Competencies: Can You Afford Not to Define Them?

The lure of an expertly crafted resume and a charismatic candidate can be an appealing hook.  Unfortunately, that draw may lead to a poor choice.  While the candidate may appear to have the skills and knowledge for the position, they may lack the unique competencies required to be a strong contributor to the long-term, overall performance of your organization.

For decades the job description has been the norm for detailing the tasks, duties and responsibilities of a position.  In many organizations, little attention has typically been given in determining the foundational competencies required for an employee to excel in his or her current job position, much less as a contender for succession.  In-depth knowledge of the essential competencies for positions provides the extra edge needed to identify superior candidates from a pool of well qualified ones. 

Often the word “competency” is inappropriately used to refer to personality traits or skills.  A competency is a combination of related knowledge, skills and characteristics required to effectively perform a role and impacts an employee’s performance throughout the work day.  Competencies are measurable and often can be improved with training and development.  Depending on the position, examples of competencies could include action-orientation, financial acumen and visionary thinking.  Skills such as analyzing, selling and writing may be situational or specific to a portion of an employee’s work.  Characteristics such as proactive, decisive and independent are personal descriptions.

Fully integrating a competency model within an organization can lead to differentiation in the marketplace and business success.  Have you ever met employees from an organization and recognized there was something exceptional about them? In the case of a leading Indianapolis financial institution, their intellectual horsepower, business acumen and ethics are competencies that drive their brand. These competencies permeate throughout every level of their organization. 

By defining competencies, organizations like the financial institution mentioned earlier can align and strengthen every aspect of their employee life cycle and talent management strategy.  Consider the benefits in these areas:

  • Recruitment – By basing recruiting efforts on competencies, an in-depth systematic hiring process can be executed.  Costly hiring errors are reduced and superior candidates can be selected.
  • Training & Development – Return on investment is optimized by creating training initiatives based on competencies, rather than on traditional broad-based topics that are difficult to measure.
  • Performance Management – Competencies create a foundation for professional development plans and a clear picture of what will be measured.  Aspiring employees can see what is required for their career advancement.
  • Succession Planning – By assessing high potential leaders based on competencies, organizations can determine their bench strength and take action to address voids. 

Many organizations may not feel they have the time or funds to invest in developing a company-wide competency model. However, after analyzing the potential cost of just one bad hire at the senior management level, investing in the development of competencies is a wise investment that will pay dividends well into the future.

Hear the genesis of one company’s journey using competencies! h.h. gregg, one of the leading and fastest growing retailers in the US, shared their experience during a complementary webinar: The DNA of High Performance – Using Competencies to Drive Success hosted by Career Partners International. In addition to h.h. gregg’s story, a distinguished panel of experts discussed the importance of competencies, how they are developed, and most importantly, how they are used to enhance performance to achieve superior results! Click here to hear the recorded webinar.

We’d love to hear your competency stories; please share your comments below! 

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Comments

  1. Travis Jones's avatar
    Travis Jones
    | Permalink
    Training initiatives based on compentancies is a much better investment for a company and it's employees. I heard a statement recently that resonated with me. They said most training offered by companies is like sheep dipping. It may protect for a short while but only has limited value. A training initiative based on a person's need will raise the value of that employee over a longer period of time.
  2. Steve Grow's avatar
    Steve Grow
    | Permalink
    Change in any organization is always difficult. One way to embrace change is by keeping Leadership competencies clear an identifying change as one of those competencies. Any business that expects and plans for change creates a culture with the understanding,tools and techniques to make change seamless and effortless.

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