Choose from Three Types of Job Competency Models

When planning a competency model-building project, three distinctive types of models need to be considered:

  1.   Single Job Competency Model
  2.   One-Size-Fits-All Model
  3.   Multiple Jobs Models

A project usually focuses on one of these approaches, although it is possible to use a combination of approaches within one organization. The following is an overview and summary of the three types. Links to full descriptions are provided at the end of each section.

  1. SINGLE JOB COMPETENCY MODEL
  • Used for an important, focused set of jobs, e.g.,
    • Sales Rep, Project Manager, Customer Service Rep
  • Requires rigorous data collection, including:
    • Resource panel
    • Key Event Interviews
    • Data from Other Sources
  • The completed model can aid development of training materials

Typical Features

  • Highly specific behavioral descriptors that describe what superior performers do in specific tasks and situations and with whom
  • Detailed linking of competencies to job responsibilities and specific tasks

When to Use

  • Opportunity to gain competitive advantage by improving productivity of people in a key job through selection or training
  • Potential productivity gains justify time and expense of this approach
  • Need to use model as basis for a training curriculum
  • There are several superior performers in the job now
  • Job is expected to continue for at least 3 years

Example: Project Manager job

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  1. ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL MODEL
  • Targets a broad set of jobs (e.g., all managerial jobs)
  • Model often includes competencies selected for alignment with company’s values and strategic direction
  • Competencies and behaviors are described in general terms that are not job specific

When to Use

  • When line management or HR wants to promote alignment with vision, values, and strategy
  • When simple solutions are preferred
  • When HR wants to quickly implement something that will have broad impact
  • When a training and development program based on the competency model will serve a large group (e.g., mid-level managers)

Example: Executives

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  1. MULTIPLE MODELS FOR MULTIPLE JOBS
  • Identifies a set of “building block” competencies for constructing all job models
  • Each competency model uses some of the building block competencies
  • Often includes technical skills and knowledge
  • Often uses competency levels
  • Competency models may include:
    • A core set of competencies for all employees
    • A set of competencies for everyone in a job family (e.g., Finance)
    • A set of job-specific competencies
  • Competency models are large (16 or more competencies)

       Why have Competency Levels

  • Levels facilitate comparison of jobs —
    A competency may be required at a basic level in one job and at an advanced level in another
  • Levels facilitate assessment of individuals as part of performance appraisal/management
  • Levels allow comparison of individual profiles with job profiles (e.g., for internal selection)

When to Use the Multiple Jobs Approach

  • When competency models are desired for many jobs in one organizational unit
  • When technical skill and knowledge are important
  • When the jobs in an organization are highly varied, and different sets of competencies are required for different jobs
  • When there is a need to match individual skill sets to assignments, for selection, career planning and succession planning
  • When technology or HR software is available

Read more >>>

Blog: Advantages of One-Size-Fits-All and Multiple Jobs Approaches

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

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

Contact Workitect if you want help in building competency models for your organization, or attend our Building Competency Models workshop and learn how to model your own models.

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Are Competency Models Too Complex?

Many organizations are questioning the value of their existing competency models. Over the past few years, multiple clients and prospective clients have expressed their concerns or outright dissatisfaction with their models. Here are comments from several organizations:

“Our current competency models are so long and complex that managers and   employees see them as just another HR program that is unusable and out-of-touch with    the way we do business here.”  Director of Talent Management, High Tech Company

“Competency models have earned such a bad reputation that we are looking for an alternate name to call them.”  CHRO of Consumer Goods Company

“Too academic and theoretical even for us.” Chief Administrative Officer for Educational Institution

Based on detailed feedback from people in these and other organizations, there appear to be several causes of this dissatisfaction and lack of success.

  • Models and applications are not driven by the business strategy and focused on producing superior organizational results. Thus, there is little or no support by top management.
  • When not done correctly,building models with multiple levels of competencies can increase the size of a complete model to 25 – 50 competencies. Adding in multiple levels of proficiencies for each competency can then create textbook-sized models. 
  • People don’t like working with large models that are difficult to comprehend and use, especially when it comes to applying them to selection, development, career planning, and performance management.
  • Models created with a generic competency dictionary created by external consultants often do not capture the unique language and culture of the organization, and fail to resonate with employees. These dictionaries are often large and complex and integrated into a human resource information system, making it difficult and expensive to customize.
  • Too much emphasis on research and validity often leads to comprehensive models that are not practical to implement.

A BETTER WAY – KEEP IT SIMPLE

Organizations have avoided these problems by creating concise competency models that are tailored for each organization and contain information that is most helpful to each employee. These models include:

Short descriptions of each job or job role, in simple non-theoretical language that is easy for all employees and executives to understand and apply. Each description includes:

1) Job Responsibilities, Tasks, & Performance Measures

2) Critical Abilities and Attributes (aka competencies) needed to perform the tasks in a successful or superior manner.

3) Compilation of these competencies (typically 8-14), including competencies required to support the company’s mission, values, & strategy; with behavioral indicators for each competency (observable, measurable ways to demonstrate the competency)

Example – Project Manager position


Blogs

Tailor job competency models to your organization’s vision, mission, and shared values

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

Build Better Job Competency Models

Obtaining A Customizable Competency Dictionary

Learn how to build competency models the right way (workshop)


Workitect WebsiteCompetency Models
Competency Management System

References: Competency Models Are Failing. Why?

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Build or Buy a Competency Dictionary?

If you have decided to build competency models and/or include competencies in your HR applications, you will need to choose a method to use in building the models. Whatever method you choose, it will be much easier and faster to be able to draw on a list of specific competencies to include in each model. This list is also known as a competency “dictionary” or “library”. The alternative is to create the competencies as you develop each model. In this blog, we review three options for acquiring or developing a generic competency dictionary.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Competencies are:
Competencies are the skills and behaviors that outstanding performers demonstrate more often, more skillfully, and with better results than do average performers.
This is an example of a competency:
Empowering Others
Definition: Conveying confidence in employees’ ability to be successful, especially at challenging new tasks; delegating significant responsibility and authority; allowing      employees freedom to decide how they will accomplish their goals and resolve issues.

Behavioral Indicators (specific ways of demonstrating the competency in the job)

  1. Gives people latitude to make decisions in their own sphere of work
  2. Is able to let others make decisions and take charge
  3. Encourages individuals and groups to set their own goals, consistent with business goals
  4. Expresses confidence in the ability of others to be successful
  5. Encourages groups to resolve problems on their own; avoids prescribing a solution

A generic competency dictionary would contain a list of competencies, each described similar to the Empowering Others example shown above. 

Competency Models
A model is a group of related competencies that together describe successful performance for a particular job or role, in a particular organization. Most models contain 8-15 competencies. Here are some examples.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Options for Acquiring a Competency Dictionary/Library

1. DEVELOP YOUR OWN COMPETENCY DICTIONARY
You can develop your own models and a dictionary that includes using a list of specific competencies that you have developed on your own, possibly drawing on research on existing libraries.

Advantages:

  • Total flexibility on what competencies to select and how to describe them.
  • Out-of-pocket cost less than purchasing from most outside dictionary developers/licensors.
  • Will be tailored to your organization and use your organization’s language. More relevant to the organization’s unique environment.
  • Employees may be more committed to a competency model if they have been deeply involved in its development, and development of the dictionary.

Disadvantages:

  • Lack of research, testing, practical use, and validity.
  • Difficulty in clearly describing behavioral indicators of each competency.
  • May inadvertently reference copyrighted competency dictionaries and violate legal copyrights, incurring dollar penalties and negative publicity for the company. May violate ethics values and rules.
  • High total costs when factoring in amount of staff time and pay of developers.

2. PURCHASE A COMPETENCY DICTIONARY
From a large consulting firm such as Korn Ferry, HRSG, et al.

Advantages:

  • Capitalizes on the experience gained in other competency modeling projects, either in other companies or elsewhere in the same organization.
  • Incorporates research across multiple industries and organizations.
  • Comprehensive, large number of competencies (60 +)
  • Software that may integrate with other HRIS.
  • Efficiency – ensures consistency of competency language across an organization and that all potentially relevant competencies are considered
  • Can provide an excellent starting point in development of an organization’s competency model.
  • Large number of sales representatives to service accounts.

Disadvantages:

  • High initial cost plus high annual renewal fees.
  • Difficult and expensive to customize.
  • Seen by users as too complex or academic, not “real-world”, and difficult to understand and use.
  • Support from vendor to create models and applications, or train organization to build own models is expensive or non-existent.
  • Not tailored to the organization and use the organization’s language.
  • May not be effectively used to create competency models and included in applications.
  • Organizational members may not be as committed to a competency model if they have not been deeply involved in its development.

3. PURCHASE WORKITECT COMPETENCY DICTIONARY

Advantages:

  • Low one-time fee. No annual renewal fees.
  • Capitalizes on the experience gained in other competency modeling projects, either in other companies or elsewhere in the same organization.
  • Incorporates research across multiple industries and organizations. Used by more than 100 organizations of all sizes and industries.
  • Methodology for the building of competency models and development of the dictionary 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 consultants at McBer and Company.
  • Simpler, manageable 35 foundational (leadership, management, and professional) competencies, with definition and behavioral indicators by three role levels (Executive/Director- Manager/Supervisor-Professional/Specialist) and three levels of proficiency (Basic-Skilled-Expert)
  • Practical, tested, flexible (not software), easy to customize and tailor, e.g. modify title, add competencies.
  • Can be integrated into any HRMS
  • Efficiency – ensures consistency of competency language across an organization and that all potentially relevant competencies are considered
  • Can provide an excellent starting point in development of an organization’s competency model,
  • Instruction on how to use dictionary to build models with the help of a dictionary.
    Quick-Start Competency-Modeling instructional program plus 12 model templates, and the Building Competency Models 3-day certification workshop
  • A low-cost integrated talent management package is available. It includes Competency Interview Guides, Competency Development Guides, and 360° feedback assessments for the same 35 competencies.

 Disadvantages

  • Workitect is a small firm with no regional sales representatives. Support is provided by four senior consultants.
  • Integration with an organization’s HRMS (built internally or by vendor) requires IT assistance.
  • May require extra effort to “sell” Workitect and our approach because our name may not be as familiar to executives as are larger consulting firms that also provide executive search services.

Call 800-870-9490 or email edward.cripe@workitect.com for more information.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

Sign up to receive the Workitect E-Newsletter. Get valuable news, insights and practical knowledge sent to you every month. Workitect Blueprints keeps you informed about key issues facing today’s organizations—from producing superior leaders to creating superior organizations. Sign up here!

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Step 5 of Model Building Process – Completing the Competency Model(s)

Previous blogs have described steps 1 through 4 in Workitect’s competency modeling process. Step 4, Data Collection, was covered in these blogs:

Collecting Data to Build Competency Models
Secondary Data Collection Methods
Conducting Behavioral Event Interviews
Using Resource/Expert Panels to Build Competency Models                                     General Approach for Analyzing Data to Build a Competency Model

STEP 5 – BUILDING THE MODEL (S)

After you have coded and analyzed data gathered from resource panels, interviews, and other methods, you are ready to build (write and complete) the competency model. If you are constructing one competency model, the process includes the following steps:

  1. Select a set of 8 to 15 competencies to include in the competency model.
  2. Select or create behavioral indicators for each competency.
  3. Identify 3 or 4 competency clusters and group the competencies within these clusters.
  4. Create a definition for each competency.
  5. Prepare a draft competency model.
  6. Have the sponsor and key stakeholders review the draft competency model.
  7. Revise the draft model to accommodate reasonable suggestions from the sponsor and stakeholders.

The first three of these steps are usually done at a meeting of the analysts. Each of the steps will be described in detail in the sections that follow.

1. Select a Set of 8 to 15 Competencies to Include in the Competency Model

Why Should a Competency Model Have 8 to 15 Competencies

For most jobs, at least eight competencies are needed to capture the skills and personal qualities that contribute to superior performance. The more complex the job, the more competencies can be identified. But when there are more than 15 competencies, a competency model becomes difficult to use. For example, a competency assessment tool assessing 16 competencies with five items per competency would have 80 items – perhaps too many to rate in a reasonable amount of time. If the users of the competency model have a low tolerance for complexity, the number of competencies should be at the low end of the 8 to 15 range. If the users have a higher tolerance for complexity (for example, among engineers or scientists), the number of competencies can be at the high end of the same range.

Ways to Limit the Number of Competencies

For complex jobs, such as middle and senior management positions, it is often possible to identify 20 or more competencies that contribute to superior performance. But to ensure that the competency model is useful, it is necessary to limit the number of competencies. One way to do this is to remove and set aside competencies that would also be present in “feeder” jobs for the position under study. For example, when building a competency model for middle managers of engineers, you might remove Analytical Thinking and Managing Performance. Analytical Thinking would be needed in lower level engineering positions, and Managing Performance would be needed in first-level engineering management positions. Competencies removed in this way could either be eliminated completely from the competency model, or could be separately acknowledged as part of a set of “baseline” competencies for the position. It may be useful to identify and build applications for a set of baseline competencies, if many of the job-holders lack these competencies.

A second way to limit the number of competencies is to eliminate ones that appear less important in comparison to the others. For example, you could eliminate generic competencies that received fewer votes from the Resource Panel. If you conducted and coded Structured Event Interviews, the less important competencies include both ones occurring with low frequency among superior performers and ones occurring with similar frequency among outstanding performers and persons judged to be somewhat less effective.

A third way to limit the number of competencies is to combines ones that are conceptually related. For example, Interpersonal Awareness and Building Collaborative Relationships are conceptually related, because it usually takes some Interpersonal Awareness to build relationships. When combining competencies, you can retain one of the competency names while incorporating a few conceptually related behavioral indicators from the other
competency. The following pairs of competencies have conceptual similarities.

2. Select or Create Behavioral Indicators for Each Competency

If a generic competency framework has been used, you can review the behavioral indicators for a competency and either use the entire set or select the behaviors which seem appropriate for the job being studied. Behavioral indicators are specific ways of demonstrating the competency in the job. If you want to create new or additional behavioral indicators, be sure that each one clearly describes a behavior that would clearly facilitate effective performance. Behavioral indicators should not describe people’s perceptions of the job-holder (e.g., “is widely respected”). Start each behavioral indicator with a verb. This is an example of behavioral indicators for the competency of Empowering Others:

Definition of Empowering Others: Conveying confidence in employees’ ability to be successful, especially at challenging new tasks; delegating significant responsibility and authority; allowing employees freedom to decide how they will accomplish their goals and resolve issues.
Behavioral Indicators 

  1. Gives people latitude to make decisions in their own sphere of work
  2. Is able to let others make decisions and take charge
  3. Encourages individuals and groups to set their own goals, consistent with business goals
  4. Expresses confidence in the ability of others to be successful
  5. Encourages groups to resolve problems on their own; avoids prescribing a solution

If you conducted and analyzed Structured Event Interviews you may want to create some new behavioral indicators based on behaviors that did not fit any of the existing behavioral indicators in the generic competency framework.

3. Identify 3 or 4 competency clusters and group the competencies within these clusters

Clustering the competencies helps people remember the competencies. It is difficult to read and understand a list of 12 competencies but easier to deal with three clusters of four competencies each. The cluster names should be conceptually clear, as in this example:4. Create a definition for each competency

If you are using a generic competency framework, you can use the definitions from it, but you will need to create definitions for new competencies. You may want to revise the wording of the generic competencies, so that the definitions have high impact and use the language of the organization. This is especially true if you are developing a one-size-fits-all model that will be widely used in the organization.

Creating competency definitions is best done by persons who have reviewed the evidence from the data analysis and who are skilled at written communication. Here is an example of a competency definition that was created with the assistance of a professional writer.

Resilience: Complexity and change test the individual and the organization. When things don’t go as planned, leaders must stay focused and productive to bring others along with them.

5. Prepare a Draft Competency Model

 Since key stakeholders in the model (e.g., job holders and their managers) will need to “buy in” to the competency model, it is useful to create a draft version of the competency model and have them review it. Here is a possible format for the draft competency model.

Page 1:     The competency clusters with the competency names under each cluster
Page 2:     The competencies with definitions, grouped by cluster
Page 3:     Competency 1 followed by its definition and behavioral indicators.
Page 3.1   Competency 2 followed by its definition and behavioral indicators
etc.

6. Have the sponsor and key stakeholders review the draft competency model.

Review the draft competency model with the project’s sponsor first. If the sponsor approves, send the draft competency model to be reviewed by some of the people participated as Resource Panel members or interviewees. It may be desirable to reconvene the Resource Panel or to hold a conference call with panel members after they have had a chance to review the competency model.

7. Revise the draft model to accommodate reasonable suggestions from the sponsor and stakeholders.

The stakeholders often provide valuable input. For example, they may want to include a competency that you had eliminated because you thought it was less important than the ones you included. Try to accommodate reasonable suggestions, but resist making changes that violate the principles explained in this workbook.a

ADDITIONAL STEPS TO BE COVERED IN FUTURE BLOGS

A. Special situations in building competency models:
– Working with Competency Levels
– Working within a framework of Core Competencies
B. Prepare version(s) of the model(s) to be used in application(s)

_____________________________________________________________________________

Source/Reference:

Step 5 of Workitect’s six-step model building process as taught in the Building Competency Models certification workshop and practiced by Workitect consultants in the development of job competency models. Instruction on developing competency models is also contained in the Quick-Start Competency Modeling program that is included with Competency Dictionary licenses.

Simplify the Development of Competency Models.
Use Customizable Tools to Simplify Implementation
Purchase Separately or as a Set 

Utilize a comprehensive set of tools developed by Workitect. Each component is written in language that “makes sense” to people at all levels in an organization. You’ll save, time and money and have the confidence that your applications are based on tested, research-based content.

Each tool is derived from the 35 competencies in Workitect’s Competency Dictionary, and the competency models that are created. The Competency Development Guide and eDeveloper™ focus on ways to develop each of the 35 competencies. The Competency Interview Guides describe an interview process and interview questions for each competency. The 360° survey instrument provides assessment feedback for each competency.

©2018, WORKITECT, INC., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this work may be copied or transferred to any other expression or form without written permission or a license Workitect, Inc. – 800.870-9490 – consult@workitect.com

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General Approach for Analyzing Data to Build a Competency Model

STEP 4 – DATA ANALYSIS AND CODING

Previous blogs have described steps 1 through 3 in Workitect’s competency modeling process. Step 3, Data Collection, was covered in these blogs:

Collecting Data to Build Competency Models
Secondary Data Collection Methods
Conducting Behavioral Event Interviews
Using Resource/Expert Panels to Build Competency Models

The general approach for analyzing the data collected in step 3 has three steps:

  1. Reviewing/modifying a set of generic competencies that will be used as the conceptual framework guiding the analysis.
  2. Separately reviewing the evidence from each data collection method to identify a potential set of competencies, drawn from the generic competency framework.
  3. Reviewing and comparing the evidence across methods to identify a set of potential competencies to include in the competency model.

Each of these steps is described below. Note that the data analysis ends with identifying a potential set of competencies to include in the competency model. Moving from that step to building the actual competency model will be described in a separate blog.

Reviewing/Modifying a Set of Generic Competencies to Include in the Competency Model

If you are using a Multiple Jobs Approach to building the competency model, you will have already identified a set of generic competencies to serve as building blocks for the various competency models you are planning. If you are using the Single Job Approach or the One Size Fits All Approach, you may have used a set of generic competencies that were rated by a Resource Panel or by persons with whom you did Job Analysis Interviews. If, by chance, you have not yet begun to use a set of generic competencies, now is the time to start, because a framework of generic competencies is useful in guiding the analysis.

You will not necessarily end up with competencies as they appear in the initial generic competency framework. You may identify and add competencies that were not initially part of the framework. You may modify some of the competencies from the initial framework. But using the framework will facilitate the analysis of the data.

Based on the experience of collecting the data, you may already have some ideas about competencies that need to be added to the framework. For example, if you are preparing a competency model for Project Managers, you may have decided to add Project Management Knowledge to the framework as a technical skill/knowledge competency. It may be clear that the wording used to describe certain competencies can be improved by substituting language that better fits the job or organization. For example, if the organization in which you are working uses the term, “Driving Innovation” instead of “Managing Change,” you may want to change the competency name accordingly

If it is clear at the start of the data analysis process that changes like these will be needed, you might as well modify the generic competency framework now, so that you can look for and track evidence for these new or modified competencies during the analysis process. It will still be possible to modify generic competencies and add new competencies later on.

Separately Reviewing the Evidence Generated from Each Data Collection Method, to Identify a Set of Potential Competencies Drawn from the Generic Competency Framework

In this step you separately review the evidence from each of the data collection methods that you used – Job Analysis Interviews, for example – and try to answer the following question: Based on this data collection method alone, which competencies should be considered for inclusion in the competency model?

In carrying out this analysis, you may encounter direct evidence for certain competencies from the generic competency framework. For example, all or most of the participants at a Resource Panel may select a competency for inclusion in the competency model. Or, when analyzing Structured Interviews with superior performers, you may find that their descriptions of their behavior during key past events include many examples of some competency.

But your analysis may also reveal indirect evidence that a competency is important. For example, if you learn that an important task for sales representatives is to deliver formal and informal presentations to clients, this task implies the need for the competency, Persuasive Communication. Or if you learn that a key performance measure for a job is Customer Satisfaction, this implies the importance of the competency, Customer Orientation.

Review and Compare the Evidence Across Methods to Identify a Set of Potential Competencies to Include in the Competency Model

Although there will be some overlap in the competencies that are suggested by each data collection method, there will probably be some differences, at least in emphasis. Job Analysis Interviews with managers of persons in the job may lead to the identification of competencies that are most important and visible to the job holders’ managers. Interviews with customers of the job holders will highlight competencies that are most visible and important to customers. Structured Event Interviews may reveal thought processes that lead to the identification of competencies such as Conceptual Thinking that are not as likely to be surfaced through other data collection methods.

One way to compare the competencies revealed by different methods is to construct a matrix of generic competencies by methods, like the one below. You can omit generic competencies that are not identified as important in the analysis of any of the data gathering methods that you used. In each cell, use H, M, or L to indicate whether the competency seems high, medium or low in importance, based on data from this method. In the Overall column, make a judgment about the importance of including this competency in the competency model. You do not need to weight each data collection method equally.

AN OVERVIEW OF METHODS FOR ANALYZING DATA GATHERED DROM INDIVIDUALS

Details of this process, and instruction on analyzing and coding the data collected in step 3, are provided in the Workitect Building Competency Models workshop and practiced by Workitect consultants in the development of job competency models.

Analyzing Data from Job Analysis Interviews

Analyzing Data from Resource Panels
Analyzing Data from Structured Event Interviews
General Principle 1. Recognize Target Data
Target Data is defined as behaviorally specific information, volunteered by the interviewee in response to non-leading questions, about what the interviewee did, said, thought, or felt in one specific past situation.
General Principle 2. Focus on Effective, Impressive Behavior
General Principle 3. Code Against the Generic Competencies and Their Behavioral Indicators
This is one approach to implement coding:
A Simple Coding Process Using a Checklist
We have developed a simple coding process that is appropriate if you are doing a small number of Structured Event Interviews with superior performers and want to use the interviews to help identify behavioral indicators used by these persons.

This coding process involves using a checklist based on the framework of generic competencies and their behavioral indicators.

Reviewing and Analyzing Other Data
Survey Data, Customer Interviews, Observational Data

Details of this process, and instruction on analyzing and coding the data collected in step 3, are provided in the Workitect Building Competency Models workshop and practiced by Workitect consultants in the development of job competency models.

Instruction on developing competency models is also contained in the Quick-Start Competency Modeling program that is included with Competency Dictionary licenses.

©2018, WORKITECT, INC., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this work may be copied or transferred to any other expression or form without written permission or a license Workitect, Inc. – 800.870-9490 – licensing@workitect.com

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The Format and Content of Customized Competency Models

In a previous blog, we discussed the value of tailoring job competency models to an organization’s vision, mission, and shared values.
– The job duties of a position may differ by industry or business strategy, thus requiring different competencies for similar jobs.
– Tailored models permit an organization to imbed certain competencies in each model that reflect the vision, mission and shared values of the organization.

Companies that build their own models and external consultants who build models use a variety of formats. Effective models are written in a way to be easily understood by all users, in language that is used by the organization.

Most models developed by Workitect consultants include these sections:

  1. Overview of the Competencies by Cluster
  2. Definition and Behavioral Indicators of each Competency
  3. Overview of Most Important Responsibilities
  4. Major Responsibilities and Performance Measures

Options

  • Links between Responsibilities and Competencies
  • Technical and Knowledge Requirements
  • Future Scan – Potential Changes Affecting the Job in the Future
  • Recommendations on ensuring that incumbents have each competency, through selection, development, and/or training

This is an example of an Overview of the Competencies by Cluster

EXAMPLES of CUSTOMIZED COMPETENCY MODELS

Executive Team Model

Account Representatives Model

 

Web Host Managers Model

OTHER JOBS

Project Manager

Sales Consultant

Controller (Finance)

Branch Manager

RELATED WORKITECT BLOGS

Criteria for an Effective Competency Model

Using Resource / Expert Panels to Build Competency Models

Conducting Job Analysis Interviews

Behavioral Descriptors – Options for Job Competency Models

Build a Basic Competency Model Instruction

Read more about competencies and competency models. Contact Workitect for help in building competency models tailored to an organization.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

Sign up to receive the Workitect E-Newsletter. Get valuable news, insights and practical knowledge sent to you every month. Workitect Blueprints keeps you informed about key issues facing today’s organizations—from producing superior leaders to creating superior organizations. Sign up here!

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Focused Competency Development Program

The objective of this program is to improve each person’s performance in terms of their position-specific competencies, and the organization’s overall performance against those competencies, through feedback, coaching, and training.

Each targeted competency is trained in 2-4 hour modules followed by focused individual development efforts.

This approach consists of nine steps:

A. DEVELOP A COMPETENCY MODEL FOR THE POSITION OR JOB GROUP

1. Create a formal competency model for the specific job group.

A competency is an underlying characteristic of an individual, which can be shown to predict Superior or Effective performance in a job; and indicates a way of behaving or thinking, generalizing across situations, and enduring for a reasonably long period of time.

A competency model is a group of 8-14 related competencies that together describe successful performance for a particular job or role, in a particular organization.

Examples of Models. (PDFs)

Criteria for an Effective Job Competency Model

B. IDENTIFY THE STRENGTHS AND DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL AND THE TOTAL GROUP.

2. Customized 360°survey
A customized 360° feedback instrument based on the model is developed and administered.

The survey provides clear, concise feedback from direct reports, peers, internal customers and supervisors along with the participant’s self-assessment. The participant receives feedback on the degree to which he/she has been observed demonstrating competencies identified and listed in the group’s competency model, usually 8-14 competencies.

3. Feedback to each individual
Each participant receives a feedback report that identifies strengths and development opportunities. This is done in a session where the participants learn how to interpret and use the feedback to prepare individual development plans.

4. Identify the total group’s needs
For the group, this baseline assessment identifies which competencies are strengths and which require development in order to help the organization meet its long and short-term goals.

In addition, participant strengths and development areas can be used to identify optional team projects which can provide developmental experiences in desired competencies for group members.

C. PLAN AND CREATE A TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT APPROACH AND PROGRAM

Identify the competencies that are difficult to improve through training and development activities. Competencies such as Self-Confidence are better acquired through selection.

5. Plan the development approach and program
Based upon the baseline data, a training and development curriculum, including learning goals for each of the targeted competency development modules, is planned.

6. Develop training materials
Select or develop the required training materials. Materials already exist for many of the competencies.

 D. IMPLEMENT THE PROGRAM

7. Conduct training
Training for each targeted competency is delivered in 2-4 hour modules. Workitect’s instructors or an organization’s own instructors can be trained to conduct sessions.

8. Complete individual development plans
At the end of each module, participants work on their individual development plans, utilizing Workitect’s Competency Development Guide and online eDeveloper™. These guides contain tips and resources for the development of 35 specific competencies.
This is where the optional team projects can be introduced as a developmental approach for selected competencies.

9. Follow-up coaching
Managers are trained in coaching skills and in the use of the Competency Development Guide to help participants achieve their individual development goals.

Contact Workitect for additional information.

You are invited to join a LinkedIn group that I manage, Competency-Based Talent Management https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3714316 Our members would welcome your involvement in the group.

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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

_____________________________________________________________________________

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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