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Outsource magazine: thought-leadership and outsourcing strategy | September 21, 2017

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Competency mapping is changing professional development forever

Competency mapping is changing professional development forever
Mark Pollack

Jack Welch once said, “Change before you have to.” In today’s rapidly innovating business world, change is, frankly, inevitable. Business needs change and skill sets have to keep up. But how do you know if you are making the right changes and developing the correct skills as roles and responsibilities evolve? And how do organisations transition from job-centred to people-centred as routine tasks shift to knowledge-based work?

Let’s take a moment to define competencies. Competencies are measurable behavioural skills that impact the successful completion of any job, or role. Organisations will align particular competencies to each level and department of the company, thus producing a group of core competencies needed for long-term success.

Nathan was a loyal category manager at Didgeridoo Services for eight years. He had annual performance reviews and bi-weekly one-on-ones with his manager. While his performance was always good, there was no map to great. Nathan’s manager would give feedback and help mentor him to perform better, but the coaching process wasn’t formalised, and conversations lacked consistency. Nathan wasn’t alone at Didgeridoo Services. Many of his colleagues were craving development feedback, but again, each manager has their procedure based on personal experience, not process.

So how do competencies help clarify coaching?

Competencies are forward-facing tools that allow leaders to map the future through a prescriptive process. Leaders can add their personal voice to the development, but the concepts are rooted in years of research and hundreds of thousands of examples.

Nathan’s company has now applied competencies to the job roles, to the department and further to the organisation. These competencies help identify the core skills needed to be successful throughout the enterprise as determined by internal stakeholders. Nathan enters his performance meeting with a development plan that he created based on the information he learned from his personal 360-degree competency assessment.

Nathan and his manager review the development guide and compare his development plan to the competencies needed to be successful in the current role, but also Nathan’s aspirational role. Nathan and his manager use a portion of the bi-weekly one-on-one to discuss and review training opportunities that align to the development plan. The meeting objectives are focused squarely in the competency development plan that all have agreed are priorities.

We work in a business world where the concept of coaching is positive, yet overwhelming. This overwhelming task of training and coaching leads to an underwhelming experiences because a lack of clarity didn’t exist between the competencies needed and those demanding development.

What questions should we be asking?

  • How do we know where our development is leading?
  • What if we could have a direct impact on the organisation by strengthening the competencies we have and developing those that could be lacking?
  • How can we create better individual development plans for ourselves? For our teams? For our departments? For our companies?

These are questions we should ask ourselves as individual contributors, as coaches and as organisational leaders. There are resources available, such as SIG University that help align job roles, not in job descriptions or tasks, but in job competencies.

What are the long-term effects of not developing our most critical commodity, our people?

Employees are the most valuable resource to any organisation. Without highly-trained personnel, the quality of your product and service is compromised which could lead to loss of business. Another side-effect of poor development is the outflow of your qualified talent to your competitors. By taking a systematic and calculated approach to coaching and training, you can create an environment of inclusion, inspiration, loyalty and innovation.

Korn Ferry, 2016, stated that competency mapping has proven to outlast job descriptions many times over:

  • Additional $3 million USD in annual profit per top-level executive candidate selected using a new competency model.
  • Increased net profits when sales and marketing vice presidents improved on key competencies.
  • Reduced turnover costs of $580,000 per executive when key competencies that drive performance are developed.

SIG University’s CEO and I are proud to be Korn Ferry Certified in Competency Mapping and 360 Feedback. We have seen the dramatic change as organisations move from job-centred training to people-centred development by using these tools. Become engaged with your team at a development level and see the drastic change in motivation and productivity.

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