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Making Competency Models Stick with Proven Results

By Lisa Malley

Lisa MalleyIn recent years, organizations have been focusing more of their attention on creating enterprise-wide competency models that will help support their business strategies and better align their talent management systems. The days of HR-driven models are gone and have been replaced with business-driven models that support overall organizational strategies. The focus on the business calls out specific challenges that need to be addressed in order to effectively implement those models across talent management systems. Those challenges not only require rigor in the competency model development process, but also require great consideration and strategy when it comes to selling and marketing that model to the entire organization. Despite the great energy and effort associated with the development of these competencies, often times, the models quickly lose steam for various reasons.

In order to ensure "stickiness" and sustainability, there are a number of best practices organizations should employ during the various phases of development and deployment:

  1. First, during the design phase it is critical that you ensure the model/content is tied to your business and cultural strategies and is relevant to all target levels. It’s also important to ensure that the model focuses on behaviors and NOT tasks.
  2. Next, when launching the model and engaging the organization you MUST have a plan in place to be able to measure the value to the business. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Just as important, you need to have an engaging and globally acceptable education plan and communication strategy, and a long-term plan in place to continuously integrate the model into your various talent management functions.
  3. Finally, in order to optimize and ensure sustainability (e.g., stickiness) you must start to measure. You can do this by collecting and sharing success stories and finding ways to evaluate the impact of specific competency applications. If something isn’t working—find out what and take action. This is, by far, the phase where most organizations fall short.

By employing these best practices you can extend the life of your competency frameworks.

Lisa Malley is operations manager, consulting services organization for DDI.

Posted: 26 May, 2015,
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