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Discovering Future Performers in Your Team

~ By ExecutiveBrief

Project manager shaking hands

Browse up on your organisation's competency requirements and set more informed business directions concerning your people.

Management needs a checkpoint to determine if performance meets organisational requirements, given the knowledge and skills set of the employees. This is the birth of competency analysis.

Identifying Competency Models For Your Organisation

Each company has several job groups and, inherently, levels of jobs within those groups. For instance, for the job group "accounting," you are likely to have levels beginning at staff and ending at Vice President. Other job groups may be for marketing, engineering, human resources, and so on. Identifying job groups and levels lays the foundation for profiling competency requirements of the various functional units within your company.

Having competency models that are anchored on company strategy and objectives enables you to identify the competencies required to accomplish such strategy. To do this, review each job group in relation to company objectives and identify the competencies that support the corporate objectives. The set of required competencies and the corresponding levels will change as you examine the many jobs that you have in the organisation. Rather than pulling rotten apples out of the basket, developing competency-based HR activities presents a more positive approach to addressing mediocre performance. Having identified the competencies that are required for a job, the next step is to create a scorecard of performance that should dictate the range of acceptable levels of proficiency of the employees.

Determine what differentiates a typical performer from an outstanding performer for each competency, preferably from within the same functional unit to address the peculiarity of the required competency as it applies to the individual job function. By understanding how outstanding performers demonstrate the competency versus typical performers, you can define the competency in such a way that it describes top performance.

Using Tools in Managing Performance

Once all of your models have been completed and validated (usually by engaging line managers/people to participate in workshops and specialised feedback forms), you can develop a tool to assess the workforce to determine what the most urgent training and development needs are for your company.

Ideally, competency models are used as basis to link together recruitment and selection, performance assessment and management, training and development, succession planning and rewards and recognition. Leading ERP providers like Oracle can support this process of managing performance using competencies through their performance management module by enabling companies to:

  1. Define corporate objectives and track them throughout the year
  2. Align individual objectives with that of the enterprise
  3. Evaluate an individual's competencies and progress on objectives at a point in time
  4. Enable feedback on an individual's performance by multiple participants

Building a competence database for your enterprise allows you to link the performance management function to other human resource activities providing a uniform source of data for analysis and decision. For example, if you identified interpersonal relations as a competency where there is a gap between what the company requires and what the employees in the accounting department demonstrates, this piece of information can be used to administer learning programmes targeting particular skills to increase the proficiency level of your workers.

Systems Approach to Competency Analysis: A New Dimension

For some companies, systematically identifying superior and average performers on the job have worked miracles for the performance of its various HR functions. For most, this has been a key to preventing arbitrary firings and poor employee engagement. Development Dimensions International (DDI), in its monograph "Developing Dimension Competency Based Human Resource Systems" discusses the development and proven efficacy and effectiveness of taking on a systems-thinking approach in understanding the concept of 'Dimension' or competency and in leveraging on competency models to streamline business processes and effectively improve individual and unit performance as part of the organisation.

DDI defines both competencies and dimensions as "descriptions of clusters or groupings of behaviours, motivations, and knowledge related to job success or failure under which data on motivation, knowledge, or behaviour can be reliably classified." It further explains that "Dimensions/Competencies" can be derived from:

  1. A study of the job activities and motivations of successful and unsuccessful incumbents (traditional job analysis);
  2. A knowledge of the job or job level combined with a complete understanding of the vision and values of the organisation (typical in rapidly changing jobs or organisations); or
  3. A combination of the techniques described in 1 and 2

It is critical to internalise the idea of an integrated systems approach to situations and problems in determining the profile of high-performers in your organisation, crafting your competency models, determining requirements of your job groups, and identifying competency gaps across business units.

The dilemma described by the DDI monograph typical of programmes lacking system integration is that many organisations have human resource training programmes that encourage action in one direction and a compensation system that encourages action in another. They often have career planning or succession planning programmes that don't fit with performance management or training programmes. It is also common for organisations to use one set of criteria for reviewing performance in a job and a different set for selecting employees into the job.

Bridging the Competency Gap with an Integration Strategy

Integration as talent management and development strategy proves to be the theme of the recently announced IBM training programme. In a speech in Washington last July, Chief executive Samuel J. Palmisano announced that the company has established individual training and education accounts for employees where an IBM worker can put as much as $1,000 annually into an account that would be similar to a 401(k) retirement fund. The company will put in an equivalent of 50 percent added to the personal contribution of the employee. Along with a leadership development programme that will bring together IBM staff from different countries to work with non-governmental organisations, this new learning account is part of what IBM calls its Global Citizen's Portfolio - a three-year $60 million programme launched to help IBMers' integrate into the company's 'one global manpower.'

We believe that this kind of programme will help us attract the smartest and most creative workforce, Palmisano said in line with the global programme, explaining we used to have separate supply chains in different markets…now we have one supply chain, a global one. Where we used to think about our human capital - our people - in terms of countries and regions and business units, we now manage and deploy them as one global asset.

According to Palmisano, giving employees more control over their training and career direction will increase their engagement. And this borderless-world programme of IBM will surely keep their people globally engaged, targeting competitiveness and increasing human resource value in the various projects and the organisation as a whole. The important thing is we're trying to have this integration of competency and value, Palmisado said.


ExecutiveBrief, the technology management resource for business leaders, offers proven tips, techniques, and action plans that companies can use to better manage people, processes and tools - the keys to improving their business performance. To learn more, please visit: SoftServe United Blog

© ExecutiveBrief 2008


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