Seven Strategies to Embed a Competency Approach in Your Organization Successfully

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The ultimate goal of a competency project is to design and deliver a targeted learning and development plan that will lead to a fully competent workforce. IHRDC has learned many lessons around what works and what does not in the development and implementation of competency management and assurance systems. Below are some of the steps our clients are taking to ensure that competency management and assurance is built into a company’s core processes for the long term and not just a one-time project.

  1. Do Not Stop After the Project

A client carried out a multi-year project to fully assess its staff. The work was completed, and a full skills gaps map was produced. But at the time the consultants completed their project, the HR team changed. By the time a new HR team was ready to tackle competency work, the assessments were a year out of date, and the project lost credibility. Our recommendation was that the team needed to restart the effort on a small scale: identify from the previous assessments one or two skills gaps to be filled, build suitable learning plans, and move forward step-by-step.

2. Create Small Models

The larger a competency model, the more of a commitment you are placing on the employees and supervisors. By keeping models short (say 20 to 30 competencies), you reduce the time of assessment and ensure that the most critical job functions are being addressed. You can always add additional competencies in later years.

3. Run Your Assessments in Small Batches

Often it can be more than six months between the employee’s self-assessment and the completion of the project with the development of learning plans.

For projects with large numbers of staff to be assessed it is often better to batch the assessment process so that each week a small group of staff complete the full assessment process and are provided their individual learning plans. This approach can ensure the staff receives early feedback from their assessment efforts and feel that the process delivered tangible results.

4. Q&A Can Have a Place

An objective, knowledge test that is embedded in the competency assessment process can allow clients to remove the potential for conflict between employees and supervisors – if they disagree on the employee’s level of competence, the knowledge test can help resolve differences without bias. It is important, however, to use the test approach with caution – as it can affect the reputation of the overall competency management process by making it more of a “test” and less of a skills assessment.

5. Competency and Regulatory Reports

In order to demonstrate its achievement of compliance requirements, a client set up its systems to import the ‘Persons on Board’ or shift-based data into its competency system so that it could produce regulatory reports on the levels of competency and compliance of all staff on shift at any time. Our client, by using this single report providing all competency and compliance data for current and future shits, was able to meet their government compliance requirements and receive its permit to operate.

6. Video Evidence

A client was already using our competency management system but wanted to move more toward an assurance approach. We built in the capability to upload performance evidence against any competency.

This approach supports the use of a tablet computer to take a video of the employee carrying out a task and immediately uploading it into the system linked to the appropriate competency.

7. Link to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Many of our clients find that the competency features of ERP are not sufficiently robust for the oil and gas industry.  Creating an interface from the ERP to the Competency Management System (CMS) allows the client to maintain the integrity of their IT data strategy while harnessing the power and features of a specialized CMS.

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