Process of Developing Competency-Based PMS

The process of developing competency-based PMS involves the following steps:

1. Identify Core Positions within the Organisation: The process begins with the identification of the critical positions within the organization.

Senior-level and management positions often come to mind first, but identifying those positions that have a direct interface with customers should be considered as well.

After all, these are the people, who determine how your organization will be perceived.

2. Identify Key Soft Skills & Competencies for the Positions: Once those critical positions are determined, it is imperative to understand the soft and hard skills required of that position in order to achieve superior performance.

Determining the “hard” skills is relatively easy. However, determining and reaching an agreement on the “soft” required for performance in a position can be more difficult.

There are several tools available to assist with the identification of soft skills. Whatever tool is used must be comprehensive enough to identify the critical enablers to superior performance.

3. Assess Current Skill/Competency Levels of Incumbents and Candidates with Feedback Mechanisms: Once the core positions are understood and the critical competencies or talents required for superior performance in that position have been determined, a method of assessing how people’s talents and current performance compares to the competencies identified is required.

Feedback is critical at this stage. Utilizing multi-source feedback will identify current skills levels both from a strength and developmental need standpoint.

Multi-source feedback is generally taken more seriously by an individual than is feedback from a single source.

It is difficult to rationalize away consistent feedback from a variety of sources while being fairly easy to view single-source feedback as just an “opinion”.

The feedback should focus on the critical competencies identified for superior performance.

The results of that feedback will provide the information needed by an individual to utilize the strengths indicated to a greater degree and to put a developmental action plan together to strengthen those critical areas needed to improve performance.

4. Provide Training and Development in Necessary Competencies: Many organizations have good training programs they have developed internally or purchased externally.

A question to be asked is – “To what degree do these training and development opportunities support the identified competencies for a particular position?”

The links between the training being offered and the critical requirements of the position are not always in synchronization.

A training program’s objectives and outcomes should be targeted to the critical needs of the organization and to the positions they support.

If that alignment is absent, the training and development group must re-evaluate the courses being offered and design training that does support the competencies identified.

5. Conduct Behavioural Interviewing: Selecting the “right people for the right job” is critical to matching the requirements of the position with the “talents” of the person.

Ninety percent of all hiring and promotion decisions are made by an interview. Yet, traditional interviewing methods are effectively less than one out of five times. Some reasons for this are as follows:

  1. Interviewers not trained,
  2. Emotional decisions based on chemistry or style,
  3. Placing too much emphasis on education and technical (hard) skills and not enough on soft skills, and
  4. A lack of consistent understanding by the interviewer/s as to the critical behaviors/skills required for the position.

Behavioral interviewing is key to success in placing the right person in the right job the first time.

By understanding the soft and hard skills/competencies needed in the position, questions can be asked that will require the candidate to demonstrate the knowledge and experience required for success.

All interviewers demonstrate some bias in their approach to interviewing and tend to see people’s qualifications based on their view of the position.

A clear understanding of the behaviors, competencies, and skills required for superior performance in a position, the development of behaviourally-oriented questions, and a consistent approach to the interviewing process, will lead to a more objective hiring and promotion decision.

6. Performance Appraisal System Infrastructure Important/Reflect the Competencies Required in Performance Appraisal: In all focus groups conducted with employees concerning what they would like to see more of from management, one item is predictable – they want regular and consistent feedback on their job performance.

All of the elements of the competency-based performance management system discussed to this point are without value, if the performance appraisal system does not measure and provide feedback on the critical skills required of the position.

There must be consistency in evaluations across all persons in that position. Therefore, the current performance appraisal system must be evaluated and the necessary changes made to ensure that key competencies are part of the performance appraisal.

7. Establish Competency Performance Expectations for Incumbents: As the foundation for a competency-based performance management system is completed, it is important that everyone understands the competencies that apply to their positions.

At all levels of the organization, the people in critical positions must understand the hard and soft skills required of them to achieve superior performance.

It is the role of management to hold a face-to-face meeting with each person to discuss the skills and competencies required.

Every organization has goals and objectives that the senior management team has established.

These goals and objectives must be cascaded throughout the company in order for all energies to be focused on the accomplishment of those objectives.

All employees should have objectives and performance expectations that relate to the companies goals.

People, to perform well, must be able to see the value and the “fit” they and their performance add to the success of the organization.

Without that, people see their jobs as just “work” rather than a contribution of value. The development of competencies is part of the “expectation setting” discussion.

8. Provide On-Going Feedback, Coaching, Evaluation, and Recognition: Every step in the competency-based performance management system is without value unless there is a process in place to communicate actual performance.

Every person wants and needs feedback on their performance. It is the role of management to provide quality feedback to people on the areas of their performance that are meeting, exceeding, and underachieving the agreed-upon performance standards.

Feedback should be given on a regular basis and should be the lead- into constructive coaching. Coaching is a critical enabler for achieving superior performance.

Coaching is the tool that management uses to assist people in their development by providing resources, training, education, and guidance.

Coaching is a critical skill and all effective managers consider coaching to be an important part of their role.

Evaluation and recognition go hand-in-hand in emphasizing the importance of all phases of the competency-based performance management system.

A formal evaluation is only the summation of the feedback and coaching on the performance of an individual at a point in time. Evaluation reinforces the need for superior performance of critical competencies, both the hard and soft skills.

Recognition is a conscious behavior on the part of the organization to reward and recognize the behaviors of individuals that support the goals and objectives of both the organization and the individual’s job.

For example, if the organization defines a “high level of integrity” as an expectation of a manager, then only people that demonstrate and are perceived as possessing and demonstrating a “high level of integrity” would be promoted or recognized.

The key is recognizing the behaviors which are to be reinforced.

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