Thursday 29 September 2011

Competency-based Job Profiles: What Are They Good For? (Continued)

The Performance Management process can be broadly defined to include all those functions that support the communication of performance expectations to employees, setting individual performance plans consistent with these expectations, ongoing feedback and management of performance to support employees in meeting their performance goals and expectations, and end of cycle reviews to evaluate how well employees have performed over the year and to plan for the next performance cycle.

While the performance management process must support the business goals of the organization (i.e. translation of what the organization must accomplish into what each employee must accomplish), organizations typically use competencies to define how the organization expects employees to behave in the performance of their job duties (e.g. through teamwork; with integrity; oriented toward achieving results; with a focus on the client; etc.). Thus, organizations often include competencies in the planning, review and evaluation cycle to complement and enhance the feedback provided to employees on their personal performance.

Competency profiles must support reliable, valid, fair and unbiased recruitment and selection decisions. They provide the standards for assessing whether candidates have the potential or capabilities to perform successfully in the target role or career stream. As such, therefore, the competency profiles must reflect the true (bona fide) requirements for entry into job roles / positions in the organization and they must not unfairly discriminate against groups protected under Canadian Human Rights and Employment Equity legislation. They must be sufficiently comprehensive to support the development or selection of reliable, valid, fair and unbiased screening and selection tools and processes.

This post is based on content from 'Framework for Competency-based Management' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Competency-based Job Profiles: What Are They Good For? (Continued)

Succession planning and leadership development includes all of those HR processes needed to ensure that there is a pool of qualified candidates ready and able to assume key roles with the organization as they become vacant. Typical elements include: the forecasting of movement and position vacancies within the organization; the definition of the competency requirements for the various key roles and levels; the regular assessment of current employee competencies against the requirements and predicted vacancies; and, the planned movement (e.g. career assignments) and development of employees (e.g. formal development programs; mentoring; self-directed learning; etc.) to prepare them for future roles and levels within the organization. Succession planning differs from career management in the extent to which the activities are employee versus organizationally driven.

While the organization is responsible for providing the structures, tools and processes to support effective career management it is typically an employee-drive process – in other words, it is up to the employee with the assistance of his/her supervisor to take advantage of the structures, tools and processes the organization has in place to advance in his/her career. While all employees must take responsibility for planning and managing their personal careers, succession planning tends to be a more proactive organizationally driven program of activities on the assumption that having vacancies in key roles would leave the organization vulnerable.

This post is based on content from 'Framework for Competency-based Management' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd

Friday 23 September 2011

Are Your Competencies Defensible?: More Key Questions to Consider

When considering whether your competencies are defensible, there are key questions you can ask:

Were the job / work content experts representative of the stakeholders who understand the work?In line with the need to have job / work content experts participating in the definition of the competency requirements, there is a need to ensure appropriate representation, especially when dealing with jobs, functions or work commonly performed across of the organization. This could be the case when there are many people performing one job, when a number of jobs contain common elements (e.g. management or supervisory responsibilities), or when identifying competencies that tend to be common or core to organizational areas or functions. Factors to consider in choosing expert participants include:

  • who understands or typifies the job and desired level of performance;
  • representation of different stakeholder interests; and,representation of the diversity of the role (geographically, functionally, culturally, size of operation, region vs. HQ)
Is the level of competence used as the standard in making the employment decision reflective of the level actually needed?

Organizations must consider very carefully the level of performance that the competency profile represents. Many providers of competency profiling services argue that because organizations are driven to excellence, the standard for the development of competency profiles should be the superior performer. Competencies that document superior performance may be appropriate as standards or targets for employees who are seeking to improve (e.g. training and development). However, competencies defined at this level may not be appropriate if used to support recruitment and staffing decisions, especially if it is recognized that employees need time, training and / or development after appointment to become ‘superior’ performers.

Organizations, therefore, need to consider carefully the level of competence that will be described in the competency profile relative to how the profile will be used within the organization (e.g. recruitment and selection; development once in the job; etc.). In some cases, organizations choose to set different standards depending on the competency application (e.g., one standard for entry into a job / role, another standard for fully effective performance once the employee has been oriented or trained for the job, and possibly a third standard that represents full mastery or excellence in the job / role).

This post is based on content from 'Are Your Competencies Defensible?' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Competency-Based Job Profiles: What Are They Good For?

Competency-based job profiles can be used to support career management, learning and development, succession planning, recruitment, and as the program evolves employee performance management as well as staffing. As such, therefore, the profiles must be constructed to support all of these end uses for the targeted employee groups.

By definition, career management calls for employees and / or the leadership of the organization to be able to compare employee competencies against those competency requirements for both current as well as other roles or jobs in the organization. Thus, the competency structure must allow the organization and employees to draw comparisons across jobs, roles or levels in the organization. For example, employees aspiring to advance within career streams must be able to compare the competencies and proficiency requirements across the more junior to senior levels of this stream. For those employees wishing to make a career transition, the competency structure must also allow employees to compare their current competencies with competency requirements outside the typical or traditional occupational career paths. The competency structure must allow all of this to occur easily and effectively.

Closely linked to the career development process, learning tools and programs must support not only the assessment of individual learning needs to perform in one’s current role, but also to advance in one’s career. The setting and execution of individual learning plans to address these needs, and the assessment of the extent to which learning goals were met, can support learning for current jobs/roles as well as career development for other roles to which the employee aspires. Also, the competency structure must support goals for continuous organizational improvement and ongoing knowledge management and enhancement consistent with the organization’s vision.

This post is based on content from 'Framework for Competency-based Management' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Are Your Competencies Defensible?: Key Questions to Consider

When considering whether your competencies are defensible, there are key questions you can ask:

Can you link the competencies to the work products, outcomes or tasks that employees must successfully perform in the organization or job?
Competencies by definition reflect the knowledge, skills, abilities or other attributes employees require for effective or successful performance. Employers must be prepared to justify that the competencies employees, or potential employees, are asked to possess are actually required for job effectiveness.

Are the competencies reflective of the key and important attributes required for overall success in the job?
Employers must be prepared to demonstrate that the competencies used in making employment decisions represent the key and important behaviours (i.e., non-trivial) that employees must display for success. Once the competency profiles have been developed in draft, analysts will often ask job / work content experts to rate the level of importance of the competencies (and associated behavioural indicators) and to identify any that may be missing.

Did you use job / work content experts?
Employers must be prepared to demonstrate that the competency requirements were identified based on the expert knowledge of those who understand the job or area being profiled, including the services, products or outcomes that lead to excellence. Typically, organizations seek information from a variety of sources to ensure that there is a consistent and well-rounded perspective on the competencies needed for success. Common sources of information about the types of behaviours that lead to success include:

• Incumbents who understand or exemplify the type and level of performance required;
• those who supervise the work;
• those reporting to the job being profiled;
• clients or recipients of the services being provided; and,
• individuals who understand any changes that may be occurring within the job or work area.

This post is based on content from 'Are Your Competencies Defensible?' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Are Your Competencies Defensible?

The use of competencies can sometimes be subject to judicial scrutiny when an employment decision is challenged. Organizations must ensure that their competency profiles and the methods of their development meet accepted standards. Key concerns include: the link between competencies and the skills, knowledge and abilities required for job success; how reflective competencies are of required key attributes; the use of expert knowledge in developing competencies; accounting for possible disadvantages to a particular group; and, the actual level of competence required.

What's the Issue? Most progressive organizations are implementing integrated competency-based human resource management processes, tools and applications to support the achievement of their strategic and business goals. However, in their rush to reap the potential benefits, they may not have invested the time and effort up front to ensure that their competencies and competency framework are defensible (e.g., litigation, complaints under EEOC Guidelines, human rights complaints, etc.).

Why should you worry whether your competencies are defensible?Well, organizations use competencies to identify the gaps between their human resource needs and their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Based on these comparisons, important decisions are made about how to select, promote, manage and develop human resources to support the organization’s success - decisions that impact employees’ careers and livelihoods. Therefore, the competencies and how they are used could be subject to review and close scrutiny if there is a challenge to an employment decision that was made. Courts, review boards or tribunals could ask employers to justify their employment decisions based on whether the competencies reflect the ‘bona fide’ skills, knowledge, abilities or other requirements for effective performance in the job. It is important, therefore, for organizations take care to ensure that their competency profiles / models, and the methods by which they were developed, meet generally accepted standards.

Requirements for Defensible Job Analysis:

  • Include most critical or important elements
  • Trained job analysts
  • Structure system
  • Process and results recorded
  • Use of subject matter experts
  • Sufficient sample size
  • Verifiable and replicable

This post is based on content from 'Are Your Competencies Defensible?' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

Friday 9 September 2011

Tips for Successful Competency-based Selection Interviewing

It is important to weigh each behavioural example provided by an interviewee in terms of its overall contribution to the rating for each competency. Since this is not simply a process of averaging all of the +'s and -'s to arrive at an overall rating, it is important to take the following factors into account:
  • Significance: The importance of the examples in relation to the job being filled should be carefully considered. Two complete behavioural examples may be provided. One may be a good example in a very unimportant situation, and the other may be an example of poor performance in the same competency area in a very critical situation. It is necessary, therefore, to give the more important example more weight in the candidate's overall rating for that particular competency area.
  • Recency: The more recent the behaviour, the better it predicts future behaviour. If the candidate provides a number of negative examples of a competency earlier in their career, but also provides several more recent positive examples, then the recent examples should be given more weight in the overall rating of the competency, other things being equal.
  • Trends: Consistent with the concept of recency, examples which show a trend either positively or negatively should be taken into account. It is likely that a trend would continue if the candidate were selected for the target position.
  • Job-Relatedness: The job-relatedness of the examples provided by the candidate should also be factored into the overall rating of a competency. For example, a candidate may have provided good examples of team building skills in volunteer situations involving children, but a number of negative examples with adults on the job. Although volunteer experience is perfectly acceptable, the latter examples must be given more weight if the candidate is expected to demonstrate this skill with adults on the job.
  • Assign a Rating to Each Competency: The next step is to assign a rating to each competency based on the candidate’s demonstration of the relevant behavioural indicators.
This post is based on content from 'Effective Interviewing' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Quick Tips for Evaluating Candidate Interviews

All of the energy and effort devoted to capturing good job-related information during a selection interview is wasted if this information is not evaluated consistently and appropriately for all candidates. A key element of evaluation is the classification of the behavioural examples provided by candidates. Behavioural questions are designed to illicit information relevant to a specific competency. However, human behaviour can be complex. Accordingly, the following situations may arise:
  • a behavioural-based question will be asked focusing on one competency area, but the candidate will provide a behavioural example that demonstrates another
  • examples will be provided that relate to more than one competency area
  • examples that relate to the required competencies will be provided during the introductory phases of the interview, or during the close of the interview
The whole interview should, therefore, be reviewed carefully, for evidence of the competencies being assessed. One suggested method for doing this is to circle each behavioural example, and if it demonstrates a competency other than the one intended by the question, note the competency demonstrated along side of the example, and cross reference this example in the section of the Interview Guide devoted to that competency. In addition to classifying all of the examples, the interviewer should note whether the behaviour demonstrated is a positive or negative example relative to the type of performance expected on the job by placing a + (plus sign) or a - (minus sign) beside each example.

Once all relevant information from the interview has been reviewed and correctly classified, the interviewer is in a position to fully understand and evaluate a candidate’s past behaviour for each competency.

This post is based on content from 'Effective Interviewing' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

Friday 2 September 2011

A Word to the Critics

I constantly hear that competencies don’t work and that they are just another passing theme on the stage of HR management. If you are looking for a silver bullet that will solve your HR issues in a day or two, then you would be correct. Competencies won’t work.

However, for the management team that is concerned about having the best workforce available, is committed to integrating their human resource initiatives with their corporate vision and business goals, and is looking to implement and sustain strategic and effective tools and processes from hire to retire, then competencies are the answer. Extensive research and proven examples in both the private and public sector demonstrate as much.

If you have looked at competencies in the past, and rejected them, I urge you to take a new look with experts that can properly assess your needs and the utility of competencies for your organization. If you have not yet considered competencies as a way to manage and develop your workforce, perhaps now is the time to do so.

This post is based on content from 'Competencies from a -HR Point of View' by Bill Cowperthwaite.