How to Improve the Influencing of Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practicing this Competency

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

Obtaining Feedback
Before implementing an influence strategy, discuss it with others and ask for their feedback and suggestions. After an interaction in which you tried to enlist the support of an individual or group, ask a colleague who was present for feedback and suggestions on your influence efforts.

Learning from Experts
Look for opportunities to work closely with skilled influences on tasks requiring the development of influence strategies e.g., planning a presentation or sales call, leading a group to achieve a particular outcome.
Observe a skilled influencer using influence skills in situations such as sales calls, speeches, meetings with subordinates, meetings to build relationships. Notice what the person says, how he/she says it, and the verbal and nonverbal reactions of the persons present.
Interview a skilled influencer about times when this person successfully influenced others. Try to get the sequence of what the person did and thought. Recognize that the person you interview may be reluctant to discuss some influence efforts, particularly those used to influence the person’s current supervisor.

Coaching Suggestions for Managers
If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:

  • Involve this person in some of your own influence efforts and share your thinking about your goals, plans, and the reasons underlying them.
  • Provide assignments requiring the use of influence skills: e.g., developing a presentation to senior management; planning a meeting with another group whose cooperation is needed. Provide suggestions and feedback on the planning and implementation of influence strategies.
  • Provide opportunities for this person to work closely with skilled influences.

Sample Development Goals

  • By September 10, I will read Getting to Yes, by Fisher and Ury and use what I learn to develop a strategy for gaining the cooperation of the R&D Division.
  • By November 3, I will hold meetings to build relationships with 5 individuals from other departments, whose support I may need over the coming year.
  • Before the October 5 sales meeting with Central Information, I will call the two project managers they are inviting to that meeting to learn what they would like to gain from the meeting. I will then plan and deliver a presentation that addresses these needs and interests.
  • By December 15, I will complete a course on Influencing Others.

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

Other Applications

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

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

Contact us for additional information.

Join our LinkedIn Competency-Based Talent Management Group.

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

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

A. Clear Job Requirements:

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

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

B. Objective Performance Reviews:

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

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

C. Evaluation of Career Potential:

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

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

D. Clear and Concise Feedback:

Is there a common language to communicate development opportunities?

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

E. Achievable Development Plans:

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

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

DEVELOPING COMPETENCY GOALS

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

For each competency you have targeted for development:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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Six Steps to Conducting a Behavioral Event Interview

sr-woman-interview

Regardless of how you view today’s economy, if your job involves acquiring talent for your organization, you know that interviewing, assessing, and selecting the best candidates for key jobs remains as challenging as ever.

Even more challenging is finding candidates who have been superior performers in their current job and who are likely to be superior performers in a new job. To do so, it is first necessary to have a clear picture of what constitutes “superior performance” and the competencies possessed by superior performers that enables them to be superior performers. Job competency models serve such a purpose. Developing job competencies models utilizes a special behavioral event interviewing (aka BEI) technique

The basic principle of the competency approach is that what people think or say about their motives and skills is not credible. Only what they actually do, in the most critical incidents they have faced, is to be believed. The purpose of the BEI method is to get behind what people say they do to find out what they really do. This is accomplished by asking people to describe how they actually behaved in specific incidents.

More about the Purpose of a BEI

The goal of the behavioral event interview is to identify the competencies needed to do various jobs. Its nearest relative is the searching clinical interview, in which the goal is to identify the individual’s chief characteristics that have lead to maladjustment. In the behavioral event interview the focus is what it takes to do a given job well. Since individuals may adjust to a job idiosyncratically, it is necessary to interview several incumbents and try to determine what characterizes good performers as contrasted with poor performers. In isolating the competencies needed, the interviewer should keep in mind what is measurable. When the interviewer has formulated the competencies that are needed, he or she will test these judgments by finding measures of them and determine if those who perform the job well score higher on these measures than those who perform poorly. When these hypotheses about the competencies needed for a job are cross-validated in this way, the measures can be used to select better qualified people or to train people better for the job.

The Basic Technique

One of the best methods of getting the information to assess the competencies needed for a job is to elicit very detailed behavioral descriptions of how a person goes about doing his or her work. Sometimes this may be done by asking a number of job incumbents to write out critical incidents, following a technique first popularized by Flanagan (1954). However, these incidents may not be detailed enough to figure out just what the person was thinking and doing. Therefore, it is usually better to interview a few incumbents in depth. This permits a more thorough exploration of each episode reported until all the relevant behaviors have been elicited. To distinguish this technique from Flanagan’s well-known critical incident approach, it should be referred to as the behavioral event interview technique. The interviewer should realize at all times that the purpose of the interview is to get raw behavioral data which can be used to conceptualize the competencies that are required for doing the job well.

Above all, the interviewer must avoid being caught up in the interviewee’s concepts of
what it takes to do his or her job. Every person has some ideas about what he or she is like and how he or she does things. In some cases these ideas may be accurate but often they are not, and the interviewer must avoid asking questions that simply elicit the interviewee’s concepts. The interviewer must keep pushing for the behaviors — the thoughts and actions — that the interviewee demonstrated on a given occasion.

Use of a tape recorder is recommended to save every detail of the interview for future uses, such as developing case materials and other learning aids. Its most immediate use is to help you reconstruct your interview notes when you do your summary writeup. However, there is no substitute for good note-taking, especially if you have a mechanical failure. Don’t expect to use the recorder like a crutch and your notes will be all you will need to write up the interview, saving you the time you would ordinarily have to spend listening to the interview all over again.

How to Conduct the Interview

Step 1. Explanation

Everyone will want to know why he or she is being interviewed. Your explanation might go something like this:

“I’ve been asked to try to figure out what competencies it takes to do your job. The best
approach seems to be to ask a person who is doing a job how he or she does it. You are the obvious expert in what it take to be (whatever the person does). We’re just going to talk for awhile about some examples of how you do your job”.

Optional, depending on the interviewee’s curiosity and/or your mandate:

“This is part of a program which should lead to better selection and training for the job. If we can identify the competencies needed for a job, we can select people who have those competencies needed for the job or train job incumbents to develop the necessary competencies to a fuller extent”.

At this point you should get the permission of the interviewee for you to tape-record the interview. You can explain it this way:

“With your permission, I would like to record parts of this interview to help me with my notes.
Everything you say will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone else in
(interviewee’s organization). But if there is anything you want to say off the record or don’t want me to record, just let me know and I’ll turn off the tape”.

Step 2. Duties and Responsibilities

It is a good idea to break the ice by getting the interviewee talking about what he or she does in a general way, that is, about what his or her duties and responsibilities are.

“Let’s begin by taking about what your responsibilities are in your job. I really know nothing about what it takes to be a good (policeman, naval officer, manager, etc.). What do you do? Where do you work? Whom do you work with? What are your hours? Whom do you report to? Who reports to you?”

The objective here is to get the interviewee talking in as free and relaxed a way as possible about his or her job. Sometimes interviewees have difficulty getting started, but most of them find it easy to talk about their work and they like telling others what they do. It is wise not to push the behavioral event approach on them too soon; lead into it gradually.

Often in the course of describing their work, interviewees will say things that puzzle you or that you want clarified. For example, a police captain may say, “Well, I supervise the lieutenants”. Here he is simply quoting a job description to you and your problem is to find out what he means. So you say “Could you explain a little more what you mean by ‘supervise’? Do they write reports for you to read? Do they come in to talk with you first thing in the morning, or when they leave? Do you observe them working with the patrolmen? What is the chance you would get to know they were doing something wrong or to give them some direction? It helps most if you can describe an actual case where you supervised someone”.

Step 3. First Behavioral Event

Hopefully this questioning about duties will lead to a critical event which you can ask the interviewee to describe in detail so that you can get a better idea of how the job is done and what characteristics it takes to do it well. You may say something like:

“To get a better idea of what supervision consists of, can you think of an instance where
you were able to help someone do his or her job better, or keep him or her from making a mistake? I need an example of just how you operate”.

It is hard to generalize about just how you will hit on the first incident since it should come up naturally in the course of discussing various responsibilities. But once you have got the interviewee talking about a particular event, you should push hard for behavioral detail.

“Now let me get the setting straight. Let’s begin at the beginning. Where were you? What time of day was it? What had you been doing when this came up? What was in your mind?”

You may want to ask what kind of day it was (raining?) or how the interviewee was feeling, to recreate the whole scenario. Here you become an investigative reporter, pushing to get clear in your mind just what happened. Asking for time, place and mood often helps the interviewee recall the episode, since all the person has left in his or her mind usually is some memory of how it all turned out which he or she told you first anyway. You should have in mind the following questions as the interviewee begins to tell the story:
– What led up to the event?
– What was the person thinking? (of the individual he or she was interacting with, of the       situation,etc.)
– What did the person do, and why?
– What was the person feeling, wishing?
– How did it all turn out?

You are interested in the interviewee’s:
– Perceptions of the people and the situation
– Thoughts
– Acts
– Feelings
– Conclusions for future reference

Try to get the interviewee to begin at the beginning and take you through the story as it unfolded. Otherwise you may get confused about what happened and who did what. This may be difficult because the interviewee will usually start by remembering the outcome of an event. Just say, “That’s exactly what I had in mind. Now let’s start at the beginning so that I can understand what happened”. As the interviewee tells you all this, you are learning things about him or her, and you should ask questions that will verify or double-check inferences you are beginning to draw about his or her competencies. In all questioning, however, be sure that you are giving the interviewee plenty of reinforcement for what he or she is telling you. You are not the FBI. You should laugh with the interviewee, tell stories of your own if necessary to keep the flow of talk informal and pleasant, constantly reinforce him or her for the help he or she is giving you in clarifying what goes on
in this job.

Your objective is to get the interviewee to tell you little vignettes, scenarios of things that happened to him or her. Some people need a lot of encouragement and stimulation to really get into the process of telling a story.

Step 4. Further Behavioral Events

You may find it easy in talking about an event in the area of supervision to move on to an example of when things didn’t go well:

“That helps me understand much better what supervision involves. Now, can you think of an instance in which you feel you didn’t carry out supervision as well as you might have? That will help me also, because it will identify the characteristic one ought to show in such situations”.

If the interviewee can’t think of one, you can make a few suggestions (“Did you ever have to fire somebody?” “Did you ever have problems with any of your subordinates?”) and if the interviewee still blocks (an unusual occurrence!) you can go to some other area (“Well, can you think of a time when things didn’t go well on the job?”). Again, when the interviewee comes up with and event, ask first for time, place and setting, and then go into detail.

In all, it is best to try to get detailed descriptions of three events where the interviewee was effective and three events where the interviewee was ineffective. but there is nothing magical about these numbers. The crucial question is whether you are learning what it takes to do this job well.

Occasionally you will run into someone who blocks when you ask him or her for an example of something that went particularly well or poorly. The interviewee just can’t seem to think of anything important. In that case, don’t keep pressing him or her; your main goal of getting the interviewee to talk about how he or she performs on the job may only be interfered with as he or she gets more frustrated or annoyed about not being able to do what you want. Then you should use other approaches to get the interviewee to talk, such as asking the person to take you through what he or she did yesterday or probing in detail, or just how he or she goes about supervising someone through an example.

Remember, the goal is to get the interviewee to talk about the way he or she does the job.
Any method of doing that is legitimate.

Step 5. Characteristics

It is often useful at the end of the interview to ask the interviewee what characteristics he or she thinks a person ought to have to do his or her job well. This serves the double purpose of establishing good relations by asking the interviewee’s opinion and also of giving you some further insight into what he or she thinks is important. For example, if none of the good incumbents thinks to mention interpersonal skills, you may want to infer that incumbents in this job can get along without caring much about interpersonal relationships.

Step 6. Summary and Writing

After the interview is over it is a good plan to sit down quietly for an hour and summarize what you have learned. This may include a brief characterization of the person you have just interviewed. It also helps you define things about which you are still unclear. In other words, it is a time to make your budding hypotheses explicit so that you can check them in later interviews. If you have the time, this is the best point to write up the entire interview, while your memory is still fresh.

Reference: Spencer, L. M. & Spencer, S. M. (1993). Competence At Work. New York: Wiley, 114-134

FUTURE BLOGS

THREE PITFALLS TO AVOID IN INTERVIEWING
FIVE COMPETENCIES TO HAVE IN MIND
COMPARISONS OF JOB ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
COMMON INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES
FOUR COMMON INTERVIEWING STYLES
FEATURES OF THE BEI TECHNIQUE
ADVANTAGES OF THE BEI TECHNIQUE

Note: This information can also be found in the Research & Support section of the Workitect website.

The BEI technique has been adapted and taught in Workitect’s Building Competency Models workshop and Interviewing for Competencies workshop as the Structured Event Interview.

The methodology is also applied in Workitect’s set of 35 Competency Interview Guides.

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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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Add Competencies to Performance Reviews

 

Performance Review

Many organizations are becoming more interested in management and appraisal of competence – the “how” of performance. They are seeking more qualitative assessment, oriented to the future and focused on development. A competency approach brings a different perspective to performance management. Performance is viewed in terms of the process employees use to achieve their job results. It combines planning, management, and appraisal of both performance results and competency behaviors. It assesses what employees accomplished and how they did it (with personal characteristics they possess that predict superior performance in present jobs, or in future jobs).

Performance and competence are balanced in a competency-based performance management system. In a line job, achievement of performance results may be weighted 90 percent and demonstration of competency behaviors only 10 percent. At the other extreme, an appraisal form for a service position might weight competence 100 percent. Performance objectives for a staff job might give equal weight to results and demonstration of competency behaviors.

In traditional systems, achievement of performance results is quantified, past oriented, and tied to unit goals, based on a short term, and used to make compensation decisions. Competency appraisal is more qualitative, longer range, future oriented, and used for employee devel¬opment and career path planning.

PERFORMANCE (“pay for results”)
50%-90%
• “What” of performance
• Quantitative: Tied to unit goals
• Short time frame: One year, past
performance
• Reward oriented

COMPETENCIES (“pay for skill”)
10%-50%
• “How” of performance
• More qualitative
• Longer time frame: Future
performance in present and future jobs
• Development (behavior change)
oriented

Steps in Developing a Competency-Based System

1. Identify competencies required for superior performance in present or future jobs (competencies needed to implement a desired strategic change).

2. Train managers and employees in performance management (e.g., coaching for performance improvement). Performance coaching involves:

a. Agreement between manager and employee on his or her “actual” levels of competence. An employee’s competency levels are most easily assessed with “360 degree” ratings by colleagues “all around” the employee (i.e., by his or her boss, and a sample of peers, subordi¬nates, and customers who know the employee’s work well). The average of these ratings is compared with the employee’s self-assessment of his or her competencies.

b. The employee identifying the “desired” levels of competence he or she wants to develop to meet his or her own performance or career advancement goals.

c. Agreement on a “contract” between employee and manager on
• The employee’s competency development goals and the action steps he or she will     take to attain them
• The help and support the manager will give the employee

This coaching approach uses the principles of “self-directed change” theory, which holds that adults change only when they:

• Feel it is in their own best interests to do so
• Feel dissatisfied with their existing situation or level of performance (“actual”)
• Are clear about a “desired” situation or level of performance
• Are clear about action steps they can take to move from the actual to the desired situation or level of performance

Competency-based performance management systems shift the emphasis of appraisal from organization results achieved to employee behaviors and competencies demonstrated. Diagnosis and problem solving to deal with poor performance takes this form: “If results are not at the desired level, give higher priority to these job tasks, demonstrate these behaviors more often, and develop these competencies” (i.e., model the task priorities, behaviors, and competency levels of the best performers in the job).

The addition of competencies to performance management systems has important implications for management. Managers explicitly commit themselves to provide employees with formal training, coaching, and other competency development activities during the performance period.

The most important factor in implementing a competency-based performance management system is training managers to provide this coaching and developmental assistance. (Studies of effective performance management systems consistently find training to be an important input.) Employee training also helps employees understand how the system works, what their role is, how to assess themselves, and how to contract for competency development activities with their managers. Read about organizational issues.  A Blueprint for Competency-Based Performance Management

Also:
Make Performance Management a Positive Experience

Workitect’s consulting services  for creating competency models and competency-based talent management applications

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Developing the Competency of Fostering Diversity

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

Importance of Fostering Diversity

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

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

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

An employee demonstrating this competency:

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

General Considerations in Developing this Competency

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

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

Practicing this Competency

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

Obtaining Feedback

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

Learning from Experts

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

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

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

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

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

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

Sample Development Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Us Help You

Organizations can provide every employee with the content of the Competency  Development Guide, and customize it to their needs, through the purchase of an intellectual property license.

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

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Do your executives and managers need a Global Perspective?

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

What is a “global perspective”?

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

A person demonstrating this competency:

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

General Considerations in Developing this Competency

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

Practicing this Competency

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

Obtaining Feedback

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

Learning from Experts

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

Coaching Suggestions for Managers

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

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

 Sample Development Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Develop Results-Driven Leaders

Results-Driven TeamResults Orientation is a competency that is defined as focusing on the desired end result of one’s own or one’s unit’s work; setting challenging goals, focusing effort on the goals, and meeting or exceeding them. A person demonstrating this competency:

  1. Develops challenging but achievable goals
  2. Develops clear goals for meetings and projects
  3. Maintains commitment to goals, in the face of obstacles and frustrations
  4. Finds or creates ways to measure performance against goals
  5. Exerts unusual effort over time, to achieve a goal
  6. Has a strong sense of urgency about solving problems and getting work done

Importance of this Competency

Results Orientation enables an individual to set and achieve challenging goals. People with this competency keep their goals and performance measures firmly in mind, so that they accomplish more in a shorter period of time. This competency is also an advantage after downsizing, because staff of a leaner organization must accomplish more work and become more productive.

General Considerations in Developing this Competency

One of the best ways to develop this competency is to work closely with a manager or team leader who demonstrates it. These people set challenging but achievable goals and milestones, regularly checking their progress against goals. They also demonstrate a sense of urgency about achieving goals. You may also find it helpful to read one of our guides that address goal setting. In addition to the ideas below, examine the time management readings and listed under Analytical Thinking in Workitect’s Competency Development Guide.

Practicing this Competency

  • Prepare a set of personal work-related goals for the next two weeks. List what you will do in specific terms.
  • The next time you are in charge of a meeting, prepare an agenda that includes specific objectives. Keep the group on track to ensure that you meet all objectives for the meeting.
  • Find ways to measure your own work or a team’s work. First identify the most important outcomes you are working toward with each key task. Develop a way to measure each key outcome. For example, if you are in a Sales group, you might measure number of cold calls, number of customer meetings, number of proposals, and number of sales closed per week. Once you have identified the measures, graph each measure to track trends over time. For example, one graph might plot number of customer meetings held per week.
  • If you are on a team, push the team to identify specific goals with deadlines and specific team members accountable for their completion.

Obtaining Feedback

Prepare a set of goals for your own work or for a team of which you are a part. Show the goals to someone whose judgment you respect. Ask if the goals represent the right balance between being challenging and being achievable. A good set of goals should be challenging enough to provide positive motivation and realistic enough to be achievable with some extra effort.

Learning from Experts

Interview someone who has achieved impressive results. 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.

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 unit.
  • 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 which involve having the person work closely with someone who is strong in Results Orientation

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 cubicle.

– By March 4, I will ensure that the Distribution Reassessment Team 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.

Resources

Books

Getting Results: Five Absolutes for High Performance, by Clinton Longenecker & Jack L. Simonetti. New York, NY: Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Goals and Goal Setting, Third Edition: Achieving Measured Objectives, by Larrie Rouillard. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications, Inc., 2002.

Performance Management: Changing Behavior that Drives Organizational Effectiveness, by Aubrey Daniels & James Daniels. Tucker, GA: Performance Management Publications, 2004.

Process Reengineering in Action: A Practical Guide to Achieving Breakthrough Results, by Richard Y. Chang. New York, NY: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

Root Cause Analysis: Improving Performance for Bottom-Line Results, Third Edition, by Robert J. Latino & Kenneth Latino. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2006.

The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting On What Matters, by Peter Block. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2002.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Ltd., 2005.

Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, by David Rock. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishing, 2009.

 

External Courses

Building Better Work Relationships: New Techniques for Results-oriented Communication. Three days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441.http://www.amanet.org/training/seminars/Building-Better-Work-Relationships-New-Techniques-for-Results-oriented-Communication.aspx

Getting Results Without Authority. Three days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441.

The Fundamentals of Structural Thinking. Four days. Robert Fritz, Inc. Tel. 800 848-9700.

Directory of Resource Providers

This same level of information is available for 34 additional competencies that are a part of Workitect’s Competency Dictionary. Workitect helps individuals and organizations to develop competencies and competency models. We customize guides and provide licenses for the use of development guides throughout an organization. Contact us to learn more about the range of tools we provide. 

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