Clarkston Consulting
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Unified Competency Model

In my previous blog post, The Heart of Talent Management: Skills, we made the case that an understanding of the importance of skills is at the heart of talent management. When we know what skills we need, and what skills we have as an organization, then we can properly manage the talent requirements of our organization. Let’s now take that concept and broaden it out just a bit. Let’s think about the broader notion of competencies. And in particular, let’s think about the need for a unified competency model which spans not only the full life cycle of the employee, but also spans the organization itself. Employees occupy positions. You may prefer to call this a job or a role. The terminology is not overly important. No matter what we call it, we should be able to define the competencies required in order to function effectively in that position/job/role. Suppose we have a Customer Service position and for that position there are ten key competencies required in order to function effectively in this role. Just by defining what these competencies are, we have made a huge first step. Yet, we can go further. We should ask what level of achievement an employee should meet on these ten competencies. Perhaps six of them are so essential to the job that we expect any person in this position to achieve these six competencies at a 75% level. Perhaps the other four competencies are more challenging, and we only expect the typical employee to reach a 50% achievement level on these. With an understanding of what competencies we care about, and what level of achievement we expect to see, we have the beginnings of a solid competency model. Now all we need to do is develop the same competencies, along with the expected achievement levels, across all roles in our organization. In other words, rinse and repeat. I will give you a few moments…come back when you’re done. <smile> Okay, now that we have defined expected competencies and expected achievement levels across all of our organization’s roles, we can start to leverage this in very practical ways. What we’re building is a unified competency model – and with the help of solutions like SuccessFactors – we can turn the unified aspect of this into reality. With the Recruiting module, we can use these defined competencies for interview criteria. This helps us hire people who can truly perform at the expected level. Within the Career Development module, employees can identify developmental goals to help them better meet the defined competencies at the expected level. Using the Career Development module again, managers and employees can plan career paths based on these defined competencies. New opportunities for which employees are nearly qualified can be easily identified. Developmental goals can then be designed to bring the employees to the required level of competency. These developmental goals can be realized through the Learning Management module, which permits managers to find courses and educational opportunities for employees to develop needed competencies or enhance the achievement of existing competencies. With the Performance Management module, managers are able to provide very helpful annual performance appraisals which are tightly coupled to the expected competencies of the position. Most organization pay their employees based upon the results of the Performance Management process. The Compensation module allows organizations to align their compensation philosophy to competency-based performance. And with all these pieces working together in harmony, managers and HR are able to know who to promote and when – again, based on this unified competency library. The beauty of a unified competency model is that we provide a unified set of expectations that spans the full life cycle of an employee and the entire organization. At every step of the employee life-cycle, both employees and the company are making rational decisions that are aligned with the goals and requirements of the organization. Around here, we call that progress!