    • What HR applications and programs are already in place for selection, professional development, assessment, and performance management?
    • Who will sponsor this work? What are the sponsor’s needs and concerns?
    • What other key stakeholders will be affected by the competency model and its applications? What are their needs and concerns?

B. Clarifying the Need
You probably will not have answers to all of the above questions and it is likely that the sponsor and other key stakeholders will have perspectives and concerns that you have not thought of. By talking with your sponsor and with some other key stakeholders, you can clarify what is needed. In addition, sounding out key stakeholders and demonstrating interest in their needs, you will begin to build support for the project.

C. Developing an Approach
There are three main approaches to competency model building. Developing an approach involves selecting one of the approaches and adapting it to the needs of the organization. The three approaches are:

  • 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.

  – One-Size-Fits-All Approach
In the One-Size-Fits-All Approach a competency model is developed for a broadly defined set of jobs that may have very different responsibilities and knowledge requirements. Most often, the competency model is developed for one level of jobs, such as managers, associates, or senior leaders.

The competency model often includes competencies selected for alignment with the company’s values and strategic direction. Thus competencies may have names like “Fostering Teamwork” or “Results Orientation.” The competencies are often described in general terms that are not job specific, since the competency model covers a broad range of jobs which may have significantly different responsibilities.

  – Multiple Jobs Approach
In the Multiple Jobs Approach competency models are developed simultaneously for a set of jobs (e.g., all professional jobs in marketing; all R&D jobs, or all the job in a small organization). This approach is appropriate whenever competency models are needed for several jobs within an organization. The approach is especially useful when it is important to specify technical skill/knowledge requirements.

This approach is also appropriate when HR staff plan to apply the competency models for career planning and succession planning, which involve matching employee assessments to the requirements of multiple jobs. Because the administrative management of multiple competency models can be complex, many good technological solutions have been developed for this purpose. Some involve purchasing or leasing software, while others involve purchasing a license to use web-based applications that reside on third party servers. Technology facilitates competency assessment, development planning, and internal selection.

D. Gaining the Sponsor’s Support for the Approach
Before you can begin a competency-modeling project, you need to have your sponsor’s support, first for the general conceptual approach and later for a project plan that specifies the time, money and other resources that will be required. Before developing a detailed plan, it is useful to ensure that the sponsor supports your general conceptual approach. Therefore, you need to share your approach with the sponsor and check to see if you have your sponsor’s support. You can do this in an in-person or telephone meeting.

Next Blog: Step 2 – Project Planning

 

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Conduct an On-Site Building Competency Models Workshop

Building Competency Models workshop has been conducted on-site for Google, Air Canada, the U.S. Department of Defense, and other organizations. This workshop, and others, such as the Creating Technical Competencies workshop and Interviewing for Competencies workshop, are effective at training and certifying individuals and small teams to develop job competency models and HR applications. But, each organization has its own particular needs and situation that are difficult to address in a public workshop, even with an hour of individual consulting help that is a part of the BCM program. Onsite programs can be customized to the special needs of an organization. Consulting assistance can be a larger component, technical competencies can be included, or organizational issues addressed.

Other benefits include being able to:

  • Evaluate, and possibly modify, past or existing model building approaches,
  • Focus on strategy, planning, and implementation of specific applications
  • Achieve synergy; prepare implementation team members to collaborate and support each other
  • Ensure consistency in applying model building methodology
  • Obtain cost-savings; training more people with no travel costs

Here are a few examples of on-site workshops and planning sessions that have been conducted by Workitect:

Google:

This 3-day workshop was tailored and conducted for HR and non-HR staff responsible for rolling out a project for Google Fiber that involved the staffing of a new organization to install a fiber-optic high speed internet and TV service in major cities throughout the USA.

ac_white_stkAir Canada:

Our 3-day Building Competency Models workshop was modified to devote more time to plan the implementation of the various competency modeling approaches, and on the development of three high priority HR applications.

braskemBraskem (formerly Sunoco Chemical):

Tailored a 3-day workshop that combined the essentials of both the building competency models and building technical competencies sessions for the HR staff. The workshop also focused on developing a consistent approach for building models throughout the company.

“Workitect demystified the competency development process and gave us the confidence to move forward with our program.”

Kelly Elizardo
Director, Learning & Development

attachmentFranklin Templeton:

We developed and delivered a 2-day working session to review the essential of building competency models with the company’s HRD staff.  The second part of the program was to build expertise in how to explain and sell the benefits of competencies to clients and to facilitate a consistent process for building models throughout the company.

dod20ig20logoU.S. Department of Defense, Inspector General Office:

We delivered two 4-day on-site sessions for the staff who are charged with building models for their organization. The workshops included both building competency models and building technical models.

“This course is simultaneously practical, comprehensive, and intellectually rigorous. By providing the project methodology and modeling methodology, Workitect has given me all I need to succeed. I am ready to go!”

Deane Williams
Program Manager

Review a typical agenda for an on-site workshop.

To schedule an on-site workshop, contact Ed Cripe at 800-870-9490 or ec@workitect.com.

Editor’s Note; This post was originally posted in April, 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Develop SHRM’s Strategic HR Planning Competency in 2017

In SHRM’s HR Competency Model, the Body of Competency and Knowledge includes the #1 functional competency of HR Strategic Planning. The SHRM definition is: “HR Strategic Planning involves the activities necessary for developing, implementing and managing the strategic direction required to achieve organizational success and to create value for stakeholders.”

Several years ago, Workitect developed a competency model for HR professionals in a very large international organization with operations and HR functions throughout the world. The model contained 18 competencies. A guide that provided tips and resources for developing those competencies was also created. Our agreement with that organization permitted us to share the model and resource guide with other organizations.

One of the competencies in that model, HR Advocacy, is an important component of the strategic planning that is usually demonstrated by high performing HR executives and managers. The information shown below in this posting is included in our Resource Guide for Global Human Resource Competencies. The guide was developed to help individuals and managers in HR to plan and manage professional development.

Workitect’s Definition of the HR Advocacy Competency 
Communicates Human Resources vision and capabilities internally and externally; gains commitment from others for Human Resources goals; ensures trusting relationships with others; uses Human Resources goals to help the organization achieve organizational goals.

An employee demonstrating this competency:

Communicates HR

  • Markets the organization as a preferred employer to attract the right candidates with the right competencies.
  • Represents HR internally so that employees, managers and executives understand roles and value of HR in meeting organizational and departmental objectives.
  • Promotes HR objectives and goals to ensure commitment from key stakeholders within the organization.

Building trusting relationships

  • Builds trusting relationships with others to ensure understanding of how HR is a vital asset in all areas.
  • Maintains close relationships with academic institutions and schools.

Negotiating

  • Uses negotiation skills to ensure that HR has adequate physical and financial resources.
  • Creates a voice for HR through mediation and conflict resolution.

Creating a vision for HR          

  • Defines and communicates HR’s vision and roles consistent with helping the organization to implement strategies which attain overall goals and objectives.
  • Enlists commitment by involving others in all stages.

Importance of This Competency

This competency is the third strategic competency of five under the category of Human Resources Leadership, and ensures that Human Resources personnel are advocates for their function.

Advocacy involves presenting Human Resources in the best light and presenting the case for its value in the overall successful operation of the unit and the company at large.

By judicially advocating the function and its programs, we will ensure the best chance of being invited to get involved in the key business and operational issues of our business partners – they will understand the contribution that we can make to their success.

General Considerations in Developing This Competency

You will only be a true advocate for Human Resources if you know for yourself the strengths and outcomes that can be expected from Human Resources programs and as a result of Human Resources involvement. A thorough knowledge and deep sense of commitment to Human Resources initiatives is therefore essential.

Furthermore, your word as an advocate will only be believed if you (and the rest of the Human Resources team) are trusted. Integrity is therefore critical.

Practicing This Competency

As a Team Member
– Look at ways to explain the value of Human Resources programmes and involvement, first to yourself, and then to others.
– Build confidence in explaining the Human Resources strategy, helping the listener to make connections between this and their own strategy.
– Think about ways in which you can enhance the impression others have of Human Resources through your own behavior and communication style.
– Read about the subject of trust in general and think about all the ways you can help others to trust you.
– Be ready to explain and defend the need for resources to be able to achieve your department’s goals.
– Look at ways to involve others in the achievement of Human Resources’ goals – building alliances and developing allies is a smart tactic in any business setting.

As a Team Leader
– Evaluate the extent to which your team are really advocates for Human Resources, both internally to business partners, but also externally to potential employees, sources of employees (e.g. schools, universities) and other outside vendors.
– Demonstrate advocacy in your own internal meetings and the individual sessions with your team members.
– Continually look for opportunities to involve Human Resources in the activities of your business partners, highlighting the value added.
– Use strategy and business plan documents to make sure that you stay on track and continue to look forward, anticipating future needs and changes.
– Be resolute in negotiating for the resources necessary for you and your team to do what needs to be done.
– In looking after the business needs of the other departments, make sure that you do not overlook the needs of your own department – your department must have certain resources to be able to help others.

Obtaining Feedback

– Before implementing an influence strategy, discuss it with others and ask for their feedback and suggestions.
– After an interaction in which you tried to enlist the support of an individual or group, ask a colleague who was present for feedback and suggestions on your influence efforts.
– Before delivering a presentation, review the content with someone whose judgment you trust and ask for feedback and suggestions.
– Ask someone to observe you delivering a presentation and to give you feedback and constructive suggestions.

Learning from Experts

– Look for opportunities to work closely with skilled influencers on tasks requiring the development of influence strategies e.g., planning a presentation or sales call, and leading a group to achieve a particular outcome.
– Observe a skilled influencer using influence skills in situations such as sales calls, speeches, meetings with subordinates, meetings to build relationships. Notice what the person says, how he/she says it, and the verbal and nonverbal reactions of the persons present.
– Interview a skilled influencer about times when this person successfully influenced others. Try to get the sequence of what the person did and thought. Recognise that the person you interview may be reluctant to discuss some influence efforts, particularly those used to influence the person’s current supervisor.
– Observe someone skilled in creating and delivering presentations. Note the content and organisation of the presentation. What ideas could you use in your presentations? Study the person’s delivery of the presentation. Note the person’s verbal and nonverbal behavior. What does this person do that you could do in your presentations?

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:
– Involve this person in some of your own influence efforts and share your thinking about your goals, plans, and the reasons underlying them.
– Provide assignments requiring the use of influence skills: e.g., developing a presentation to senior management; planning a meeting with another group whose cooperation is needed. Provide suggestions and feedback on the planning and implementation of influence strategies.
– Provide opportunities for this person to work closely with skilled influencers.
– Provide opportunities for this person to observe skilled presenters. Discuss what the person noticed in the skilled presenter’s presentations.
– Help the person plan the organisation and content of a presentation. Share the reasons underlying your thinking.
– Observe the person deliver a presentation and provide specific, constructive feedback, both positive and negative.
– If you are managing several persons who have opportunities to give presentations, debrief each presentation and ensure that each person receives useful, constructive feedback.
– Provide opportunities for presentation skills training.

Sample Development Goals

By September 10, I will read Getting to Yes, by Fisher and Ury and use what I learn to develop a strategy for gaining the cooperation of the Research.
By November 3, I will hold meetings to build relationships with five individuals from other departments, whose support I may need over the coming year.
– Before the October 5 benefits meeting with a new potential benefits provider, I will call the two project managers they are inviting to that meeting to learn what they would like to gain from the meeting. I will then plan and deliver a presentation that addresses these needs and interests.
– By December 15, I will complete a course on Influencing Others.
– By June 10, I will read The Art of Persuasive Communications, and identify a list of ideas to build into my presentation at the next department head meeting.
– By June 5, I will have Cindy Spier videotape me rehearsing a presentation, and I will ask her to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.
– By July 25, I will complete a course on Presentation Skills.

Obtaining Feedback

– Before implementing an influence strategy, discuss it with others and ask for their feedback and suggestions.
– After an interaction in which you tried to enlist the support of an individual or group, ask a colleague who was present for feedback and suggestions on your influence efforts.
– Before delivering a presentation, review the content with someone whose judgment you trust and ask for feedback and suggestions.
– Ask someone to observe you delivering a presentation and to give you feedback and constructive suggestions.

Learning from Experts

– Look for opportunities to work closely with skilled influencers on tasks requiring the development of influence strategies e.g., planning a presentation or sales call, and leading a group to achieve a particular outcome.
– Observe a skilled influencer using influence skills in situations such as sales calls, speeches, meetings with subordinates, meetings to build relationships. Notice what the person says, how he/she says it, and the verbal and nonverbal reactions of the persons present.
– Interview a skilled influencer about times when this person successfully influenced others. Try to get the sequence of what the person did and thought. Recognise that the person you interview may be reluctant to discuss some influence efforts, particularly those used to influence the person’s current supervisor.
– Observe someone skilled in creating and delivering presentations. Note the content and organization of the presentation. What ideas could you use in your presentations? Study the person’s delivery of the presentation. Note the person’s verbal and nonverbal behavior. What does this person do that you could do in your presentations?

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:
– Involve this person in some of your own influence efforts and share your thinking about your goals, plans, and the reasons underlying them.
– Provide assignments requiring the use of influence skills: e.g., developing a presentation to senior management; planning a meeting with another group whose cooperation is needed. Provide suggestions and feedback on the planning and implementation of influence strategies.
– Provide opportunities for this person to work closely with skilled influencers.
– Provide opportunities for this person to observe skilled presenters. Discuss what the person noticed in the skilled presenter’s presentations.
– Help the person plan the organization and content of a presentation. Share the reasons underlying your thinking.
– Observe the person deliver a presentation and provide specific, constructive feedback, both positive and negative.
– If you are managing several persons who have opportunities to give presentations, debrief each presentation and ensure that each person receives useful, constructive feedback.
– Provide opportunities for presentation skills training.

Sample Development Goal

-By September 10, I will read Getting to Yes, by Fisher and Ury and use what I learn to develop a strategy for gaining the cooperation of the Research Division.
– By November 3, I will hold meetings to build relationships with five individuals from other departments, whose support I may need over the coming year.
– Before the October 5 benefits meeting with a new potential benefits provider, I will call the two project managers they are inviting to that meeting to learn what they would like to gain from the meeting. I will then plan and deliver a presentation that addresses these needs and interests.
– By December 15, I will complete a course on Influencing Others.
– By June 10, I will read The Art of Persuasive Communications, and identify a list of ideas to build into my presentation at the next department head meeting.
– By June 5, I will have Cindy Spier videotape me rehearsing a presentation, and I will ask her to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.
– By July 25, I will complete a course on Presentation Skills.

External Resources

Books

The Art and Science of Persuasive Business Presentations, by Nils Randrup, Copenhagen Business School Press, 2002. ISBN: 8763000695

The Art of Persuasive Communication, by Richard Storey, Gower Publishing, 1997. ISBN: 0566078198

Building Trust: A Manager’s Guide for Business Success, by Mary Shurtleff, Crisp Publications, 1998. ISBN: 1560525142

Building Trust: In Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life, by Robert Solomon, Fernando Flores, Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN: 0195126858

Contented Cows Give better Milk: The Plain Truth about Employee Relations and Your Bottom Line, by Bill Catlette, Saltillo Press, 1998. ISBN: 1890651044

Getting It Done: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, by Roger Fisher, John Richardson, Alan Sharp, HarperBusiness, 1999. ISBN: 0887309585

Getting Things Done When You are Not in Charge, by Geoffrey Bellman, Simon & Schuster, 1993. ISBN: 0671864122

Getting Past No: Negotiating with Difficult People, by William Ury, Random House Business, 1992. ISBN: 0712655239

Getting to Yes, by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton, Arrow, 1997. ISBN: 0099248425

The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First, by Jeffrey Pfeffer, Harvard Business School Press, 1998. ISBN: 0875848419

Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering Results, by David Ulrich, Harvard Business School Press, 1996. ISBN: 0875847196

Influence: Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini, Longman, 2000. ISBN: 03210111473

Influence Without Authority, by Allen Cohen, David Bradford. John Wiley, 1991. ISBN: 0471548944

The Meaning and Role of Organizational Advocacy: Responsibility and Accountability in the Workplace, by Jane Galloway Seiling, Greenwood Press, 2001. ISBN: 156720371X

Success in Sight: Visioning, by Andrew Kakabadse, Frederic Nortier, Nello-Bernard Abramovici, International Thomson Business Press, 1998. ISBN: 186152160X

You Can Negotiate Anything, by Herb Cohen, Bantam, 1993. ISBN: 0553259997

Online and Self-Study Courses

Presentation Success: How to Plan, Prepare, and Deliver Effective Presentations. American Management Association Self Study Course. www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b13821.htm

Successful Negotiating. American Management Association Self Study Course. www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b1416x.htm

Interpersonal Negotiations. American Management Association Self Study Course. Tel.: 800-262-9699. Stock # 95053CYI.

How to Negotiate. American Management Association Self Study Course. Tel.: 800-262-9699. Stock # 801332CYI.   Includes 6 audio cassettes.

Consultative Selling. American Management Association Self Study Course. Tel.: 800-262-9699. Stock # 80200CYI. Includes 4 audio cassettes.

Value Selling: How to Sell to Cost-Conscious Customers. American Management Association Self Study Course. Tel.: 800-262-9699. Stock # 80194CYI. Includes 4 audio cassettes.

How to Deal with Differences in People, by Tony Alessandra. Six audio cassettes plus Progress Guide and Behavioral-Style Evaluation. Order through Nightingale Conant, 800-525-9000. Code 1431AS

Negotiating Strategies for the Real World, by William Ury. Six audio cassettes plus workbook. Order through Nightingale Conant, 800-525-9000. Code 691AS

How to Gain Power and Influence with People, by Tony Alessandra. Six audio cassettes. Nightingale Conant, 800-525-9000. Code 370AS.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. Six audio cassettes. Nightingale Conant, 800-525-9000. Code786PAS.

The Art of Influencing People Positively, by Tony Alessandra. 45-minute video. Order through Talico, 904-241-1721. Code TI-201.

WHAT TIPS AND RESOURCES HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE HELPFUL IN COMMUNICATING AND “SELLING” HUMAN RESOURCES VISION AND CAPABILITIES?

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Include Competencies in a Succession Plan

 successionplanningSuccession planning is an ongoing system of identifying competent employees who are ready to move into key jobs in the organization and/or those who, with specifically identified development, will be ready to assume key jobs at some stated point in the future. Job-person matches are made between existing employees and future jobs they might assume. These future jobs are usually higher level posi­tions. But, succession planning may be for key jobs above, at the same level, or even below the job an employee now holds. Increasingly, succession planning is for lateral job moves (e.g., to a different function, project team, or geography).

The usual criteria for a succession planning system successful include:

  • One, preferably two, well-qualified internal candidates are identified as ready to assume any key job should it become vacant.
  • A record of successful promotions (or other job placements).
  • Few superior performers leave the organization because of “lack of opportunity­”

Competency-based succession planning systems identify the competency re­quirements for critical jobs, assess candidate competencies, and evaluate possible job-person matches. Career path “progression maps” identify key “feeder” jobs for lateral or higher level “target” positions within a job fam­ily or across job families.

The table below shows seven generic levels for line, staff function, and team/ project management. Jobs at any given level are feeder positions for higher rungs on the job ladder, and for lateral moves to positions in other job families.

A competency-based succession planning system assesses how many em­ployees in which feeder jobs have (or have the potential to develop) the compe­tencies to perform well in key target jobs. There are two ways of doing this.

  • The first is to compare the competencies of people in the feeder job with the competency requirements of the target job.
  • The second is to compare the competency requirements of the feeder job and the target job.

                  Generic Organizational Structure: Feeder Jobs and Levels

Line Staff Team/Project
1. Individual Contributor: Seasoned professional New hire 1. Individual Contributor: Seasoned professional New hire 1. Individual Contributor: Seasoned professional New hire
2. First Line Supervisor: Homogenous work group 2. Lead professional: Integrates other professionals work 2. Team/Project Leader: without permanent reports
3. Department: Manages several work units managed by subordinate supervisors 3. Function Manager: (finance, human resources) for a small business unit 3. Project Manager: Coordinates Project/Team Leaders from several work groups
4. Several Departments: Manages plant, region, several departments, function managers 4. Several Functions: (e.g., finance and administration) 4. Large Project Manager: Manages other Project managers
5. Business Unit: President or General Manager 5. Top Function Manager: for a business: VP Finance, VP Marketing 5. Major Product Manager: Coordinates all functions – R&D, marketing, manufacturing, HR
6. Division: Manages many business units (e.g., Group VP of large firm) 6. Corporate Executive VP: (e.g., Chief Financial Officer) 6. Mega Project Manager: $100+ million (e.g., NASA, military weapons acquisition)
7. Major Corporation CEO: Large complex multi-division organization

ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES

The issues that indicate a need for competency-based succession planning systems include:

  • Promotion or placement outcomes are poor; too many people promoted or transferred to new responsibilities fail or quit. Typical examples are promoting the best salesperson to sales manager or the best technical professional to supervisor and then finding he or she lacks essential in­terpersonal understanding and influence skills.
  • There is a need to redeploy technical/professional staff people to mar­keting or line management jobs-or managers back to individual con­tributor roles in an organization that is cutting middle management. “Lean and mean” organizations offer fewer vertical promotional or ca­reer path opportunities, with the result that more succession planning is In downsizing organizations, the key placement question may be which managers have kept up with their technical and professional com­petencies so they are able to return to individual contributor roles.
  • Organizational changes require employees with different competencies. Globalizing firms need employees with the competencies to function in different parts of the world. Privatizing organizations need to determine which government bureaucrats have enough achievement motivation to be­come entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Stagnant firms need employees with innovative and entrepreneurial competencies to survive in markets with shorter product life cycles and fast-moving foreign competitors. Downsizing firms need to decide who stays and who is let go, that is, which employees have the competencies to fill demanding “same amount of work with fewer people” jobs in the new, smaller organization.
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations require the surviving firm to decide which existing employees are needed for (which) jobs in the new structure. Mergers of similar firms often result in an organization with two marketing departments, two sales forces, duplicate staffs in many functions; merger efficiencies come from elimination of the double As with downsizing organizations, the question of who stays and who goes is determined by which employees have the competencies to succeed in the firm’s future jobs.

STEPS IN DEVELOPING A COMPETENCY-BASED SYSTEM

  1. Identify Key Jobs. Identifying these jobs in the organization’s struc­ture – or the structure it wants for the future usually includes identifying the firm’s strategy, its critical value-added target jobs, and key feeder jobs to these target jobs. Most organizations will have some variant of the seven levels shown in Table 1 for line, technical/professional, or functional staff, and team/project manager job families. Vertical progression in a job family is:
    – Individual contributor, often divided into two subgroups: new hire and seasoned professional
    – First-level functional supervisor, managing a homogeneous group of individual contributors (e.g., a move from engineer to chief engineer or programmer to software development team leader). For functional technical/professionals and project job families, this level may be a lead professional who acts as a temporary team leader, assists and integrates other professionals’ work, and mentors junior employees, but does not have any permanent reports.
    – Department, function or project managers, who manage supervisors or lead professionals of several work groups
    – Multiple departments or functions managers, who manage several other department, function, or project managers (e.g., a plant or re­gional manager, or director of finance and administration)
    – Business unit general manager, such as CEO of a small firm (less than $20 million in annual revenues); top functional manager, such as Mar­keting or Finance Vice President of a medium-size firm ($20-$200 million revenues); or manager of a major project
    – Division general manager, such as CEO of a medium-size firm ($200 million revenues); top functional executive in a large firm ($200+ million revenues), or mega-project manager
    – CEO of a large, complex multidivision organization
  2. Develop Competency Models for Critical Target and Feeder Jobs. Fre­quently this involves development of competency models for each of several steps in a job family ladder. BEIs conducted with four superiors and two aver­ages at each level are analyzed to identify competencies required for a supe­rior performance at the level and also to pinpoint how the competencies change or grow as an employee advances up the ladder.
  3. Create a Formalized Succession Planning Process. This process should be an annual cycle that requires management at each level to conduct assessments and engage in discussions about the talent within their organizations including performance and potential of their direct reports and other high potential people within their groups. In addition a mid-year update meeting can be help to identify progress since the last formal session. During the annual session the management team classifies people, in terms of their performance and potential, as:
  • Promotable, either:
    • Ready now, or
    • Developable (i.e., could be ready in the future if they develop specific competencies to the level required by the future jobs for which they are candidates)
  • Not promotable :
    • Competent in their current job, and/or
    • Have potential to transfer laterally to some other job
  • Not competent in their current job and not a fit with other jobs in the organization as it will be in the future. These people are candidates for early retirement or outplacement.

4. Develop a Human Resource Management Information System. Succession planning for more than a few positions all but requires a computerized human resource information system to keep track of the competency requirements of all jobs, competencies of these people assessed, and evaluation of possible job-­person matches.
5. Develop a Development/Career Pathing System (Optional). Succession planning systems create demand for competency-based development and ca­reer pathing systems. Once employees understand the competency require­ments for higher jobs and the gaps between their competencies and those required by the jobs they want, they ask for training or other developmental activities to close the gap. Similarly, once an organization is aware of the com­petencies it needs to be successful and the gaps between these needs and the capabilities of its existing or projected staff, it seeks selection or developmen­tal programs to close these gaps.

Workitect consulting services are available to create competency-based succession planning and talent management systems.

Reference: Competence At Work, by Lyle Spencer and Signe Spencer; 1993, John Wiley & Sons.

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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?

15-performanceworth4c-2

“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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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 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.

WHAT METHODS OR RESOURCES HAVE YOU SEEN TO BE MOST EFFECTIVE IN DEVELOPING “DECISIVENESS” IN LEADERS?

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.

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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.

Conclusion
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.
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