7 Best Practices in Developing a Competency Model

Michael Lovett, HRD Strategies, has identified seven best practices that are necessary when developing a competency model for your organization. These “must-haves” will help ensure that the outcome will meet the needs of the organization. These seven components include: structure, balance, participation, organizational context, job content, linkage and validation.

  1.  STRUCTURE: Identifying a set of organizational competencies requires a structured methodology. Consistent and supportive infrastructure is key for institutionalizing competencies across the organization.  Competencies need to be embedded into the organization through the talent systems the organization uses for employee selection, measuring performance, succession planning and employee development.
  2.  BALANCE: It is critical to ensure competencies are balanced and relevant across all organizational levels. Another aspect of creating a balanced competency model is to ensure there is not too much focus on one or two dimensions of competencies – therefore overlooking others.
  3.  PARTICIPATION: Competencies must also include a representative participation of employees. “Many times competencies are primarily focused on executive and management levels and don’t apply to the rest of the organization,” shares Michael Lovett; HRD Strategies. Creating alignment will be key to success. Organizational competency lists need to reach all levels in the organization.
  4.  ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT: Competencies can be linked to both the hard and soft aspects of business. Mission and vision form the basis of determining an organization’s strategic direction and its values. It is critical that the organizational competencies fit the culture of the organization.
  5.  JOB CONTENT FIT: To create a balanced cross-section of competencies that fit the organizational context, the list may include 20 or more. Since employees have different responsibilities and focus based on their role and function, each organizational competency would not apply equally. However, it is important that there is a direct link to each employee’s job.
  6.  LINKAGE: One of the best ways to ensure the organizational list of competencies applies at the organizational and individual level is to identify of which competencies are essential to what position.  Linkage to performance management, selection, development and other human resource processes becomes the key to success. How the jobs are analyzed and which competencies are identified as being essential to positions can mean the difference between success and failure. Human resources can add value for line and staff by providing the ability to create integrated structured interviews, performance planning, discussion forms and development programs.
  7.  VALIDATION: A simple structured process can be used to analyze the essential skills for specific positions to identify the actions necessary to demonstrate each competency. Using a reliable tool that would infer validity is essential to the implementation process. HRD Strategies has developed a methodology that includes rating the level of importance and frequency of competencies for each employee’s job function.

By leveraging the seven best practices to developing an organization’s competency model, your organization will be set up for success. Michael Lovett, HRD Strategies, works in partnership with talent management leaders to develop organizational competency models and implementation plans.

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