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.

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