Appendix A Frequently Asked Questions About Competency-Based HR Management

While we have been talking and listening to others about competency-based human resource management, we have received numerous questions as intrigued listeners have thought about it. Here are some actual questions and answers on the issue.

Q: 

How can HR practitioners justify the costs involved with identifying competencies, establishing competency models, and implementing these models?

competency identification is based on the view that exemplary performers, who exist in each job category, can be much more productive than average performers in the same job category. if it were possible to get all employees up to the level of exemplars (the so-called best-in-class workers), then an organization might be able to get the same work out with far fewer people. alternatively, they might be able to get much more work done with the same number of people. of course, that is only the theory. the reality is that some competencies must be hired or selected for (for example, patience ). only some competencies can be developed through training, coaching, experience, education, or other learning pursuits.

Q: 

How can HR practitioners sell management on the importance of performing competency identification, competency assessment, and competency modeling?

see our answer to question 1. in addition, the notion of jobs is becoming outdated. competencies are more enduring than jobs, though it is important to remember that a competency is inherent to individuals and is not resident in the work that they do. in other words, you (as a person) have competencies. it is up to the company or employer to figure out how best to identify, quantify, and harness those talents. additionally, job descriptions speak only to the activities or duties that people carry out-not to the results they are intended to get. research continually shows that workers and their organizational superiors differ on their expectations about what results should be obtained by the worker. but competency models do speak to results, working backward to the qualities that people need to obtain them. moreover, in an age when people have grown to appreciate the value of emotional intelligence, competency models do a better job than job descriptions at helping to describe important yet intangible elements that are essential to job success. (educators have, for some time now, called that the affective domain of learning.) for instance, would you like a doctor who is technically proficient but who does not treat you like a human being? the intangible part of a doctors job is to treat you like a human being, and thats exactly what we are talking about. as work involves more relationships-that is, with customers and with coworkers-the intangible, affective domain, the emotional intelligence issue, only grows more important.

Q: 

Do you have any case studies involving organizations that have gone through the competency implementation process?

many case studies have been published that involve organizations that have implemented competency-based hr in one or all facets of their hr effort. one particular work includes details of twelve cases of competency-based performance improvement applications in a variety of organization settings. see dubois, 1998.

Q: 

What tools should practitioners use to link competency models to the organization's core competencies and strategic strengths?

it is better to think of methodologies (that is, approaches) than tools (which sound like gimmicks ). the big challenge in this line of work is that everyone wants quick fixes. but there is a trade-off between rigor and speed. there are thousands of competency models that you can get for free on the web. and some organizations have even published books full of the competency models collected from various organizations. but their value is suspect. why? the answer is simple: to be most useful, a competency model must be based on the corporate culture in which the performer carries out his or her work; and competencies are based on the person, not on the work.

Q: 

What does a competency-based HR management organization look like?

all aspects of the traditional hr function are based on work analysis, which has job descriptions as its chief output. but a competency-based hr management organization adds and emphasizes the many competency models to updated job descriptions. all aspects of hr-from recruitment and selection through training through performance management and appraisal through employee reward systems-are based on competencies. dubois and rothwell (2000) covered the how to of competency identification, modeling, and assessment. it is now time to think of how to implement competency models across an organization or its hr functions.

Q: 

What advice do you have for those who are interested in pursuing competency-based HR management?

buy this book.

Q: 

If an organization can't afford to apply competency modeling to all its jobs, how should it determine its priorities?

you can take a slipshod, quick, dirty, and cheap approach to competency modeling-just as you can for analyzing work to come-up with job descriptions. so we think the question is not, what do you do if you can	 afford it? but rather, how do you do it with any value when you may be facing other pressures? one approach is to outsource the work by hiring competent external consulting assistance.

Q: 

What is the dynamic between individual competencies and job descriptions, and how are jobs modified based on who's in the job?

you are asking about what is called personalization , which is how the person modifies the job (or corporate culture) to suit himself or herself. it is the opposite of socialization, which is how the organization modifies a person to conform to the corporate culture. less research exists on personalization than on socialization. in a pure competency-based system, the foundation would not be jobs but competencies. that means we would build a job to fit the persons talents with the view in mind of leveraging that individuals intellectual capital and the individuals key strengths and talents.

Q: 

What is the dynamic between established competencies (as a kind of standard) and the unique ways that individuals get the job done that might not fit the mold—for example, an enormous strength that compensates for considerable gaps?

we do not know what you mean by established competencies. do you mean the difference between what fully successful (read average ) performers do and what exemplary performers do? or do you mean off-the-shelf competencies from print or online sources? the best competency models are corporate culture specific. of course, many off-the-shelf competency models exist. but they do not get at the corporate cultural context in which the individual performs. that is why it is best to devise corporate culture-specific models.

Q: 

How does the possibility of unanticipated ways in which people can be successful get taken into account in the use of competencies?

well, good competency models are developed directly from the people within the organization. you discover, during so-called behavioral event interviews, what they do. your question continues to assume that the focus is on work activities-which is how we read ways in which people can be successful. but competency-based hr is about discovering the characteristics shared by superstar performers to get work results-and then selecting or developing other people to achieve similar quantum leaps in productivity improvement. imagine a job description that lists the results or outcomes expected of people instead of the duties or responsibilities (activities) they are expected to carry out. typical job descriptions fall flat because they focus on how the work is done. competency models, if done well, determine what results we want (results or outcomes) and work backward.

Q: 

How do competencies in an organization at a particular time reflect organizational culture, management philosophy, and trends in management theory and education?

competencies are reflections of the existing culture, in most cases. do not confuse corporate core competencies with individual competencies. corporate core competencies refer to strategic strengths or what the organization does better than any other and what really cannot be outsourced. individual competencies focus on the characteristics shared by successful-or even exemplary-performers. it is possible to invent a competency model for the future to which nobody in the current organization fits. in fact, that is one way to start to make operational a strategic plan. if that is done, people can be assessed-using competency assessment centers or 360-degree competency assessment-for the competencies from the competency model that we believe will be needed in the organization if the strategic plan is to be realized.

Q: 

What is the range of the possible types of items that make up competencies—for example, tasks, skills, values, and so on?

competencies are about the characteristics individuals possess and use in appropriate ways that help them get desired results in the context of a unique corporate cultural context. these characteristics include knowledge, skills, mind-sets, thought patterns, or social roles. increasingly, organizations are using competency models to get results. but they are supplementing that work with value systems or value models to build in the increasingly important domain of ethics and rules.

Q: 

What is the relative nature of competencies regarding the level of detail or comprehensiveness (scoping competencies)?

a competency cannot be measured by itself. to do that you must establish behavioral indicators, which can be as time-consuming and expensive as doing the competency study to begin with. we believe that behaviorally anchored rating scales and their cousins, behaviorally anchored observation scales and behaviorally anchored expectations scales, are the most rigorous ways to do that.

Q: 

Can competency systems form the basis of most or all of the HR components of an organization—such as selection, evaluation, compensation, and development?

yes. we call that competency-based human resource management. all facets of hr can be reinvented, and competencies, rather than jobs or work activities, can be used as the foundation for an hr system. think of using competency-based hr as being like switching from a windows-based to a unix-based computer. it simply runs the operating system on a different foundation.

Answers

A: 

Competency identification is based on the view that exemplary performers, who exist in each job category, can be much more productive than average performers in the same job category. If it were possible to get all employees up to the level of exemplars (the so-called best-in-class workers), then an organization might be able to get the same work out with far fewer people. Alternatively, they might be able to get much more work done with the same number of people. Of course, that is only the theory. The reality is that some competencies must be hired or selected for (for example, "patience"). Only some competencies can be developed through training, coaching, experience, education, or other learning pursuits.

A: 

See our answer to question 1. In addition, the notion of "jobs" is becoming outdated. Competencies are more enduring than jobs, though it is important to remember that a competency is inherent to individuals and is not resident in the work that they do. In other words, you (as a person) have competencies. It is up to the company or employer to figure out how best to identify, quantify, and harness those talents.

Additionally, job descriptions speak only to the activities or duties that people carry out—not to the results they are intended to get. Research continually shows that workers and their organizational superiors differ on their expectations about what results should be obtained by the worker. But competency models do speak to results, working backward to the qualities that people need to obtain them. Moreover, in an age when people have grown to appreciate the value of emotional intelligence, competency models do a better job than job descriptions at helping to describe important yet intangible elements that are essential to job success. (Educators have, for some time now, called that the affective domain of learning.) For instance, would you like a doctor who is technically proficient but who does not treat you like a human being? The intangible part of a doctor's job is to treat you like a human being, and that's exactly what we are talking about. As work involves more relationships—that is, with customers and with coworkers—the intangible, affective domain, the emotional intelligence issue, only grows more important.

A: 

Many case studies have been published that involve organizations that have implemented competency-based HR in one or all facets of their HR effort. One particular work includes details of twelve cases of competency-based performance improvement applications in a variety of organization settings. See Dubois, 1998.

A: 

It is better to think of methodologies (that is, approaches) than tools (which sound like "gimmicks").

The big challenge in this line of work is that everyone wants quick fixes. But there is a trade-off between rigor and speed. There are thousands of competency models that you can get for free on the Web. And some organizations have even published books full of the competency models collected from various organizations. But their value is suspect. Why? The answer is simple: To be most useful, a competency model must be based on the corporate culture in which the performer carries out his or her work; and competencies are based on the person, not on the work.

A: 

All aspects of the traditional HR function are based on work analysis, which has "job descriptions" as its chief output. But a competency-based HR management organization adds and emphasizes the many competency models to updated job descriptions. All aspects of HR—from recruitment and selection through training through performance management and appraisal through employee reward systems—are based on competencies. Dubois and Rothwell (2000) covered the "how to" of competency identification, modeling, and assessment. It is now time to think of how to implement competency models across an organization or its HR functions.

A: 

Buy this book.

A: 

You can take a slipshod, quick, dirty, and cheap approach to competency modeling—just as you can for analyzing work to come-up with job descriptions. So we think the question is not, "What do you do if you can't afford it?" but rather, "How do you do it with any value when you may be facing other pressures?" One approach is to outsource the work by hiring competent external consulting assistance.

A: 

You are asking about what is called personalization, which is how the person modifies the job (or corporate culture) to suit himself or herself. It is the opposite of socialization, which is how the organization modifies a person to conform to the corporate culture. Less research exists on personalization than on socialization.

In a pure competency-based system, the foundation would not be jobs but competencies. That means we would build a job to fit the person's talents with the view in mind of leveraging that individual's intellectual capital and the individual's key strengths and talents.

A: 

We do not know what you mean by established competencies. Do you mean the difference between what fully successful (read "average") performers do and what exemplary performers do? Or do you mean "off-the-shelf" competencies from print or online sources?

The best competency models are corporate culture specific. Of course, many off-the-shelf competency models exist. But they do not get at the corporate cultural context in which the individual performs. That is why it is best to devise corporate culture—specific models.

A: 

Well, good competency models are developed directly from the people within the organization. You discover, during so-called behavioral event interviews, what they do.

Your question continues to assume that the focus is on work activities—which is how we read "ways in which people can be successful." But competency-based HR is about discovering the characteristics shared by superstar performers to get work results—and then selecting or developing other people to achieve similar quantum leaps in productivity improvement.

Imagine a job description that lists the results or outcomes expected of people instead of the duties or responsibilities (activities) they are expected to carry out. Typical job descriptions fall flat because they focus on how the work is done. Competency models, if done well, determine what results we want (results or outcomes) and work backward.

A: 

Competencies are reflections of the existing culture, in most cases.

Do not confuse corporate core competencies with individual competencies. Corporate core competencies refer to strategic strengths or what the organization does better than any other and what really cannot be outsourced. Individual competencies focus on the characteristics shared by successful—or even exemplary—performers.

It is possible to invent a competency model for the future to which nobody in the current organization fits. In fact, that is one way to start to make operational a strategic plan. If that is done, people can be assessed—using competency assessment centers or 360-degree competency assessment—for the competencies from the competency model that we believe will be needed in the organization if the strategic plan is to be realized.

A: 

Competencies are about the characteristics individuals possess and use in appropriate ways that help them get desired results in the context of a unique corporate cultural context. These characteristics include knowledge, skills, mind-sets, thought patterns, or social roles.

Increasingly, organizations are using competency models to get results. But they are supplementing that work with value systems or value models to build in the increasingly important domain of ethics and rules.

A: 

A competency cannot be measured by itself. To do that you must establish behavioral indicators, which can be as time-consuming and expensive as doing the competency study to begin with. We believe that behaviorally anchored rating scales and their cousins, behaviorally anchored observation scales and behaviorally anchored expectations scales, are the most rigorous ways to do that.

A: 

Yes. We call that competency-based human resource management. All facets of HR can be reinvented, and competencies, rather than "jobs" or "work activities," can be used as the foundation for an HR system.

Think of using competency-based HR as being like switching from a Windows-based to a UNIX-based computer. It simply runs the operating system on a different foundation.






Competency-Based Human Resource Management
Competency-Based Human Resource Management
ISBN: 0891061746
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 139
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