Conceptualizing the Project is the first step in Workitect’s competency modeling process, and is taught in our Building Competency Models certification workshop.

What This Step Involves

The key components of conceptualizing the approach are:

  •   Thinking through the need
  •   Clarifying the need through discussions with the sponsor and other key stakeholders
  •   Developing an approach
  •   Gaining the sponsor’s support for the approach

A. Thinking through the Need.

In thinking through the need, it is helpful to consider the following questions:

  •   What is the business need for the competency model(s)?
  •   What HR applications will be built using the competency model(s) to address the business need?
  •   What is the organizational context?
  •   What business or organizational changes have occurred?
  •   What other competency models exist or are planned?
  •   Has the organization developed a mission or values statement?
  •   What is the organization’s strategic plan or direction?
  •   What aspects of the organization’s culture should be taken into account when considering this work?
  •   What HR applications and programs are already in place for selection, professional development, assessment, and performance management?
  •   Who will sponsor this work? What are the sponsor’s needs and concerns?
  •   What other key stakeholders will be affected by the competency model and its applications? What are their needs and concerns?

B. Clarifying the Need.

You probably will not have answers to all of the above questions and it is likely that the sponsor and other key stakeholders will have perspectives and concerns that you have not thought of. By talking with your sponsor and with some other key stakeholders, you can clarify what is needed. In addition, sounding out key stakeholders and demonstrating interest in their needs, you will begin to build support for the project.

C. Developing an Approach

There are three main approaches to competency model building. When deciding how to approach a competency model-building project, it is useful to consider these three distinctive approaches:

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

A project usually focuses on one of these approaches, although it is possible to use a combination of these approaches within one organization. The approaches will be described in detail in the next three issues of this series.

D. Gaining the Sponsor’s Support for the Approach

Before you can begin a competency-modeling project, you need to have your sponsor’s support, first for the general conceptual approach and later for a project plan that specifies the time, money and other resources that will be required. Before developing a detailed plan, it is useful to ensure that the sponsor supports your general conceptual approach. Therefore, you need to share your approach with the sponsor and check to see if you have your sponsor’s support. You can do this in an in-person or telephone meeting.


Question for readers: What challenges have you had in following these steps? Are there steps that should be added?



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