As part of reviewing a Company’s recruiting process, the senior talent executive broached the subject of reviewing and updating the organization’s competencies – specifically a list of roughly ten behaviors expected of all employees. She pointed out to me that the competencies were probably outdated and should be refreshed. I asked how the competencies are presently being used. Her response indicated that they are used in structured recruiting interviews as well as in the annual evaluation process. This led to an extensive discussion about the role of competencies in Talent Management.
It is not unusual for companies to have broad organization-wide competency aspirations, especially at the leadership levels. Properly deployed, such competencies and development programs driving employees to learn and exhibit them can play an important role in developing leaders, growing talent and shaping culture. When it comes to recruiting and evaluations, however, assuming that the organization’s core or leadership competencies should play a significant role in all hires and evaluations, irrespective of role, is a big mistake. The same can often be said for development.
It is interesting to consider that no talent executive would institute programs to drive a company-wide set of skills. In this case, it is just clear that many skills need to be job specific. Yet, somehow, when it comes to competencies, all too often, this logic is lost. So what is the right approach?
Many competencies, like skills, need to be determined for the specific job. The best way to do this is to assess the important competencies displayed by top performers in the job. Excellent assessment tools exist to facilitate this process. Broader leadership competencies, in turn, need to be linked to top performers in leadership roles and developed appropriately as high potential employees advance through the organization. A well designed Career Development Center will support this entire process and link to performance at the same time. After all, what gets measured gets done. Let’s measure the right things!