How to Improve the Influencing of Others

IMPORTANCE OF INFLUENCING OTHERS
This competency, which is the ability to get others to do what you would like them to do, is fundamental to many goals and activities at work: selling, enlisting support for ideas, obtaining resources, motivating subordinates, energizing teams, and building support for an organizational vision. The higher your level in an organization, the more important is this competency.
More and more organizations are moving away from hierarchical organizations, in which influence depends heavily on the use of positional power. The increasing use of teams requires Influence Skill, rather than authority, to gain support.

DEFINITION OF “INFLUENCING OTHERS”: The ability to gain others’ support for ideas, proposals, projects, and solutions.

  1. Presents arguments that address other’s most important concerns and issues and looks for win-win solutions
  2. Involves others in a process or decision, to ensure their support
  3. Offers trade-offs or exchanges, to gain commitment
  4. Identifies and proposes solutions that benefit all parties involved in a situation
  5. Enlists experts or third parties to influence others
  6. Develops other indirect strategies to influence others
  7. Knows when to escalate critical issues to own or other’s management, if own efforts to enlist support have not succeeded
  8. Structures situations (e.g., the setting, persons present, sequence of events) to create a desired impact and to maximize the chances of a favorable outcome
  9. Works to make a particular impression on others
  10. Identifies and targets influence efforts at the real decision makers and those who can influence them
  11. Seeks out and builds relationships with others who can provide information, intelligence, career support, potential business, and other forms of help
  12. Takes a personal interest in others (e.g., by asking about their concerns, interests, family, friends, hobbies), to develop relationships
  13. Accurately anticipates the implications of events or decisions for various stock holders in the organization and plans strategy accordingly.

General Considerations in Developing this Competency
As the behaviors for this competency show, there are a wide variety of ways in which this competency can be demonstrated. Most of these ways involve careful analysis of the needs, interests, concerns, and fears of the persons to be influenced. Based on this analysis, the skillful influencer considers alternative approaches and develops influence strategies. The strategies reflect thinking that is not always shown in observable behavior. Developing Influencing Others requires learning this kind of thinking.

One of the best methods to develop Influencing Others is to work closely with a skilled influencer planning influence strategies. Another method is to learn about influence strategies through courses and books. Using influence strategies effectively requires practice and feedback. Courses which involve role playing and feedback can provide this practice.

This competency builds on several other competencies, especially Interpersonal Awareness and Persuasive Communication. Developing these competencies will help develop Influencing Others. In addition, Influencing Others often requires knowing or learning about the politics of an organization: the histories and agendas of different groups and the decision makers and key influences of particular types of decisions.

Practicing this Competency

  • The next time you need to influence someone, ask that person or others what are his/her most important needs and concerns.
  • Try to think of a solution that will address the other person’s needs or concerns while meeting your own objectives.
  • Consider involving others (by asking for input, checking out possible approaches, or working with them to develop a plan) to gain their support.
  • Think about what you can offer the other person or group in exchange for what you would like from this person or group.
  • Try to think of solutions that will benefit everyone involved in a situation. The book, Getting to Yes, by Roger Fisher and William Ury, provides many useful ideas for doing this.
  • If an issue is critical and you have exhausted other approaches, consider escalating the issue to your own manager or the other person’s manager. This is a strategy which should be used only when absolutely necessary, since it often provokes negative reactions in the other person.
  • Before an important meeting, at which it is important to gain the support of another person or group, consider what you can do to structure the event (e.g., by orchestrating the setting, attendees, sequence of events, refreshments, entertainment) to achieve a desired outcome.
  • To influence a decision in your own organization or a client’s, try to learn who the decision makers are and what their concerns are likely to be. Try to talk directly to the real decision makers.
  • To build a basis for influence efforts in the future, develop and maintain relationships with others from whom you may need support. Find ways to help them. Try to learn about their interests and concerns.

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.

Learning from Experts
Look for opportunities to work closely with skilled influences on tasks requiring the development of influence strategies e.g., planning a presentation or sales call, 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. Recognize that the person you interview may be reluctant to discuss some influence efforts, particularly those used to influence the person’s current supervisor.

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 influences.

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 R&D Division.
  • By November 3, I will hold meetings to build relationships with 5 individuals from other departments, whose support I may need over the coming year.
  • Before the October 5 sales meeting with Central Information, 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.

Resources for Developing this Competency
Books, learning programs, courses, and other resources are listed in Workitect’s Competency Development Guide, a 280-page, 8.5″ x 11″ spiral bound handbook for the development of 35 competencies. An online version, the eDeveloper, and licenses for organization-wide use are available.

Other Applications

For many organizations, the guide has been a key component of an integrated competency-based talent management system that includes job competency models built with a competency dictionary of 35 competencies, interview guides, and 360 assessments.

Also available for HR professionals: the Resource Guide for Developing Global HR Competencies, second edition of a 166-page spiral-bound book that provides a comprehensive listing of resources for developing 18 strategic and tactical HR competencies required of HR professionals working anywhere in the world, including in locations with limited access to resources.

Contact us for additional information.

Join our LinkedIn Competency-Based Talent Management Group.

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How you can benefit from having a competency model for your job.

 A  COMPETENCY MODEL FOR YOUR JOB CAN PROVIDE THESE BENEFITS FOR YOU IN YOUR ORGANIZATION:

A. Clear Job Requirements:

What do you need to do to be successful at work?

Competencies define the skills needed for your current or desired job, creating alignment around expectations at work. You can use them to assess your own skills, increase your self-awareness, and identify how to improve your performance in your current job or your candidacy for another job.

B. Objective Performance Reviews:

Do you have a clearly defined process to track skill progression?

Competencies, and the associated behavioral indicators, add objectivity to the performance management process by defining what and how well you are performing certain skills. It is not based on your manager’s subjective conclusions about your performance and competencies. You can track your own performance and document how well you performed against a specific competency, revealing how well you demonstrated the desired behavioral indicators.

C. Evaluation of Career Potential:

Do you know how to gain career mobility at your organization?

Your potential for other positions in your organization has probably already been evaluated, based on the skills, knowledge, and “intangibles” you are perceived to possess. Wouldn’t you like transparency, to know what those intangibles are, so that you can reset your career aspirations or develop the competencies you need in order to advance? In comparing people’s performance and potential, a competency model provides a consistent, objective and valid framework for the evaluation. If none exists, you don’t know what is being used as a measuring stick, e.g. loyalty to boss, tenure, etc.

D. Clear and Concise Feedback:

Is there a common language to communicate development opportunities?

Competencies allow people to give you clearer, more concise and understandable feedback about your strengths and development opportunities. They also offer a common language to give and receive feedback, used to set goals. Would you prefer to hear “you need to work on your selling skills” or “you would be more effective in selling your ideas if you more actively sought to understand others’ needs and concerns before trying to promote your ideas”.

E. Achievable Development Plans:

Do you have a realistic, behavioral specific plan for success?

A competency model helps you to build your development plan by pointing to specific behaviors in which you are successful and where you should improve. You can then benchmark progress and create future action plans, leveraging your strengths to address developmental needs. In the previous example, the focus for development would be to “better identify others’ needs and how your ideas will assist them”. This is a better and more achievable development objective than to simply “improve your influencing skills”.

DEVELOPING COMPETENCY GOALS

A process for developing competency goals is described below. While you may begin this process at the development planning meeting with your manager, afterwards you will need to do some additional individual planning and follow-up with your manager.

For each competency you have targeted for development:

1. Read the section on this competency, in Part II “Specific Suggestions for Developing Each Competency.” of Workitect’s Competency Development Guide.

2. Prepare a list of 6-15 goals you would like to include in your development plan for this competency. Each goal should specify some specific activity that you will complete by a specific date. Sample competency development goals are provided for each competency.

3. Draw on, but do not necessarily limit yourself to, the specific suggestions provided for developing this competency.

4. Include some goals that involve practicing the behaviors of the competency in relatively safe situations, where mistakes will not have significant consequences.

5. Include some goals that involve practicing the behaviors of the competency in situations that will help you achieve your job or business goals.

6. Create a list of goals for this competency that is both realistic and challenging. Assume that you will focus your developments on one competency for a 3-4 month period and that you will spend 3-6 hours per week, in addition to your regular job responsibilities, working on your competency goals.

7. Review a draft list of your goals for this competency with your manager and get his/her input.

8. Enter the competency development goals on a copy of the Competency Development Planning Form.

9. Repeat this process for the two other competencies you have targeted for development.

More information and tips can be found in our Competency Development Guide.

Discussion Question: If you now have a competency model for your position, what has it meant for you personally? Positive, negative, or no effect?

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Resources For Developing Competencies

Here are some resources you can use and actions you can take in order to develop a competency:  
Observation of outstanding performers
can be useful in developing recognition and understanding of the competencies. To use this type of developmental activity, you must have someone to observe who is adept at the competency, and the competency must be, of course, one that is demonstrated through observable behavior, such as providing motivational support.

Practicing the behaviors of each competency is the most direct method of competency development and is an essential part of any competency development strategy. This method provides the skill practice that is needed for competency development. You can use this method in conjunction with any of the others (e.g., by first reading about or observing effective behaviors). If possible, try out the behaviors in relatively safe situations (e.g., off the job) before trying them in critical, high-stakes situations on the job.

Self-Study Courses
Self-study courses can provide the same advantages as readings. In addition, many self-study courses include video providing an opportunity to observe others demonstrating the competency, audio which make it possible to learn about the competency while driving your car, and a variety of exercises to increase your understanding and use of the competency. Self-study courses may also include tests, which allow you to check your understanding.

Courses
Courses provide a block of time away from the job, when you can focus on development of specific competencies or skills. Most courses provide a variety of methods (e.g., readings, videos, observation, and practice). Courses can provide opportunities to practice skills in a safe environment and to receive expert coaching. A few external courses that are offered in several geographical locations are listed. Your organization’s training staff can help you find other courses. Directories such as “The Corporate University Guide to Management Seminars” published annually by The Corporate University Press (124 Washington Avenue, Point Richard, CA 94801), provide extensive listings of courses.

Readings
Readings help provide a conceptual framework for understanding a competency.
This framework may be especially useful in developing the following competencies:

  • Establishing Focus
  • Motivating Others
  • Fostering Teamwork
  • Managing Change
  • Managing Performance
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Influencing Others

Readings can also provide ideas on how to practice or learn competencies.

Interviewing Outstanding Performers
Interviewing outstanding performers is an easier tool to use than observation, because you do not have to be present with the outstanding performer when the competency is being demonstrated. You simply ask the person to discuss how he/she demonstrates this competency and how you can go about using this competency in your situation. It is helpful to ask the outstanding performer to talk about specific times when he/she used a competency. Interviewing outstanding performers helps to develop your understanding of the competencies. In using this method, you need not be limited to people in your own organization. Consider friends, neighbors, and people you know through professional and community organizations.

Seeking Feedback
Seeking feedback from others provides you with an accurate self-assessment. Feedback is especially important when the competencies require developing and refining a high level of skill. Ask others to observe while you try to demonstrate the competency, and ask them for feedback and suggestions. Try to arrange situations where others can observe you (e.g., conducting joint sales calls or selection interviews, managing a meeting). Let the observer know in advance what behaviors you will try to demonstrate. Ask for feedback afterwards.

Another option is to utilize feedback instruments. A 360 degree feedback instrument, Soundings™ Leadership Competency Assessment, provides feedback on 159 behaviors that make up thirty-five competencies from subordinates, co-workers and managers.

Additional Resources and Developmental Actions
Workitect’s Competency Development Guide contains additional actions that can be taken to develop a competency. An example for the competency of Managing Change can be found here.

In preparing your plan to develop a competency, consider all of these types of activities. The more different types of activities you include in your plan for developing a competency, the better your chances of success. At the same time, emphasize the activities that you are most comfortable with. And there are a variety of planning forms in Workitect’s Competency Development Guide that will facilitate the entire process. This is one of them:

WHAT RESOURCES AND ACTIONS HAVE YOU FOUND MOST HELPFUL IN
DEVELOPING COMPETENCIES?

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Develop Organizational Effectiveness and Development

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

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

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

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

An employee demonstrating this competency:

Process analysis and redesign

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

Change Management

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

Culture redesign

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

Evaluating

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

Innovating

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

PRACTICING THIS COMPETENCY

As a Team Member

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

As a Team Leader

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

OBTAINING FEEDBACK

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

LEARNING FROM EXPERTS

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

COACHING SUGGESTIONS FOR MANAGERS

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

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

 SAMPLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An employee demonstrating this competency:

     Communicating the firm’s culture and values

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

    Internal Communications

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

    Community Relations

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

Importance of This Competency

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

General Considerations in Developing This Competency

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

Practicing This Competency

    As a Team Member

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

    As Team Leader

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

Obtaining Feedback

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

Learning from Experts

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

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

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

Sample Development Goals

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

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

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

Female DriverTHE NEED FOR TALENT

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

WHY COMPETENCIES?

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.

FROM PATERNALISM TO PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY— MANAGERS AND EMPLOYEES AS COACHES

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.

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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.

Summary
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.

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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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Developing the Competency of Fostering Diversity

Group of Multiethnic Diverse Mixed Occupation PeopleFrom Workitect’s Competency Development Guide, a 280-page resource guide for developing thirty-five competencies. This competency is also Functional Area Competency #11 in SHRM’s Body of Competency and Knowledge.

Importance of Fostering Diversity

Diversity has a serious and direct impact on business results. Successful organizations are able to tap into the brainpower of talented and diverse workforces in order to serve a diversity of customers. Innovative thinking and problem solving is more likely to come from teams comprised of people with different cultural and demographic backgrounds, i.e. people with different points of view. Organizations need to optimize the use of talent at all levels with behaviors that reflect that talent comes in different packages, i.e. color, sex, age, etc.

Fostering Diversity is closely related to three other competencies in Workitect’s Competency Dictionary – Global Perspective, Fostering Teamwork and Interpersonal Awareness.

Definition of Fostering Diversity: Working effectively with all races, nationalities, cultures, disabilities, ages and sexes; Promoting equal and fair treatment and opportunity for all.

An employee demonstrating this competency:

  1. Proactively seeks information from others who have different personalities, backgrounds, and styles. Includes them in decision-making and problem solving
  2. Communicates and cooperates with others who have a diversity of cultural and demographic backgrounds
  3. Makes it easy for others to feel valuable regardless of diversity in personality, culture, or background
  4. Includes in conversations people with diverse cultural backgrounds, and invites them to be part of informal work-related activities, such as going to lunch or attending company social events
  5. For a manager or team leader, hires and develops people with a diversity of cultural and demographic backgrounds.
  6. For an employee, helps recruit and orient employees with a diversity of cultural and demographic backgrounds

General Considerations in Developing this Competency

Learning to value the diversity of people requires that you first understand your own values and beliefs. Those beliefs contribute to making you who you are and contribute to your worldview. It is important to recognize that other people may not agree with your beliefs or understand them. One of the best ways to learn about the value of diversity, and to foster it, is to work on a team of members with diverse backgrounds. Push yourself beyond your current environment and interactions to develop sensitivity to issues of diversity, contributing to a less ethnocentric self. Doing so can help you more fully understand, appreciate, and maximize the talents of others.

Both managers and non-managers are able to develop and demonstrate ‘fostering diversity’. Executives and managers, however, have the ability to make a greater impact, by ‘managing diversity’ – through staffing decisions and personal behaviors that motivate others to value and foster diversity.

Practicing this Competency

  • Learn more about your own cultural values and background to gain a better appreciation for how they may impact your decision-making style, values, and reactions to different views.
  • Actively solicit input from a wide variety of people and functions. Learn about the backgrounds, experiences and education of team members.
  • Draw together diverse groups when discussing issues, solving problems, and developing opportunities. Look at issues and opportunities from other people’s viewpoints before making a decision.
  • Slow down or use easier vocabulary when communicating with nonnative speakers so they can more easily follow and offer their own thoughts.
  • When asking someone to explain a point of view different from your own, be sure to say that your intention is to understand the person’s viewpoint, not to have him or her justify it.
  • Seek to understand diversity from a global, not just a national, perspective, if appropriate to your business and location.
  • Remember that some people want their national, philosophical, or other differences to be recognized openly, while others do not.
  • Partner with an individual whose background and experiences are different from your own and contract to both learn and teach one or two skills that will improve your performance in some way.
  • Build a support network with colleagues who are interested in more effectively leveraging diversity. Explore ideas with each other and implement them.
  • Learn more about other cultures and their values through travel, books, films, and conversations with those who have experienced other cultures, and by attending local cultural events and celebrations.

Obtaining Feedback

Ask subordinates, colleagues and your coach to describe their perception of the degree to which they see you “fostering diversity”. What are you doing that is positive and what are you doing that is not positive, or may in fact be sending the wrong signal? Ask for ongoing feedback and help. Also, how can you accelerate your fostering of diversity in your workplace? How can you all, as a group, do more to create a more diverse team?

Learning from Experts

Ask people from a variety of backgrounds for help in understanding their experiences, perspectives, and culture. Try to understand the individual as a person, and not just as a representative of a particular group. Looking at the person either as an individual only or as a representative of a group usually leads to wrong assumptions.

Establish relationships with people who are different from you. Although it is a natural tendency for people to surround themselves with others similar to them, connecting with people of different backgrounds will help you learn about the unique perspectives and contributions others have to offer.

Many large organizations have a diversity officer, usually in the human resources department. Meet with that person and ask for their advice. Interview managers and executives who have created diverse, successful teams. Observe what they do and determine how they achieved success.

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

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

  • Model the “fostering of diversity” in everything you say and do. Adopt a learner, versus judger, mindset. Utilize the differences in team members to accomplish organizational goals, and challenge assumptions and practices that limit opportunities.
  • Encourage the person to push beyond their current environment and interactions to develop their knowledge of, and sensitivity to, issues of diversity. Doing so can help the person more fully understand, appreciate, and maximize the talents of others.
  • Encourage participation in company or community programs that focus on learning about and valuing different cultures, races, religions and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Observe the assumptions the person appears to make about people and ideas. Such assumptions may be based on both external, easily identifiable differences, as well as on more subtle, invisible differences. Share your observations.

Sample Development Goals

By February 1, I will partner with an individual whose background and experiences are different than my own and contract to both learn and/or teach several skills that will improve my performance in some way.

By October 1, I will interview Dave Murphy about the things he has done to build a successful, diverse team.

By March 1, I will fill at least one of our three openings with an individual who will expand the diversity of our team.

By May 1, I will create a support network with colleagues who are interested in more effectively leveraging diversity. At least two ideas will be explored and implemented by July 1.

At the next staff meeting on October 15, I will ask for everyone’s ideas on increasing and leveraging diversity within our group.

Resources for Developing this Competency are listed in the Fostering Diversity page of the Competency Development Guide.

Let Us Help You

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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Do your executives and managers need a Global Perspective?

Twitter1252X626_WorldTo maintain global competitiveness, changing circumstances are demanding global strategic visions and new organizational structures that are conceptualized, articulated and implemented by managers.

What is a “global perspective”?

It is the ability to recognize and address issues that are outside of our national perspective. Issues are viewed without any pre-set biases or limitations. It requires being objective, and utilizing a broad framework in making judgments in domestic and international activities. It is an ability to see the “big picture”.

A person demonstrating this competency:

  1. Has global experience: considers problems and opportunities from a global perspective
  2. Understands group strategy, the role of the local business: “walks the talk”
  3. Is culturally aware and demonstrates ability to conduct business in local terms
  4. Understands and takes into account global and local impacts on day-to-day activities
  5. Aligns global strategy and tactics with local considerations
  6. Keeps abreast of global influences on the local business
  7. Role models for staff on global initiatives
  8. Aligns and manages local interests with global considerations
  9. Is proactive – prepares locally to support global activities
  10. Is empathetic and sensitive to global issues, but may lack international experience

General Considerations in Developing this Competency

In order to develop this competency, one must first set aside any and all negative, preconceived notions, biases, and ideas. This will allow the individual to fully understand and appreciate the inherent differences that exist within all cultures. Once this is done, the individual should begin to acquire information and knowledge about other cultures, in an effort to conceptualize the mores, norms, values and business practices of those given cultures.

Practicing this Competency

Acquire as much knowledge as possible through various media sources, such as the internet, periodicals, and television. Immerse yourself in different cultures by traveling, or joining groups and/or organizations with a variety of cultures. When given the chance, listen to other people’s experiences and viewpoints as they pertain to a specific cultural group, then experience this same group and see in your experience what was similar or dissimilar.

Obtaining Feedback

Ask persons from different cultures how knowledgeable you seem in regards to different geo-social, geo-economic, and geo-political issues. This will be your best gauge to assess your progress.

Learning from Experts

Identify people within your organization who are from other cultures. Discuss both business and social topics with them. See things from their perspective. Look for differences in the way they would handle and interpret different situations. Ask experts in international business to help you understand the interaction between world events, global business and your business. Spend time with natives of foreign countries, discussing the differences and similarities of your respective backgrounds.

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

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

  • Assign the person to work on projects with others from diverse backgrounds, countries and cultures. Build in international travel, where possible. Provide pre and post project briefings and debriefings regarding cultural opportunities and pitfalls.
  • Help the person develop a proactive plan for developing a global perspective.
  • Give the person feedback on his/her behaviors and performances where there was an opportunity for the demonstration of a global perspective.

 Sample Development Goals

By July 1, I will attend a meeting of the local World Trade Organization or international chamber of commerce – to learn and network.

By end of the third quarter, I will complete a Spanish (or other foreign language) class.

By the end of this month, I will subscribe to and read The Economist on a regular basis.

Each week, I will read about and/or learn about a different culture. This may include going to lunch with someone from a country/culture different from mine.

Resources for Developing this Competency
Resources for developing this competency, including books, workshops, courses, and e-learning programs, are listed in Workitect’s COMPETENCY DEVELOPMENT GUIDE, which includes similar information for the additional thirty-four competencies that are contained in Workitect’s COMPETENCY DICTIONARY.

Questions for conducting a structured behavioral event interview in order to assess and select for this competency are included in a set of thirty-five COMPETENCY INTERVIEW GUIDES.

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