In this appendix, we offer several suggestions for HR practitioners who plan to establish a competency-based employee development process in an organization. Not all suggestions will apply equally to every organization or work unit.
The person assigned to spearhead the effort must establish a process for documenting the progress of the work. Documentation should include explanations of all techniques and tools, both the ones that worked and those that did not meet expectations. Testimonials from employees, managers, supervisors, team leaders, and others should be put in writing and logged for future reference. The log will be useful for conducting public relations campaigns and justifying budget requests.
Career development efforts should always start small and grow gradually. It takes time and considerable effort to implement the competency-based process, after which employees must complete development activities before they can begin contributing to the organization's success. Certainly it would not be unusual for a full calendar year to elapse between system implementation and the production of observable, measurable results. Leaders of organizations often have difficulty realizing the value of the effort when its benefits are not readily apparent. For this reason, small expenditures that produce observable and measurable results should be the objective of every employee development effort.
Take every opportunity to inform the organization's leaders of the short- and long-term returns on their investment in the competency-based process, and do so in a timely manner. An important truism applies here: What the CEO supports, all support.
Career coaches can be trained as ambassadors for the competency-based employee development process. They can collect information and communicate it to the sponsoring work unit or throughout the organization, as appropriate. They can also source information for employees. Consult Simonsen (1997) for strategies for marketing an employee development system in an organizational context.
Schedule regular informational sessions for participants in the employee development process. Topics could include organization life and possible development opportunities. Senior managers could play a role by talking about the business, its current and future needs, and how employees can contribute toward meeting those needs. Senior managers should also honestly communicate the organization's succession planning and management practices to all employees. Succession planning should not be limited to senior management but should be a priority for many positions in the organization.
When employees show signs of distress while discussing their life-career issues, the HR practitioner should refer them to a qualified career counselor. It is important to understand that employees may enter the development process with issues that they portray or perceive as work related but which are instead due to personal factors. HR practitioners must recognize when this is the case and should never practice beyond their level of expertise, no matter how well they know these employees. The HR practitioner should confirm that assistance has been provided by following up with employees and, if necessary, the career counselor. Credentialed career development facilitators or counselors should be available either as employees of the organization or as contracted consultants.
Specialized seminars can be designed and presented to address specific life-work issues such as resume development, child care or elder care needs, competency development concerns, and other topics. Systematically assess needs before taking action on this suggestion.
Helping employees to achieve their agreed-upon employee development objectives should be a job performance assessment factor for every supervisor, team leader, manager, and executive in the organization. As a part of their overall performance rating, it should affect their pay and other benefits.
An employee development process (whether competency based or traditional) can very easily fail because the organization's leaders do not understand the value of the life-career approach and will not endorse its use. The person who spearheads the employee development effort must continually work to ensure that decision makers and senior leaders accept the importance of these practices.