Friday 6 July 2012

Competencies Out-of-the-Box, Or Not?

I was recently participating in a LinkedIn discussion regarding my experience developing competencies and competency profiles within an organization. As the discussion progressed, there seemed to emerge two opposing views: develop from scratch, or use a pre-defined solution. In my opinion, it’s doesn’t need to be one or the other.

It has been my experience that most organizations cannot afford to build a comprehensive competency library and framework that would properly address their needs. What you typically end up with is a scaled down solution that only addresses certain areas within the whole HR lifecycle, which diminishes the return on investment for competency-based management. What we recommend and implement time and again with our clients, is to start with a pre-defined and proven competency library (or dictionary), which gets you about 80% of the way there, and then focus your internal resources on refining those competencies to meet the specific needs of your organization.

If you are using a competency library housed within a talent management software suite, the system has to give you the flexibility to allow you to adjust the competencies to meet your organization’s unique culture and strategic goals. We have seen many organizations that have acquired copyrighted competency libraries that could not be adjusted to meet their needs. The result was strong resistance from management and employees. This is why we give organizations the right to modify our library of competencies to reflect their requirements, and provide tools and processes within the software for managing and communicating the competency requirements throughout the organization. This is particularly important when the organization is global in nature and wishes to ensure that executives, managers and employees around the world are being managed to the same best practice standards no matter where they are.

Some argue that it is cheaper or more cost-effective to develop the organization’s competencies from scratch, but our experience shows otherwise. In fact, it can take years to develop a comprehensive competency library covering all the general and technical / professional competencies that may be needed in your organization. While you are doing this, you are not gaining the benefits of competency-based management within your organization – for example, better recruitment and selection, improved performance, better leadership development, etc. Starting with a list of well-defined and proven competencies, and then modifying them to reflect your organization’s unique needs, gets you to the results you need faster while saving you development time and money.

Read the whole discussion at

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