Today my colleagues Leah Goldstein Moses, Lisa Negstad and I will be meeting over coffee to discuss an upcoming project with a new client. A local nonprofit has asked us to create a cohesive system of work planning, evaluation and reporting, annual performance reviews, and professional development tools that are aligned with their Strategic Framework. While we’ll all work together to ensure a seamless system, we each have our primary responsibilities. Leah’s firm will be responsible for evaluation and reporting, Lisa will address the performance evaluation system and I will help them with their professional development system and job descriptions.
In our initial meeting I asked the client if they had a competency model in place. A competency model describes what people need to be able to do in order to execute their jobs effectively. It details the observable skills, behaviors, and attitudes that are associated with high performance. And while Lisa correctly noted that performance evaluation really centers on the relationship between the supervisor and the employee, a competency model is a great tool on which the performance management system can be built. In fact competency models are also great for hiring and professional development. Thankfully the client agreed that a competency model would be useful.
Above is a portion of a competency model my team put together for a recent client (the names have been changed to protect the innocent).
If you think such a model would be useful for your organization, there are a few initial questions you want to ask yourself:
- Why are we doing it?
- What’s the business purpose?
2. What will it be used for?
- What human capital processes will it manage? Hiring, performance management, other?
3. What will it include?
- What elements are needed to make it work?
4. How will it be created?
- What is the process?
- Who should be interviewed?
- How will you communicate? Who will be told and what will they be told?
In the case of the model above we conducted a series of interviews with leadership and other team members. We also reviewed pertinent documentation, such as job descriptions, and conducted job analyses of the positions. Sometimes observation is warranted. We were fortunate that we could incorporate components of the American Society for Training and Development’s competency model for training and development practitioners. (I did not have that luxury when creating another competency model for the same client.) We then determined the desired skill categories, the levels of employee performance and desired employee behaviors.
The process for developing a competency model is time consuming, but the final product can help to ensure consistency in your hiring, performance evaluation and professional development processes.