!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: The Competencies that Matter

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Competencies that Matter

For some time now, Training magazine has seemed to be a shadow of its former self — fewer pages and less rigorous articles than in the '90s, with a good deal of borrowing from training organizations' press releases. I'm glad that I've saved a considerable number of articles from the magazine's more substantive past, articles to which I refer regularly.

Recently, I was researching competency models and in my files came upon "Making Competencies Pay Off," by Timm J. Esque and Thomas F. Gilbert, from the January 1995 issue of Training.

The whole article, which unfortunately does not seem to be available online, is valuable, but I'd particularly cite (in slightly adapted form) the authors' summary of "a process for identifying competencies that really matter." They lay out six steps, and the questions to ask in carrying out each step:
  1. Define the mission of the job. What is the ultimate product or service that results from this job? Is this the product or service that best describes how this job contributes to the goals of the organization? How would I know if the mission has been achieved, i.e., what are the success criteria for achieving the mission?

  2. Describe the major outcomes required to achieve the mission. What outcomes are essential?

  3. Define performance standards for each essential outcome. What are the requirements of success for this outcome? How can each requirement be measured? How well do the best performers stack up against these measures today?

  4. Identify barriers to achieving the performance standards. What has prevented people from achieving the standards in the past? Which barriers, if overcome, will provide the greatest performance improvements?

  5. Determine how best to lower each barrier. Would the barrier best be addressed by clarifying performance expectations? by providing performance feedback? by providing better tools and job aids? by teaching the employee skills that will help overcome the barrier?

  6. Develop and implement a plan for lowering the barriers. What are the specific tasks that must be completed? Who is responsible for each? What are the due dates?
As with any initiative aimed at improving performance, a competency-based process must be both practical and strategically aligned. This is where the Esque-Gilbert process shines.


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