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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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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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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Benefits of an Integrated Competency Based HR System

There are many bottom-line benefits of a competency-based HR system. Employee motivation leads to increased productivity and higher profits.  But the real values of an integrated human resource system are more complex–and more powerful.  Focusing on competencies will renew your company.  You’ll uncover startling energies and synergies that can give you the responsive, competitive edge you need.  Here’s what you can expect:

Enhanced Management:  With corporate goals clearly defined and a system of employee rewards in place that supports those goals, managers feel empowered.  They communicate more effectively with subordinates and with each other. Work proceeds more efficiently.  Quality measures go up.

Motivated and Committed Employees:  By involving employees in building your new competency-based system, you  ensure their early engagement with it.  And because the new system rewards employees for overcoming real, daily challenges, workers develop a sense of appreciation and commitment.  Less time is lost to wasteful activities.  Employees put creative energy into completing their tasks.

Increased Organization Effectiveness:  As all levels of your organization align with company goals, overall effectiveness increases dramatically.  And the focus on adding and refining key competencies augments this increase continuously.  Individual employees become more effective and, as a whole, your company becomes more dynamic, more competent.

Easier Cultural Change and Organizational Improvement: 
A competency-based, integrated human resource system supports your company’s strategic direction.  Necessary change becomes simpler when both management and employee goals are defined in terms of the company’s success.  With little incentive to cling to older methods or attitudes, both management and employees participate more willingly when change is necessary.

Increased Resilience to Market Pressures:  Your company responds to outside stresses not as threats but as challenges.  At every level, the goal is not individual survival but group adaptation.  By linking employee well-being to corporate health, you tap the creativity and motivation you need to stay competitive.

Cost Savings and Increased Productivity:  An integrated human resource system cuts redundancy and waste.  It gives overlapping and competing departments incentive to cooperate and coordinate their work.  Individual employees see that they benefit by finding more efficient, effective ways to do their work.  Less time and material are wasted.  Productivity goes up.

Read a white paper on Integrating HR & Talent Management Processes.
Learn more about creating an integrated competency system for your organization.
Contact Workitect for information about our services and products.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September, 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Use a Competency Model Survey to Build a Competency Model

 

PURPOSE
The Competency Model Survey can be used alone or with other sources of data, to build a competency model when an organization chooses not to invest the resources to develop a customized competency model by using interviews and focus groups, as taught in Workitect’s Building Competency Models certification workshop.

PROCESS
The survey is completed on-line by several capable jobholders or managers of jobholders, persons who are highly knowledgeable about the job being assessed. Based on the responses to the survey, our report generator produces a report that includes: (a) a recommended set of the 10-12 Workitect competencies to comprise the competency model for the job and (b) a set of the job requirements that were rated most important for the job.

STRUCTURE
The survey begins with a few initial questions to identify the job, the organization, and the responder’s experience with job. Next are two questions asking responders to comment on the job’s main responsibilities and the most challenging tasks or situations typically encountered in the job. The main body of the survey consists of rating questions about the importance of various general job responsibilities and requirements.

Here are the steps for building a competency model when the survey is used alone:

  1. The project leader of the competency modeling process contracts with Workitect to use the survey to build a competency model for one job.
  2. The project leader identifies at least 2 solid performers in this job and at least 2 managers of persons holding this job and sends these persons the web link for completing the survey and asks them to complete the survey within one week.
  3. When one week has passed and the survey has been completed by at least 2 jobholders and 2 managers of jobholders, Workitect analyzes the data, prepares a report, and sends it to the project leader.
  4. The report includes a set of competencies that are most important for effectiveness in the target job, based on the responses of the survey participants. Each competency has a summary score indicating its importance to the job, and the competencies are listed in descending order of their summary scores, along with a recommendation about which competencies to include in the competency model.
  5. To get buy-in for the competency model, the project leader can invite all or some of the survey respondents to a meeting to review the report and make the final decision about which competencies to include in the competency model.

When the competency modeling project includes other sources of data besides the survey, the competency modeling team reviews the report of the survey results, along with the results from other data sources and determines which competencies to include in the competency model.

ANOTHER OPTION: JOB COMPETENCY PROFILE
This is an abridged competency model using a virtual resource panel and surveys to use when it is impractical to convene a standard resource panel of job incumbents, managers of job incumbents and other subject matter experts in one geographic location and at one time.

Contact Workitect for more information. 800-870-9490 or ec@workitect.com

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Behavioral Descriptors – Options for Job Competency Models

Much of the value of a competency model comes from its behavioral descriptors. There are three main options for Human Resources staff to consider: (1) behavioral indicators, (2) evaluative competency levels, and (3) competency levels describing job requirements.

1. Behavioral Indicators
The majority of competency models use the first and simplest option, behavioral indicators. Behavioral indicators are descriptions of behaviors and thought patterns that are hypothesized to contribute to superior performance. A competency’s definition represents an underlying ability or trait, and the behavioral indicators describe specific ways in which that ability or trait is demonstrated. For example, in a generic competency framework the competency, “Interpersonal Awareness,” has the following definition and behavioral indicators:

Interpersonal Awareness:  The ability to notice, interpret, and anticipate others’ concerns and feelings, and to communicate this awareness empathetically to others.
a) Understands the interests and important concerns of others.
b) Notices and accurately interprets what others are feeling, based on their choice of words, tone of voice, expressions, and other nonverbal behavior.
c) Anticipates how others will react to a situation.
d) Listens attentively to people’s ideas and concerns.
e) Understands both the strengths and weaknesses of others.
f) Understands the unspoken meaning in a situation.
g) Says or does things to address others’ concerns.
h) Finds non-threatening ways to approach others about sensitive issues.

When behavioral indicators are used in a specific competency model, they are sometimes altered or written more specifically, to describe how the behavior is demonstrated in this job. For example, indicator (b) above was rewritten for use in a sales competency model:
“Notices nonverbal behavior and asks questions, when appropriate, to clarify its meaning”

Creating good behavioral indicators depends on conducting and analyzing critical event interviews with outstanding performers. Each behavioral indicator is a theme derived from examples from several interviews. Behavioral indicators can also be taken or adapted from a generic competency dictionary, which includes generic competencies and behavioral indicators previously identified in several competency models.

2. Evaluative Competency Levels
The second option for behavioral descriptors is to use evaluative competency levels. Under this option, several key dimensions are identified for each competency, and each dimension is ranked in order of effectiveness. The highest level describes outstanding performance, and the lowest level describes poor performance. Lyle and Signe Spencer used this approach to develop a generic set of competencies with levels. For example, one generic competency, “Interpersonal Understanding,” has two aspects: (a) depth of understanding of others, and (b) listening and responding to others. Listening and responding to others has these levels:

-1 Unsympathetic
0  Not applicable or makes no attempt to listen
1  Listens
2  Makes self available to listen
3  Predicts others’ responses
4  Listens responsively
5  Acts to help

Each level has more specific behavioral descriptors, which are too lengthy to reproduce here. But, as an example, the behavioral descriptor for Level 4 is, “Reflects people’s concerns, is easy to talk to; or responds to people’s concerns by altering own behavior in a helpful, responsive manner.”

When this approach is used, the levels form a behaviorally anchored rating scale. Whether this kind of rating scale improves the reliability and validity of measurement is open to question, since behaviorally anchored rating scales have generally proved to be no more reliable and valid than other, simpler rating scales.

Rating scales with three or more levels for each dimension of a competency are generally too cumbersome. There are too many behavioral descriptions to read, when assessing someone on twelve competencies, each with two to four dimensions, with each dimension further broken down into four or more descriptors of different performance levels. It may be more useful to specify only the highest and lowest levels, as in the following example of a rating scale used to assess a competency called “Personal Credibility:”

ResearchReport_Chart_1

Creating behavioral descriptors in the form of evaluative performance levels is most useful when performance appraisal is planned as an immediate application. Once the competencies for the job are identified, the content for the rating scales can be determined by meeting with managers of persons in the target job. Key evaluative aspects for each competency can be discussed and identified.

3. Competency Levels Describing Job Requirements
A third option for descriptors is to create levels describing the extent to which a competency is required in a particular job. This alternative is most useful when the multiple competency models are being created within an organization and the Human Resources staff need a way to distinguish the requirements of the different jobs (e.g., to help people within the unit plan career progression paths). 

This approach was used in developing competency models for a variety of jobs in the commercial sales division of a manufacturing company supplying optical fiber for the telecommunications industry. The first step was to agree on a set of generic competencies, including both technical and non-technical ones, to describe the skill requirements for jobs in the commercial sales division. This was accomplished by reviewing, modifying, and adding to a generic competency dictionary. Next, drawing on the generic competency dictionary and other projects involving competency levels, a set of levels for the competencies was drafted. Drafting the levels required first identifying several key dimensions for each competency and then writing behavioral descriptors of several levels. In this case, the internal Human Resources project team wanted three levels specifying basic, intermediate, and advanced demonstrations of each aspect of each competency. The levels for one competency, “Energizing Others,” are shown below:

ResearchReport_Chart_2

As one moves from the basic level to the intermediate and advanced levels, the competency is demonstrated in larger groups and more challenging situations. The behavioral descriptions often target performance outcomes rather than specific behaviors demonstrated to achieve the outcomes.

In deciding which type of behavioral descriptors to use – behavioral indicators, evaluative performance levels, or levels describing job requirements – the most important consideration is how the model will be used. Sometimes, when a model will be used in multiple ways, more than one set of behavioral descriptors may be created. For example, behavioral indicators might be needed to support development planning, and evaluative performance levels to support performance appraisal. 

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

This blog addresses question #6. Each question is addressed in Key Questions to Answer before Building Competency Models, Adapted From Practical Questions for HR Professionals Who Are Building Competency Models—a Consultant’s Experience By Dr. Richard S. Mansfield.

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Three Approaches To Competency Model Building

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

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

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

Single Job Competency Model

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

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

Data Gathering for the Single Job Approach

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

Advantages of the Single Job Approach

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

Disadvantages of the Single Job Approach

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

When the Single Job Approach is Appropriate

This approach is most appropriate when:

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

More about the…..

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

Reprint: Building Competency Models – Approaches for HR Professionals

As taught in Workitect’s Building Competency Models workshop.

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Interviewing and Assessing “Strategic Thinking” Competence

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What is a Strategic Thinking Competency?

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

 Behaviors:

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

Using a Competency Interview Guide

Download the complete interview guide for Strategic Thinking.

Use a Competency Interview Guide to assist in the behavioral interviewing process. It provides specific questions and probes for the behaviors of the competency. In addition, positive and negative behavioral indicators are listed that will help evaluate the candidate’s responses. While the process described below is designed for multiple interviewers seeing each candidate, it can be completed with only one interviewer.

Prior to the interview:

  • Review the candidate’s resume.
  • Review the assigned the competency(s) and the behaviors that comprise each competency.
  • Select the specific questions you feel comfortable asking each candidate. Note: Not all the questions need to be used – select at least two questions.

During the interview:

  • Greet the candidate and spend a few minutes building rapport; talk about areas the candidate is interested in.
  • Transition into the formal interview.
  • Ask the selected questions and use follow-up probes to get complete examples of the:
    • Situation that the candidate encountered;
    • Actions that the candidate took;
    • Results or outcome of the actions taken.
  • Give the candidate time to think about past examples/experiences when answering the questions.
  • Ideally get at least 2-3 examples for each question.
  • Use this guide to take notes and evaluate the candidate.

Following the interview:

  • Check off appropriate behavioral indicators and summarize key observations and notes. Rate the candidate on each assigned competencies in the space provided at the bottom of each page.
  • Note any observations for competencies not assigned and be prepared to discuss.
  • After completing, interviewers should meet to discuss and reach consensus on the final ratings for each candidate and complete the Candidate Interview Summary.
  • Make the hiring decision.

Examples of Behavioral Questions and Probes

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

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

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

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

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

Download the complete interview guide for Strategic Thinking.

Learn more about Competency Interview Guides for 35 competencies.

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Roadmap to Business Partnering for HR Professionals

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

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

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

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

An employee demonstrating this competency:

HR’s link to the organization

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

HR as a strategic partner

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

Strategic problem solving

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

Internal customer relationship management

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

General Considerations in Developing This Competency

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

Practicing This Competency

As a Team Member

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

As a Team Leader

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

Obtaining Feedback

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

Learning from Experts

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

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

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

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

Sample Development Goals

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

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

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

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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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