Best Practices for Developing Competency-based Job Profiles

October 24, 2016 Diana Esparza

Competency profiles are the foundation of any competency-based initiative. Articulating competencies and proficiency levels at the job level brings greater focus and continuity to the entire talent-management lifecycle.

Based on more than two decades of experience guiding hundreds of competency initiatives—large and small—to successful completion, HRSG offers these six recommendations for organizations that are planning to develop multi-level competency profiles and transition to a competency-based HR practice.

1. START WITH A PILOT PROJECT

Competencies bring the greatest value when they’re applied to the whole workforce, but you don’t need to do it all at once. Starting with a small pilot project is a great way to explore multi-level competencies and adapt the competency content and profile-building process to the unique needs of your organization.

For example: Many HRSG clients begin by selecting competencies for a small group of related job profiles before rolling them out for the whole organization.

2. IDENTIFY THE GOAL 

HR professionals use competencies for many reasons. Some want to strengthen or change organizational culture, others want to reduce turnover or ensure consistent performance across different locations, and so on. Make sure you have a clear goal in mind before starting a competency-based initiative, and take baseline measurements so you can gauge the effectiveness of the initiative post-launch.

For example: A client who wants to improve the quality of new hires may choose to focus on developing a profile for a particularly high-turnover role within the organization. The client will measure key organizational metrics such as the retention rate and performance evaluations before the initiative gets under way, and after the profile has been used to select new hires.

3. LEVERAGE AUTOMATION TOOLS

Using tools such as spreadsheets, email, and Word documents to select and apply multi-level competencies to job profiles can add to the challenge. Using next-generation software tools such as HRSG’s CompetencyCore can streamline the process by helping you manage competency content, synthesize organizational input, and ensure a defensible, fully documented process.

For example: HRSG’s CompetencyCore Profile Builder leads you through an automated, best-practice survey process for short-listing, reviewing, selecting, and publishing competencies at the right proficiency level for each job profile in your organization.

4. ENGAGE STAKEHOLDERS

Depending on the scope of your project and your organizational process, developing competency-based job profiles can require input from HR staff, managers, employees, executives, boards of directors, and other external audiences. Invest some time and resources in developing your communication approach, including presentation materials that help stakeholders understand the competency approach, the project goals and objectives, and their role in the process. This will both increase support for the project and enhance outcomes.

For example: Clients that consider the perspectives of each stakeholder and describe ‘what is in it for them’ typically see higher success rates for their competency initiatives. Employees want to know how competencies will support them in planning and managing their careers. Managers are focused on hiring and managing employees more effectively. Executives want to understand how competencies support the strategic vision and goals for the organization. The key is to understand the target audience and gear the messages to their priorities.

5. DOCUMENT THE PROCESS

It’s essential to document the development process for your job profiles in order to provide your organization with a measure of legal defensibility. Record and file information including the names and positions of people who participated, their individual feedback, and the process by which that feedback was synthesized to make decisions about the competencies and proficiency levels attributed to each job profile. Doing so will demonstrate that profiles were developed in a fair and inclusive process.

For example: HRSG’s CompetencyCore Profile Builder documents every step of the competency selection process and provides you with a clear and defensible paper trail. All stakeholder input is consolidated into a single report that includes each person’s selections and any comments or feedback they provided.

6. SHARE THE SUCCESS

Competencies can have a big impact on the organization in terms of its culture and its performance. But unless you communicate those impacts—in presentations, newsletters, and other promotional channels—they can go unrecognized. Whether it’s positive employee feedback or an improvement in KPIs, take the time to share the good news. It will increase awareness and organizational buy-in, and provide forward momentum for additional projects.

For example: Measurement of competency applications is similar to the approaches used with other HR applications. They range from feedback surveys to measures of organizational performance and business results. It can take specialized expertise to set up the appropriate metrics and evaluate project success.

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About the Author

Diana Esparza

Diana is a creative doer with a soft spot for scaling, driving efficiencies, building companies and communities, connecting and empowering people. Diana is a BI, Data Analytics, and Marketing Strategist passionate about Digital Transformation, Disruptive Technologies, and Digital Branding.

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