Much has been written about the benefits of multi-level competencies. But it’s harder to find information on just getting started.
There’s no shortage of research available about competency-based HR management processes. But because the research often focuses on mature processes, it usually doesn’t address the initial implementation from the ground up. As a result, while most HR professionals recognize the value of competencies, many are unsure how to begin integrating competencies into their talent management practice.
In fact, taking the first step is simple. Whether you choose multi-level or single-level competencies, and whether your objective is to manage change, strengthen organizational culture, improve retention, or anything else, the first step is always the same—develop job profiles.
Job profiles are the foundation on which all competency-based activities are built, because they identify the specific competencies and proficiency levels that define success for a specific job. This makes competencies concrete and tangible in the workplace, giving you a common language for describing successful performance, whether that’s in the context of hiring, performance management, career progression, or any other HR activity.
A competency-based job profile consists of a group of competencies required for a specific job. When you use multi-level competencies, the profile will limit the expression of each competency to the specific proficiency level required, lending greater clarity, focus, and utility to the profile. By utilizing a combination of general competencies—competencies describing the general behaviors required to perform effectively in a range of jobs—and technical competencies— competencies describing the application of knowledge and skills needed to perform effectively in a specific role or group of jobs—you can create highly targeted job profiles that focus both on the “soft skills” and “know-how” needed for successful performance.
The competency selection process may seem overwhelming when you consider that many competency vendors offer hundreds of competencies. HRSG, for example, maintains more than 550 multi-level competencies, including technical, general, and leadership competencies, with each competency containing five proficiency levels and 3-5 behavioral indicators per level.
But with automated solutions such as the CompetencyCore Profile Builder, the process of selecting competencies and applying them to profiles at the right proficiency level takes no more than a few months.
With profiles in place, you can apply competency-based management practices to any HR process. For example, you can improve the hiring process by using interview questions that relate to the competency at the specific proficiency level required for the job, or use proficiency levels to identify performance gaps and assign targeted remedial training opportunities.