Wednesday 15 August 2012

Who owns the competency process?

A key question that is rarely asked or even addressed in planning for a competency-based talent management (CbTM) project is "Who owns this project?" Every process must have an "owner." A process owner is defined as someone who has responsibility for the overall success of the process and its continuous improvement. Depending on the size and impact of the process, a process owner may choose to manage this on their own, or in more complex situations, may decide to set up a process improvement team. It's been my experience that an organizational wide CbTM initiative can be complex enough to justify a team development approach.

A common stumbling block for many organizations attempting to implement CbTM is a lack of clear ownership. Is HR leading the effort? Is this a business line function driven by their management group? Many individuals from different groups will be involved. But who is accountable when there is an unproductive outcome? The individual or department with this responsibility must also have the authority to own the process.

The professional knowledge and skills required to own a competency process are not usually found in line operations. Line managers and frontline workers provide subject matter expertise and are essential to the creation and evaluation of competency profile assessment instruments. Business Unit Managers can initiate the Competency Profiling Initiative to address their various HR needs i.e.: establish learning plans, staffing, career development, performance management, etc. However, the HR function needs to be involved to ensure there is an alignment to an existing Competency-based Talent Management Framework and to current HR policies.

A competency-based talent management process potentially requires skills in consulting, facilitation, job analysis, assessment, testing, resource administration, IT systems development, etc. Expertise in these areas is usually found across many functions within the organization. Because so many groups within an organization are affected in a competency initiative, the process owner is best centrally located rather than line function based. Professionals within HR often are logical candidates for competency process ownership. Competency-Based Management Training is available to help executives and HR professionals develop the skills needed to design, develop and implement competency-based programs for their organization, and this can often make the different between success implementation or not.

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