Why a customized competency model versus an off the shelf?

Who are the stakeholders to enlist in the effort?

What is the payoff for doing so?

When is the best time to take the action?

I want to share a story with you that answers those four questions.

I have had the pleasure of collaborating on a number of occasions with a successful global pharmaceutical company that has invested the time, energy and expense to create customized competency models and corresponding development pathways for three critical positions in their organization: District Sales Manager; Global General Manager; and Strategic Account Manager, encompassing Key Account Managers, National & Regional Account Managers, and National Account Directors. They also created a competency model for the Marketing Department, which did not include a development pathway.

The process of discovery included an online survey, interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders, which resulted in identification of the key competencies required to succeed in the position, and requisite knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully execute each of the competencies. Once that work was accomplished it established the foundation for the development pathway. Offering a development pathway for your employees and managers is an indication of a learning organization where they can see a path for advancement. In today’s marketplace we know this is a critical for recruiting and retaining talent. It also demonstrates the organizations commitment to succession which further influences retention of high performers and provides the bench strength so you can promote internally and reduce the ramp up time associated with having to post and hire from outside if a key player leaves the company.

Selecting the right stakeholders, and engaging them in the process from the beginning, is the key to the project’s success. The stakeholders, who have the knowledge of the knowledge, skills and abilities required to be successful in the position, provide their input as Advisory members to the project. They may also play a role in helping design, and potentially deliver, the development pathway.

The stakeholders can be recruited from any of the following disciplines/departments/divisions:

·      Human Resources

·      Talent Management

·      Training and Development

·      Learning Development

·      Cross section of individuals from the identified position

·      Key managers overseeing the positions

The outcomes of creating a customized competency model includes updated job descriptions with the roles and responsibilities of the position accurately reflecting the company’s current and future business strategy. The updated competency model provides another opportunity to clearly communicate the expectations for the position, especially when onboarding new employees. Once the competency model is created you can customize a development pathway to ensure high potentials, newly promoted or newly hired, along with experienced employees, have the opportunity to receive the necessary training and development to establish those competencies.

The payoff is that employees understand — from day one — what is expected of them and the areas where they may need improvement, so they can be more productive, more quickly. Additional payoffs include closing performance gaps, resulting in high performing employees and managers and leading to increased revenue and decreased costs over time for the business or organization.

The best time to pursue competency model development will vary, depending on what is impacting your organization. Being proactive versus reactive ensures you are ahead of the curve and have the time to properly complete this project – before it becomes critical to do so. Consider some of the following indicators:

·      Change in business strategy

·      Merger or acquisition impacting critical positions

·      High turnover in critical positions

·      Succession planning efforts

What is important is creating a successful collaboration across disciplines to define the work and not leaving it up to Human Resources alone. The added benefit from the diversity of thought and perspective is critical in the final execution and acceptance of the customized Competency Model and development pathway.

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