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Using Competency Management to Track Behavioral Change

While competency management certainly isn’t a new topic for HR professionals—researchers say that a form of competency management existed in early Roman days in an attempt to identify good soldiers—its presence in the HR world is more important than ever as teams try to attract and retain talent in an increasingly competitive workforce.
 
According to researchers from the National Technical University of Athens, HR competency management programs began to gain steam in the business world in the 1970s when corporations determined that testing simply for intelligence did not seem to correlate with job performance. Since then, organizations have been using it to help empower their workforce to increase things like competitive advantage, innovation and effectiveness.
 
In today’s workforce, competency management is an approach to employee evaluation that provides HR teams with a clear idea of what their organization should look like—or strive toward. This is especially important when working to retain talent, as competency management helps HR teams come up with a fair and optimized way of evaluating employees. Ultimately, competency management is a key component to empowering an organization’s people, who will drive an organization forward.

Building Competency Management From Business Goals

At its core, HR competency management is a method of systematically ensuring that an organization has all of the skills and talent needed to achieve its business goals. This requires a competency framework for each individual position in the organization. To put one in place, HR teams can start by identifying what behaviors and abilities from employees will achieve the following:
 
  • Represent the company well
  • Help the company be successful
  • Make the company competitive
  • Reach the company’s short- and long-term goals
 
Once you’ve determined each position’s competencies, HR teams should assign levels for each behavior such as basic knowledge, novice, intermediate, advanced and expert—and know exactly what that looks like at each step.
 
The key is to have both the competencies and the levels properly identified so that HR and department managers can accurately assess each employee. Having a defined list of desirable behaviors and skills gives HR teams a concrete way to track and measure behavioral change, which is especially important when it’s time for evaluations.

Competency Management Benefits the Company, Too

Competency management programs not only provide a systematic approach to categorizing and tracking individual positions within a company, but also have tremendous benefits for organizational culture and talent management.
 
Defining competencies for both individual positions and for an organization as a whole naturally lends itself to a strong corporate culture and higher achieving employees. According to a piece in the Harvard Business Review, an organization’s approach to employee achievement are one of the most important six components in creating a positive corporate culture, specifying that, “...whatever an organization’s values, they must be reinforced in review criteria and promotion policies, and baked into the operating principles of daily life in the firm.”
 
Competency management is also a perfect solution for holding onto your most talented employees through employee development and learning opportunities. It’s not likely that a manager will hear an employee say, “I want to do the same thing every day and never learn anything new.” In fact, it’s according to a 2018 Korn Ferry poll of 5,000 workers, 33% said the reason why they were looking for a new job was because they were bored and needed a new challenge. Through competency management, reengaging and retaining these workers become easier.

How to Use the Data

One of the biggest benefits of competency management programs is that they give HR teams the ability to assess employees objectively. Defining the competencies for a position and assigning levels to each one makes it easier to track behaviors and chart improvements. But in order for competency management to be as effective as possible—and to actually see behavioral change in employees over time—data collection is of the utmost importance.
 
One of the best ways to track employee progress is through the implementation of a Learning Management System (LMS), which HR teams can not only use to train employees to close skill gaps in their positions, but also to engage, ensure compliance and look at data and trends at the individual and the organizational level.
 
By introducing an LMS to your organization and having employees complete self-paced eLearning courses, HR teams can evaluate individual-level data like completion rates of courses, assessment scores, ability to learn and perform a new task and even learner satisfaction through the use of polls and questionnaires. Zooming out, HR teams can also use an LMS to examine big data trends for the entire company, such as competency in certain learning topics.
 
With the use of an LMS, data will easily become available to HR teams in the form of charts, graphs and summaries that will help them better understand where their employees are at in their competency levels and how their behavior has changed over time since they started in their position. Having this data will be invaluable to teams so they can see where the gaps are, whether an individual needs to be promoted, and how to have a happier and more productive workforce.
 
Looking for a better way to manage the evaluate employees and keep them happy? Learn more about Cornerstone’s suite of tools here.