In recent years, I have spoken with quite a few human resources executives about their experience with competencies and competency models. Many have compiled their own dictionary of competencies and created various forms of competency models. Some have also formulated, with the input of the organization’s executives, a competency framework list of core organizational competencies. The fact that they chose to speak with me about Workitect’s services and resources usually indicates that they are not completely satisfied with what they have done on their own without outside assistance. An apt descriptor of their approach is that it is a “homemade” effort. Note: some HR and non-HR professionals appear to be satisfied with the homemade approach.
Various reasons are given for not being completely satisfied with the competency models and HR applications that were created. The main reason seems to be a lack of acceptance by employees, caused by a lack of understanding of the the intended purpose of the models and lack of any involvement in creating them. Competency models are often thought of as an extension of job descriptions, that create an expectation of additional unclear personal responsibilities.
Dissatisfaction with an internally-developed competency dictionary stems from a lack of confidence in having identified a complete list of the right competencies described in the right format, with behavioral indicators for each competency being clear and accurate. In other words, if we are going to use homemade competencies in our recruitment, assessment, training and development, succession planning, performance management, and compensation processes, are we sure we have it right? In addition, will the wrong core competencies negatively influence long-term business results? Will the overall results be viewed as “half-baked”?
Advantages of Homemade Competency Models and Dictionaries
- Easy to incorporate the language and culture of the organization.
- Save out-of-pocket costs for consultants and competency dictionary license.
- Feeling of ownership – this was created by us and is ours.
- Basic knowledge of competencies will be required and acquired.
- Not using a tested methodology that meets professional standards.
- Limited staff availability – time of HR staff taken from other responsibilities.
- Compensation costs of staff who do the work.
- Longer time to complete the work.
- Poorly described (unclear, confusing, meaningless) competencies, models, HR applications, and organizational core competencies.
- Copyright infringement by using copyrighted competencies and off-the-shelf competency models.
Making Homemade Work
- Purchase a dictionary license and tailor it to your organization (by internal HR staff and/or external experts)
- Build models with shadow consulting by external competency experts. Co-develop several competency models.
- Internal staff trained to build models (e.g. Building Competency Models certification workshop)
- Expediate deployment of applications by using professionally developed tools, such as interview guides, development guides, and 360 feedback instruments.
This approach is illustrated below:
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