Using competencies to uncover hidden talent

August 15, 2017 Caitlin Leishman

The success of an organization is built on the strengths and talents of its employees, and many organizations spend significant amounts of time and money attempting to identify and develop key talent. So why is it that there are so many organizations struggling to fill roles, and so many people struggling to find employment? Many look outside their current pool of staff to meet their talent needs, which is a time-consuming and expensive venture. An alternative and less commonly used method is to source from within, which has many benefits when done properly.

However, organizations often struggle to identify talented individuals that haven’t reached their full potential. Focusing too much on past performance, manager nominations, and technical skills, means that formal identification programs are often skewed towards employees who are more focused on themselves than the organization. So what can be done to better identify talented employees internally?

1.Focus on more than technical abilities

Although technical competencies help identify those with skills key to specific jobs, they are not the only factor in achievement potential. Behavioral competencies are important contributors to determining if someone will be successful in various positions at varying levels. When considering potential it is also important to look at future leadership ability. Leadership competencies help to identify transformational leaders, focus on more than individual performance, and are a good judge of leadership talent.

2.Use accurate tools

Although there are multiple methods of predicting future performance, it is important to find one that consistently lets you predict excellent, good, average, and poor performers. Competencies are an excellent way to do this as they provide the blueprint for evidence-based assessment. Because competencies are measurable and observable, they are understood in a clear and a transparent way, allowing for a greater level of accuracy than simply judging an employee’s all-around performance.

3.Use data to your advantage

Competencies are based on proven methods of identifying talent and fit, and provide data driven theories on how to correctly identify potential. When you hire employees based on select competencies, you can increase the likelihood of having a number of employees ready to take on more responsibilities. These competencies should be a mix of behavioral, technical, and leadership competencies.

4.Don’t overlook the introverts

Traditional activities designed to engage talent and look for leadership potential are almost always directed towards extroverts. This means that the talents of introverts are often overshadowed, and their abilities are underused. With competencies, you can determine what their specific strengths are, and how they can be used to the organization’s advantage. For instance, many introverts are skilled at listening and empathizing with others, independent work, and assessing situations. These skills often aren’t as noticed as a talkative extrovert in a meeting, but are extremely valuable in leadership positions.

By using these techniques to identify talent within your organization you’ll likely come across those who might have otherwise been overlooked. Competencies are an excellent way to redefine your talent management strategy, improve organizational and employee performance, and identify/quantify the behaviors of successful performers in various roles. 

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