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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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.

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Conduct an On-Site Building Competency Models Workshop

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

Other benefits include being able to:

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

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

Google:

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

ac_white_stkAir Canada:

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

braskemBraskem (formerly Sunoco Chemical):

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

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

Kelly Elizardo
Director, Learning & Development

attachmentFranklin Templeton:

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

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

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

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

Deane Williams
Program Manager

Review a typical agenda for an on-site workshop.

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

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

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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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Include Competencies in a Succession Plan

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

The usual criteria for a succession planning system successful include:

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

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

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

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

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

                  Generic Organizational Structure: Feeder Jobs and Levels

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

ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES

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

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

STEPS IN DEVELOPING A COMPETENCY-BASED SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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How to include Technical Competencies in Competency Models

 

Technical iStock_000017398954MediumYou do not need a technical competencies dictionary in order to include technical competencies in your job competency models.

Identifying the Competencies                                                                                        In Workitect’s model-building methodology, technical competencies are determined through interviews, expert panels, and other methods as described in our “Developing Technical Competencies” blog, and as taught in our Building Competency Models and Creating Technical Competencies workshops. The purchase of a separate technical competency dictionary is not required.

One Method: The Technical Job Requirements Interview
One of the interview methods is the “technical job requirements interview”. This is a one-hour interview that can be used to identify the technical skills and knowledge needed in a single job or in a set of jobs with the same or similar responsibilities (e.g., Sales Representative, Customer Service Representative, Plant Manager, Financial Analyst). The interview can be conducted either with jobholders or managers of jobholders. The interview includes questions about (a) the technical qualifications and experience expected when someone is hired into the job, (b) the most important job responsibilities, and the technical skills and knowledge required to perform each main responsibility.

This interview can be used with superior performing jobholders or managers of jobholders. In either case the interviewees should be persons who have held the role for a minimum of 6 months and preferably at least a year. This interview takes about one hour to conduct. At least two of these interviews should be conducted for each job for which technical skill/knowledge requirements need to be established.

Describing the Competency in a Model
When it is determined that superior performers in a position require a high level of technical expertise in a specific field, the technical competency (or competencies) can be included in the competency model in these possible ways:

  • The identified competency can be listed under the Technical Expertise competency in our dictionary and described by job level and level of proficiency.
  • Include it as a separate competency without levels, with details of the competency described in a Major Responsibilities section. Example: Web Host Manager model.
  • List it in a separate section in the model. Example: page 14 in this Project Manager model.
  • Describe in levels and by major responsibilities totally customized to the organization and industry. Example

Example of Technical Competencies with Levels and Behavioral Descriptions

Microsoft Excel Skill: The ability to use Microsoft Excel to develop plans and analyses, and to prepare reports displaying the results of analyses in tabular and graphical format.

Levels General Descriptions of Levels Behavioral Descriptions of Levels
Basic Proficiency • Has completed a basic training course, if one is available.

• Has begun to apply skill/knowledge.

• Has completed Excel I course.

• Has prepared at least one analysis using Excel, with supervision.

Intermediate Proficiency • Has developed some breadth or depth of knowledge and skills, but has not mastered all areas needed for full proficiency.

• Has significant experience and practice applying knowledge and skills across many relevant areas.

• Has completed at least one Excel course beyond Excel I.

• Has prepared at least 6 analyses and reports using a variety of functionality.

 

Full Proficiency • Fluently applies the skills and knowledge in all applicable tasks performed in his/her organization.

• Has extensive experience and practice applying this skill area across all relevant areas.

• Has provided technical leadership of the full range of applicable tasks performed in his/her organization.

• Has completed at least 4 courses in Excel.

• Fluently uses look-up tables, queries, formulas for financial applications, pictures and drawings, pivot tables and what-if analyses;

• Has led the preparation of complex analyses and reports.

Expert • Has developed training materials and had extensive experience teaching this skill/knowledge area to others.

• Has cutting-edge knowledge of state-of-the-art application of this skill/knowledge area outside of the organization.

• Has developed new tools or technology for this area.

• Has developed and delivered advanced courses in Excl

• Develops applications for Excel, using Visual Basic

• Is recognized and sought out as an Excel expert within the company.

Learn more about Workitect’s consulting services, workshops, and products, including competency dictionary, interview guides, and development guides.

Join the LinkedIn Competency-Based Talent Management group.

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Criteria for an Effective Competency Model

In our consulting practice, I speak with many HR executives who tell me about the competency models they have developed in their organization and about the impact those models have had on their HR practices and the organization as a whole. Many say that they have already created competency models that they are either happy with or want to improve. And some want to trash what they have done and start over, or build models for the first time.

POPULAR MODEL-BUILDING PRACTICES

For those who have already created models, when asked to describe the process they used, many HR professionals say that the models were created by:

  1. Interviewing the CEO, other executives, incumbents of the position being modeled and their managers and asking for their opinion as to the competencies required by employees to carry out the organization’s strategic plan. The focus of the model is often on managers in the organization, and may be referred to as the leadership model.
  2. Collecting the same or similar information in a meeting or series of meetings or focus groups.
  3. Other means, such as card-sorting, surveys, computer selection, off-the shelf models, adaptations of job descriptions, self assessments by employees, etc.
  4. A combination of the above.

Models created using these methods often achieve their intended purpose. Competencies are incorporated into performance management, selection, training, and other HR applications. But, they are “basic” models. They, and the applications that are developed, are based on the opinions of various people about competencies required for specific jobs. They are not determined using a validated, research-based analysis of superior performers. There is a better way, a way that produces a far greater ROI for a model-building project

AN EFFECTIVE COMPETENCY MODEL – UNBIASED & ACCURATE

I believe that the best methodology for building job competency models is Job Competence Assessment (JCA), developed in the 1970’s by Dr. David McClelland, a pioneer in motivation and competency research and testing at Harvard, and by consultants at McBer and Company.

The modeling process starts with superior performers in a targeted job being identified, and then studied to identify the personal characteristics, skills, and knowledge that they possess that enables them to be superior performers. The methods used to collect data for the study, such as behavioral event interviews and expert panels, are designed to get beneath mere opinions about superior performance and superior performers. Since each organization has its own culture, mission, and ways of doing business, performance in one organization may require competencies that are different than those required in another organization. This is the reason that off-the-shelf models may not be useful.

These are the phases of this model-building methodology:

We have covered several of these specific steps in previous blogs and will examine additional ones in future blogs. A detailed description of the JCA methodology is provided in Competence At Work, a book by Spencer & Spencer and on pages 5-7 of Integrating Key Human Resource Processes, a 10-page booklet that describes competencies and how to create an integrated human resource system with applications for selection, succession planning, career pathing, performance management, and training.

In summary, JCA is an accurate, unbiased approach to predicting job performance and success. It is characterized by its rigorousness and yet its accessibility to managers and HR professionals with little or no background in statistics and competency research, the JCA methodology enables you to match the right people to the right jobs.

____________________________________________________________________________
REVIEW OF THE BASICS

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

What is a Competency Model? together describe successful performance for a particular job or role, in a particular organization.
Examples:
Account Representative (Distribution company)
Executives (Manufacturing company)
Marketing Representative (Insurance company)
Project Manager (High Tech)

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DISCUSSION QUESTION
What methodology have you used to build models and applications and how would you rate its effectiveness? What did you learn and what might you do differently next time?
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An adaptation of the JCA methodology is used in Workitect’s consulting practice and is taught in our Building Competency Models workshop.  It is also influences the content of our products, including the Competency Development GuideCompetency Interview Guides, and Competency Dictionary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Build your own job competency models

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

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

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

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

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

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

CompetencySteps_Banner

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

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

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

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

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

More information about the Building Competency Models workshop.

Join LinkedIn's Competency-Based Talent Management group

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

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