Tuesday 9 July 2013

Part 6 of 7 of the CompetencyCoreTM Guide to Designing a Competency-based Talent Management Framework

By Ian Wayne, M.Sc and Suzanne Simpson, PhD, C. Psych.

This is the sixth in a seven part series that looks at key decisions in designing and implementing a competency-based talent management (CbTM) framework:
  1. Some Basic Definitions
  2. Defining the Goals and Evaluating the Impact of your Initiative
  3. Competency Structure and Types
  4. Importance of Defining your Competency Architecture
  5. Developing Job Competency Profiles
  6. Project and Change Management
  7. Key Decisions in Selecting a Software System

In the previous blog in this series we walked through the process of identifying the competencies that contribute to success in jobs and the whole organization.  However, to have a successful program, all stakeholders must see the value for competency-based talent management for them.   

The bottom line is that you must craft a communications plan, change and project a management approach that shows the various stakeholders – employees, supervisors, senior leaders, as well as human resources – what’s in it for them.

Communication and Change Management

Throughout every stage of your competency initiative it is important to communicate the goals, benefits and expected outcomes for all stakeholders. This can be achieved through processes specifically designed for this purpose (e.g., employee orientation sessions, newsletters, e-mails, etc.) as well as through the ongoing processes that are part of the overall project plan (e.g., competency profiling focus groups).

If employees, managers and other stakeholders understand the benefits of the tools and feel they have contributed to the development process, there will be a higher chance for project success.
Starting with HR processes that are less ‘threatening’ (e.g., training/learning programs, career development) are most likely to minimize potential resistance and maximize the likelihood of successful implementation. Subsequent steps can gradually move to areas that more directly impact employee performance reviews, compensation, promotion and advancement.


  • How will the competency initiative be communicated? At what point? Through which vehicles? By whom?
  • What are the key messages? What is the focus of the business case?
  • Will you seek out high need areas to address first, demonstration projects or “quick wins”?

Project Management and Governance 

Competency initiatives can fail to have the desired results for a number of reasons. Some of the major obstacles to success include: lack of effective sponsorship; resistance to change; failure to involve key stakeholders; loss of momentum; lack of required training; and inadequate project management.

The biggest challenge we see in organizations is not managing the initiative as a “project” with a beginning, middle and end.  Too frequently, organizations assume that the HR Department can undertake an initiative like this “off the side of their desk”, without due consideration for the extra effort and time that it will take.  This is a recipe for failure.  There must be clearly defined governance and project management structures in place, with appropriate resources assigned and clear time lines, division of responsibilities as well as identified outcomes and deliverables.  Organizations also have to have a clear plan to transition to a normal ongoing process for managing and updating the competency profiles. 


  • What are the barriers to success and how will you address them? What are the areas of strength and how will you leverage them?
  • Will a steering committee be used to guide the competency initiative? If so, who will participate in the committee?
  • Will resources be assigned to manage the initiative?
  • Do you need to use external consulting resources to support stages of the project?
  • Do you intend to use expert panels? If so, what are the criteria for identifying suitable experts? What will their role be in the profiling process?
  • Do you intend to use champions? At what level will they operate and what is their relationship to the steering committee and expert panels?
  • Who will approve the competency profiles?
  • How will business leaders be involved in implementing competency profiles?
  • What are the timelines for various stages of the initiative?

Want to learn more? Competency-based Talent Management, or CbTM, is the best practice for defining job requirements and building effective HR programs to develop skilled, engaged and productive workforces. Download this Best Practice Guide to learn how competencies can increase workforce effectiveness and improve business practices.


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