Thursday 13 October 2011

How Can You Get Started With Competencies?

To begin implementing competency-based management in your organization, the competencies needed by the employees should be defined. This process will ensure that the organization is well positioned to achieve its vision and strategic goals and initiatives, and to support its values. Once defined, the competencies will serve as the foundation for an integrated set of HR processes and tools that can be used in Career Management, Learning and Development, Succession Planning, Recruitment and Performance Management.

The starting point for any competency application is a valid and well constructed competency profile that can be easily used to support all of its intended purposes. Competency-based Job Profiles, often refered to as Competency Models, Matrices or Job Descriptions identify the specific competencies needed in a job. Establishing a clear competency structure is one of the first and fundamental steps in profile development.

A competency structure describes the common rules for defining competencies for success within the organization. It includes the guiding principles that describe how the profiles will be designed for the entire organization - e.g., the format for displaying the competency profile, content for the profile (e.g. behavioural competencies and technical / professional competencies), core vs unique competencies, etc.

There are four basic criteria that the competency structure must meet::

1. The content of the profiles must demonstrate the competencies that employees must have, both now and in the future, to achieve the organization’s vision and support its values;
2. The profiles must support career management, learning and development, succession planning and, as the program evolves, employee performance management as well as recruitment and staffing;
3. The profiles must incorporate the more general behavioural competencies needed for success in roles or occupational groups (e.g. teamwork), as well as the specific technical / professional requirements needed; and finally,
4. All profiles must be easy to use by all stakeholders.

Competency-based job profiles need to be simple to understand and use to ensure broad acceptance by all stakeholders (e.g. managers, employees, HR professionals, employee unions/bargaining groups, etc.), while still supporting all of the intended end uses. Best practice research suggests that a profile should have no more than 10 to 12 general behavioural competencies, otherwise, the tools and processes on which they are based become unwieldy, time consuming and difficult for employees and managers to use.

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

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