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

 

OFF-THE-SHELF COMPETENCY MODELS ARE NOT EFFECTIVE

We often get requests from organizations wanting to acquire off-the-shelf generic competency models. Can a generic off-the-shelf competency model be effective?  Don’t jobs with the same title require pretty much the same competencies in all organizations? Yes and No. I have yet to build a model for a sales job that didn’t include “influencing others” or “persuasive communications” as a competency. But, top performing sales people in one organization may have a team selling approach requiring the “fostering teamwork” competency, while it not being important in a different organization. And how is it possible for someone who is successful in one company to go to another company in what appears to be an identical position, and not be successful?

The job duties of a position may differ by industry or business strategy, thus requiring different competencies. Each organization has its own culture and “way of doing business”. Even a small difference could be critical.

Tailored models also permit an organization to imbed certain competencies in each model that reflect the vision, mission and shared values of the organization.

 

Workitect consultants only build models that are tailored to an organization, and teach internal consultants how to build their own tailored models in our Building Competency Models workshop, next scheduled for November 7-9.

Learn more about Workitect’s model building methodology and competency dictionary that is used to facilitate the building of models.

Our Model-Building Methodology
Our methodology for building job competency models is based on the Job Competence Assessment (JCA) methodology developed by Dr. David McClelland, a pioneer in motivation and competency research and testing at Harvard, and by the consultants at McBer and Company.

The modeling process starts with superior performers in a targeted job being identified, and then studied to identify the personal characteristics, skills, and knowledge that they possess that enables them to be superior performers. The methods used to collect data for building the model, such as behavioral event interviews and expert panels, are designed to get beneath mere opinions about superior performance and superior performers. Therefore, subjective data derived through group discussion, voting, or card-sorting are not components of our process.

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Use an Expert Panel to Build a Basic Competency Model

Using Expert Panels, Focus Groups and Job Analysis Interviews. 

Many small and medium-size organizations want to develop competency models and integrate competencies into their talent management and HR systems. Unfortunately, many are constrained by limited budgets to use consultants or purchase competency dictionaries, software, interview guides, etc. In response to this problem, Workitect developed and began conducting a three-day workshop in 2004 to train internal HR professionals to build their own competency models. More than 1,200 people have attended these workshops and have built models using our methodology.

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 The McClelland/McBer Model-Building Methodology

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

The modeling process starts with superior performers in a targeted job being identified, and then studied to identify the personal characteristics, skills, and knowledge that they possess that enables them to be superior performers. The methods used to collect data for building the model, such as behavioral event interviews and expert panels, are designed to get beneath mere opinions about superior performance and superior performers. _____________________________________________________________________________

Thirty years ago, we conducted research on job competence assessment and created a generic competency dictionary that has been tested and has evolved into a practical, comprehensive, and affordable dictionary consisting of 35 foundational competencies (leadership, management, and professional). Many organizations are now using this dictionary to build models and applications.

Still, many organizations are finding it difficult to launch a competency-modeling project, often due to a lack of time, staff, or budget. To help these organizations, we have taken material from our Building Competency Models workshop and developed a program to enable a competency dictionary licensee to build basic competency models using focus groups, supplemented with optional job task analysis interviews.

The program consists of these instructional materials:

  1. Overview of Competencies and Competency Models (16 page PDF)
  • What is a Competency?
  • What is a Competency Model?
    • Example of a Competency Model
  • Why Develop Competency Models?

            Integrating Key HR Processes (10 page PDF)
            Competencies 101 (Powerpoint)
            The Case for a Competency-Based HR System (Powerpoint)

  1. Planning a Competency Modeling Project (8 page PDF)
  • Analyzing and Identifying Stakeholders
    • Stakeholder Analysis Table
  • Structure of the Plan
  • Communicating with Stakeholders and Employees

        Worksheet for Planning a Competency Modeling Project (13 page PDF)

  • Scope of the Project
  • Organizational Context
  • Selecting the Approach to Model Building
  • Building Support for the Project
  • Deciding on Data Sources
  • Staffing the Model Building Project
  • Envisioning the Data Analysis and Model Building
  • Reviewing and Revising the Model
  1. Collecting Data & Developing a Basic* Competency Model (14 page PDF)            Using Focus Groups and Job Analysis Interviews
  • General Data Collection Tasks
  • Primary Data Collection Methods
    • Job Analysis Interviews
    • Resource Panels, aka Focus Groups or Expert Panels
      • Instructional manual on facilitating a Resource Panel
      • Alternative Methods
        • Virtual Resource Panel & Job Competency Profile
        • Competency Model Survey

     Resource Materials (separate documents and forms)

  • Competency Requirements Questionnaire
  • Competency Requirements Questionnaire Tabulation worksheet
  • Job Analysis Interview for Jobholders Template
  • Job Analysis Interview for Managers of Jobholders Template
  • Competency Dictionary

*A full model includes the conducting, analyzing, and coding of structured behavioral event interviews.

  • Licensees are expected to attend a future public or onsite workshop to learn how to collect and analyze additional data, including structured behavioral event interviews, and to develop competency-based applications.
  • Guidebook users will be given access to all materials in Dropbox folders.
  • Word versions of some customizable documents and forms are available.
  • Phone or live online coaching from a Workitect consultant is available.

THIS PROGRAM IS AVAILABLE FOR LICENSEES OF WORKITECT’S COMPETENCY DICTIONARY.

Contact Workitect for additional information about this program.

Join LinkedIn’s Competency-Based Talent Management group. This group is for HR, OD, training, and talent management professionals who want to network, share experiences, or seek answers about job competency modeling and competency-based HR, talent management, and leadership development.

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The Best of Best Practices for Competency Modeling

Competency modeling has been taking place for more than four decades. In our consulting practice, our consultants have encountered companies using a number of different approaches to building models. Some approaches have been very effective, reliable, and valid and some ineffective, unreliable, and not valid. Unfortunately, these practices have produced negative results and low expectations for competency-based approaches to human resources and talent management. People contemplating the building of models or improving existing models should first educate themselves about what have been found to be effective practices.

Listed below are recommendations for three of the best references for successful competency modeling. The first two are referenced by SHRM in the development of the SHRM Competency Model. The third is a book that describes the original research for competency modeling. Each reflects Workitect’s methodology for building job competency models. It is taught in Workitect’s Building Competency Models certification workshop.

Doing Competencies Well: Best Practices in Competency Modeling. (2011) Campion et al. Personnel Psychology, 64

This article presents a set of best practices for competency modeling based on the experiences and lessons learned from the major perspectives on this topic (including applied, academic, and professional). Competency models are defined, and their key advantages are explained. Then, the many uses of competency models are described. The bulk of the article is a set of 20 best practices divided into 3 areas: analyzing competency information, organizing and presenting competency information, and using competency information. The best practices are described and explained, practice advice is provided, and then the best practices are illustrated with numerous practical examples. Finally, how competency modeling differs from and complements job analysis is explained throughout. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2010.01207.x/full

The Practice of Competency Modeling
(2000) Shippmann et al. Personnel Psychology. 53

The purpose of this article is to define and explain a trend that has caused a great deal of confusion among HR researchers, practitioners, and consumers of HR-related services: competency modeling. The Job Analysis and Competency Modeling Task Force, a work group jointly sponsored by the Professional Practice Committee and the Scientific Affairs Committee of the Society For Industrial and Organizational Psychology, concluded a 2-year investigation into the antecedents of competency modeling and an examination of the current range of practice. Competency modeling is compared and contrasted to job analysis using a conceptual framework (reflected in a 10-dimension Level of Rigor Scale) that practitioners and researchers may use to guide future work efforts, and which could be used as a basis for developing standards for practice. The strengths and weaknesses of both competency modeling and job analysis are identified and, where appropriate, recommendations are made for leveraging strengths in one camp to shore-up weaknesses in the other. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2000.tb00220.x/full

Competence At Work: Models for Superior Performance
(1993) Spencer & Spencer, Pub. John Wiley & Sons

Competence at Work provides a brief history of the competency movement in industrial/organizational psychology and goes on to define “competency”. It provides analysis of 650 jobs, based on 20 years of research using the McClelland/McBer job competence assessment (JCA) methodology, an accurate and unbiased approach to predicting job performance and success. The book includes generic job models for entrepreneurs, technical professionals, salespeople, service workers and corporate managers. It defines JCA and describes in detail how to conduct JCA studies. It provides practical how-to instructions on how to adapt the methodology to the needs of an organization. Readers learn how to conduct the Behavioral Event Interview, a crucial technique involving detailed questions that enable an interviewer to accurately evaluate an individual’s performance potential in job-related situations. Describes how to analyze the accumulated data to develop competency models. Suggests future directions and uses for competency research. http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-047154809X.html

In future blogs, we will examine some of the twenty best practices listed in the first article (Doing Competencies Well) and describe ways to implement that practice, with examples from organizations that have done it well. 

What practices, if any, are missing from the list of 20 best practices?

Which ones are the most important?

Edward Cripe is the President of Workitect, the leader in the development of job competency models and competency-based talent management and HR applications. Contact Ed at ec@workitect.com

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