WHAT, EXACTLY, ARE COMPETENCIES?
Competencies are abilities, behaviors, knowledge and skills that impact the success of employees and organizations. They can include general skills (like communication skills), role-specific skills, leadership skills and others. The common theme is that a competency can be analyzed and broken down into a set of specific behaviors that tell employees what is expected of them and that management can measure.
The idea is that these competencies should be well-defined across the organization. The definition is not enough by itself, however. It needs to be paired with specific behaviors or tasks that are expected of the employee. These will be different depending on the role of the employee in question Once competencies are defined, you can create a competency model: a set of 7 to 10 core competencies that are aligned with your company’s business goals.
Once you have a model, you can begin defining tasks for each competency for given roles. You can then use them to assess potential employees for different positions. You can also easily and consistently communicate your expectations, as well as measure competencies as part of your performance reviews. Finally, you can grow your training opportunities for employees to improve upon the competencies.
WHY INCORPORATE COMPETENCIES?
Competency modeling is now a mainstay in the most successful businesses. In one study by Development Dimensions International (DDI), 89 percent of best-in-class organizations had core competencies defined for all their roles, compared to a mere 48 percent for all other companies.
A separate report, the Top Companies for Leaders report done in conjunction with Fortune and Aon Hewitt, found that a full 100 percent of companies making the global top companies list use a well-defined competency model.
There’s ample evidence that using competencies does help businesses. For example, companies that manage their people well with regard to skills, knowledge, commitment and abilities are 30 percent to 40 percent more productive than average. The issue isn’t whether the model works. The issue is how to get started using the model.
Here are six steps for getting started with competencies:
1. Start small.
Don’t re-invent the wheel. Work to identify just a handful of competencies — no more than five or six — for your organization. Once you’ve incorporated a select few and shown success, then you can build on these.
2. Decide on consistent terminology to be used.
This includes the names and definitions of the competencies themselves. To make them memorable, you can use the first letter of the names of each competency to spell out a word, like GROW or STEAM.
3. Think in terms of specific, concrete tasks.
Think about the tasks or behaviors that demonstrate the competencies you have chosen. Also think about tasks and behaviors that fail to demonstrate them so you can incorporate into your performance review process.
4. Work your new terminology into job descriptions, and use it when advertising positions.
When it comes to describing job positions or roles, and when looking for people to fill those roles, use the language you adopted when talking about your competencies.
5. Research how competencies can be measured in your assessments.
Both assessment questionnaires and 360 surveys can be tuned to uncover evidence of competencies in your employees.
6. Craft training around those competencies.
Find content (or a training partner like ej4) that speaks to your competencies, and create courses that can help both your leaders and your front-line employees grow in those areas.
Use of competency learning tracks in the learning management system, like Thinkzoom by ej4, is just one way to incorporate competencies into their learning. Ready to get started? Visit us online at ej4.com.