A reader from Australia has come across my blog about competencies and is asking for more advice on how to build a competency model. Here are some things to consider.
If your organization does not have any competencies, you may want to start with core competencies and introduce them first. After that, you might build out the leadership competencies, and once you have experience with that, the last challenge is to advance to job specific competencies. If you are brave, go ahead roll out everything all at once. It depends how change ready your organization is.
When you build a competency model, I recommend that you look at it from a holistic talent management perspective. The competency model impacts selection, development, succession, performance management and rewards, so make sure that you have all the right stakeholders involved. If you build your competency model only for training or only for performance management, you are painting yourself into a corner.
When you start building your competency model, you have two choices: Start from scratch or use existing models to tailor to your needs. Many professional associations provide good models to start with, and there are companies that sell competency models. If your company is considering implementing integrated talent management software, many solutions come with a competency package, or the vendors partner with competency providers. There are many advantages to having your competency model integrated into your talent management software.
Whether you create your own model or modify an existing model, you will need organizational input and feedback. There are many ways to gather it:
- Analyze strategic plans and talent reviews to identify critical skills needed for company success.
- Analyze job descriptions and job postings to identify which competencies are required for specific jobs and which ones seem to be consistent across all job families. A more detailed job analysis might also entail shadowing employees and drawing out competencies from their job tasks.
- Interview managers, hiring managers and top performers. Ask what specifically makes an ideal performer and what behaviors make them successful in your organization.
- Use surveys to ask various job roles to prioritize which competencies they think are the most critical for their success and how proficient they feel they are in each of them today.
- Use off-the-shelf 360 assessments to gain insight into which competencies are considered the most important in the organization.
- Organize focus groups across all geographical regions and ask employees to react to a draft model: What behaviors resonate and what is missing?
Once you have the feedback, you will have to put a stake in the ground and propose the final model. It is critical to get senior leadership buy-in. Remember that whatever you propose will need to be revised every 2-3 years, as your organization evolves.
Implementing a new competency model is no small feat. When you start designing it, start thinking about change management: How will you sell this new approach to your organization?
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