What you need to know before implementing competencies

April 30, 2015 Sarah Beckett

Over HRSG’s 25 years working with clients to deploy competencies across the talent management lifecycle, one thing is consistently apparent: for a competency initiative to have real impact on a business, there must be a compelling need and will to change.

Competencies are a powerful tool that can be used to drive change within an organization, and as with any significant change initiative, it is not sufficient for the human resource or training professionals to see the need; leaders of the organization must also see the benefits and be willing to champion the initiative. Communicating the WIIFM – what’s in it for me – to employees is also a critical element. If employees see and understand how the new program will benefit them in their current jobs, as well as in advancing their careers, they will be much more likely to stand behind the change and adopt the new practices.

Once you have identified the business need, the champions for change, and the benefits of this new approach to your stakeholders, you are in a position to define a staged approach for developing and implementing competencies. When determining where to start, it is always important to circle back to the underlying need for change. For example, if your organization is facing a major shift in the company’s vision and values, there will be a need to clearly communicate this shift to employees in a way they can see how it impacts their day-to-day jobs. In this scenario, a good starting point is to roll out core competencies for the entire organization. If, on the other hand, the pressing need is to improve the performance of your sales team, you can start by developing competency profiles that define what success looks like for your sales organization. Roll the competency profiles out with an assessment and development program that measures impacts and results, and you can build significant momentum for the project by demonstrating success in a smaller pilot area.

Of course, like with any change initiative, communication is imperative at all stages of the planning, development and implementation process. In addition to promoting the value, benefits and ways in which the competency initiative will be implemented, stakeholder participation in the process is also important, not only to create “buy-in” for the initiative, but also to ensure that the competencies truly reflect the behaviors that will contribute to and sustain organizational success.

Photo credit: Garry Knight  via Flikr

About the Author

Sarah Beckett

Sarah is an experienced marketer with over 12 years experience. She drives HRSG brand marketing strategy and the implementation of all related programs.

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