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Competencies Client Stories

Webinar Recap: How to Save Time When Building a Competency Profile

By Onyeka Ndukwe on August, 7 2019
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Onyeka Ndukwe

In July 2019, Sarah Beckett (HRSG’s VP of Marketing) and Zoe Wang (HRSG's Content Development Manager) hosted our webinar on how you can save time on your next competency profiling project.

In addition, we also had a guest panelist, Neil Penny (Learning & Development Consultant at Adaptavist) who talks in depth about how he was able to save numerous hours on his competency profiling project and the incredible outcomes he's achieved.

For this blog post, we will be mentioning some of the key insights and takeaways from this webinar.

If you want to watch the webinar yourself, you can do so by clicking this link.


Article table of contents (jump to a section):

1. What are competencies and how can they help my organization?
2. How did Adaptivist save hundreds of hours on its competency profiling project?
3. Do you have any advice for those working on creating competency profiles?
4. How HRSG can help



Key Insights/Takeaways

What are competencies and how can they help my organization?

Competencies are the KSAs (the knowledge, skills, abilities and traits) defined in behavioral terms and they describe what you expect successful performance to be on the job.

By focusing on the behaviors, competencies define expected performance into something you can see and measure. They provide a common language across different roles in teams and unify all the HR processes through the entire employee lifecycle.

For example, we've seen many organizations who start by applying competencies in a special process such as competency-based behavioral interviews. We also have clients that use competencies in their employee assessments. They also map their learning resources to competencies which helps them to support targeted learning and development.

There are also many organizations use core competencies to reinforce their values and strengths in their culture, and especially in times of massive transformation.

We like to see competencies as a golden thread that weaves through your HR processes and pulls them all together.

As you all know, it's not always easy to implement competency initiatives.

According to a Brandon Hall group study from a couple of years ago, respondents mentioned these factors that we have emphasized as the top barriers when it comes to planning/managing competencies:

  • Lack of budget (48%)
  • Difficulty in aligning competencies with business goals (41%)
  • Lack of coaching & mentoring within the organization (38%)
  • Lack of internal knowledge of how to develop competencies & competency models (38%)
  • Lack of automation (34%)

By looking at this list, you can see that they mostly revolve around resources and skills. Competency initiatives are usually time & money intensive and you often don't have the knowledge available internally.

That is why it makes a lot of sense to look for tools that can help you accelerate your competency profiling process.


How did Adaptivist save hundreds of hours on its competency profiling project?

Problem: There was a perceived flat hierarchical structure, a lack of clarity around roles and what "good" looks like in a job role. The progression was unclear in terms of where employees could go within the company, how they could develop in their careers and what that looked like from beginning to end.

In addition, there were several unclear approaches as to how Adaptavist would hire or recruit to support their daily business needs.

Objective: Bring structure to capitalize on Adaptavist’s growing workforce and save time when mapping competencies to every job role in the organization.

Solution: It’s easier than you think. Read the case study to learn how Adaptavist was able to solve this problem (see link below).


(Want to learn how Adaptavist saved hundreds of hours on competency profiling? Click here to download the Case Study.)


Do you have any advice for those working on creating competency profiles?

Here are 3 helpful tips for your next (or current) competency profiling project.

Tip #1: Use a competency dictionary

Don't reinvent the wheel. Instead, stand on the shoulders of a competency dictionary.

You should be looking for general behavioral (professional) competencies or technical competencies.

There is a very good chance that you can find off-the-shelf content that suits your needs or is good enough to help with your competency project. You can also build on that content (housed in the dictionary) and use it to develop your own competencies (as is applicable to the job positions and competency profiles in your organization).

It can help speed up the competency profiling process by giving you a solid foundation to build upon so you can avoid getting “bogged down” from the start. In Neil’s own words, using a competency dictionary “made it much easier for us to have our starting point and made the task a lot less daunting”.


Tip #2: Leverage technology

Leave the Excel spreadsheets behind and step into 2019.

For competency initiatives to be successful, there needs to be a lot of engagement with the stakeholders involved (different parts of the company), lots of collaboration at different stages and managing a ton of information.

With this comes a need to maintain your content over time where you might experience change in your workforce and there is always the risk of losing the gathered information.

According to Neil, Adaptavist was able to “draft out a job role in about 10 minutes using our software” which helped the competency project start off on the right foot.

“The fact is that I have all of the job roles housed in the system and that is our one source-of-truth library. I can make changes in there and if I change one, it changes all of the job roles. It's all about automation and efficiency that makes it so much easier to manage your stack of job roles across the organization.” - Neil Penny, Learning & Development Consultant at Adaptavist

At HRSG, our AI tool can help you with your competency profiling needs.

Here’s how it works: The machine learning function in our software analyzes those job responsibility statements on the job description and gives you a short list of relevant competencies that you can use.

Within the software, the AI generated competencies have been suggested at the level of proficiency required for the job role in question.


Tip #3: Identify your champions early on

This is essential when introducing any type of change in an organization.

You want to make sure that you have that top-level support from an executive sponsor and properly engage your early adopters. Getting any skeptics on board early in the process can be very, very helpful.

Once you locate your champions then everything else can then fall into place and this will help speed up the process. Without these champions, it can be quite challenging to implement or push forward with your competency profiling project.

In Neil’s case, there were two examples which highlight the importance of getting that stakeholder buy-in early on. For the one department head who was desperate for some sort of career development and knew that he needed to do something, the process went very quickly.

However, another stakeholder saw the competency profiling project as unnecessary and it took 6 months to convince him to come on board.

To ensure a smooth flow with your champions, be sure to highlight the benefits of your competency profiling project (on an individual and departmental level). You will also need to understand any key issues that are creating resistance and identify how to address those concerns.

It might also be necessary to show them (i.e. an example, scenario or simulation) what the benefits of your project can look like for their specific department.


How HRSG can help

Is it taking a long time to develop competencies in your organization? Are you currently stuck creating more than one competency profile?

If so, you might want to consider solutions/tools to help you to create competency profiles and use competencies the right way.

Here’s how CompetencyCore, our competency management software, can help your organization (see below):

  • Access our bank of over 500 pre-built competency profiles, as competency models, with the associated job description data. Created by our AI engine and easy to implement in your organization
  • Customize the competencies to reflect your company’s language and tone
  • Identify core competencies that reflect shared company values
  • Survey your stakeholders on the key competencies needed for jobs in your organization
  • Control how competencies are added to jobs and prevent accidental deletion

Want to learn how Adaptavist saved hundreds of hours on competency profiling? Check out the Case Study below

Download the Case Study using the form below.



Post last updated: August 7, 2019.