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Why You Should Align Your Competencies And Business Goals

By Caitlin Leishman on October, 10 2017
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Caitlin Leishman

Did you know that almost two-thirds of organizations have no competency program or are still working to define competencies for mission critical positions?


Brandon Hall Group’s recent study on competency management reveals the high level of importance organizations should place on aligning their business goals with their competencies. This study received 449 global responses, covering a range of industries and organization sizes.

According to the data, 19% of organizations that actually utilize competencies say that their competencies and business goals are aligned.

An organization’s ability to invest in, and develop competencies aligned with business objectives determines the maturity of their competency management practice. The research shows that the level of maturity determines the impact on key business indicators as well as on other talent management practices.

To gauge how organizations are faring with competencies, Brandon Hall Group, using the research results, developed a Competency Maturity Model. It illustrates four levels of maturity, along with definitions of each level.

This model (see below) shows the breakdown of organizations at various levels of maturity in their competency initiatives.

Brandon Hall Group Competency Maturity Model

Brandon Hall Group Maturity Model

 You can see that a very small number, only eight percent, have a fully optimized competency management program. This is a huge missed opportunity, as having a fully developed and aligned competency management program has a significant impact. For instance, level 4 organizations are:

  • 55% more likely to have increased revenue over the past year.
  • 45% more likely to have increased customer retention over the past year.
  • 41% more likely to have increased customer satisfaction over the past year.

The research shows that 41% of organizations have difficulty aligning competencies with business goals. Organizations that align competencies with business goals are 67% more likely than other organizations to rate their top competency objectives as effective.

So, how do you align your competencies and business goals?


Aligning employee skills

Let’s say your organization operates in an industry where new, disruptive technologies are released on a regular basis, forcing your organization to respond quickly to remain competitive. From a talent perspective, this means that you will need your employees to be highly adaptable, and modify their behavior to perform effectively amidst continuous change.

This is an example of how a specific competency, in this case Adaptability, could be given higher importance when looking at the kind of skills to hire for or to develop.


Addressing workforce vulnerabilities

There are many situations that can put your workforce in a vulnerable position. An example of this is the rapidly changing demographics facing many North American organizations. Without proper systems in place to identify leadership potential among the younger generation companies are putting themselves at increased risk.

Incorporating competency-based assessments is an effective way to identify the employees that possess the key behaviors that will make them successful leaders, or possess those at-risk skills.


Getting organizational buy-in

Trying to steer an organization in a new direction can be difficult. If you’re trying to ramp up your competency management, you will need support organization-wide.

By informing your leadership team early, you’ll ensure that the people with the most power to drive change will drive the initiative forward. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Try tailoring your message to fit the audience and create different lists of competency benefits for various stakeholders.
  • Avoid the common mistake of investing 90% of project resources into development and deployment of competencies, and only 10% into communicating the project goals and outcomes to others.
  • If possible, consider hiring a competency specialist to help you sell the idea.

While aligning business goals with competencies can seem a daunting task, when properly approached it is relatively simple and incredibly effective. Organizations are more likely to have success with competencies when they make a strong investment to create a well-developed, mature process.