From the suggestions we received, I have decided to start the discussion with the topic on competencies and competency models. The question had four main aspects:
- Should an organization create their own or buy an off-the-shelf model?
- How do you evaluate the efficacy of a model or vendor?
- Comparison of competency models
- Who are reputable vendors?
While I will be sharing my opinion and insight into the topic, I also ask the others please share theirs. Individual experiences will help us all learn more to help our own organizations be more successful.
I have been dealing with competency models since 1987. In this post I will do my best to answer question 1 above. I have had a tremendous hesitance to using generic models because pride of authorship is, in my opinion, one of the keys to having employees embrace the competencies. Regardless of the area of talent management to which you want to apply competencies, employees have to broadly accept them as accurate / meaningful to their role if they are to be used appropriately.
As well, generic models will have 80% fit with an organization or role, and that might even be increased by some customization. However, any gaps between the competency model and your organization’s culture or strategy will cause misalignment between your employees and the goals of your company. It can also cause confusion for employees who see a behaviour among the competencies that wouldn’t have been included had the behaviours been written by those who know the role best.
The willingness to purchase off-the-shelf competencies in order to save a few dollars is a concept that I find a little baffling sometimes. Organizations like to state that their competitive advantage is their people. Or they brag their people are what makes the difference between them and their competitors. If that is true then why would you buy competencies that your competitors can also buy? Why would you want competencies based on a consultant’s research over utilizing the knowledge from years of experience from those who are already successful in your organization? You wouldn’t buy off-the-shelf marketing, then why would you buy generic competency models? It may save you a few dollars in the short run, but a single wrong hire based on an ineffective competency model can cost more than the difference between a generic model and a model customized to the culture and strategy of your organization.
Because behaviours often truly are the difference between success and failure within an organization, investing in the right model is an important foundation toward truly achieving your strategic goals through your people.