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3 Advantages to Using Competency Models in Talent Management

May 26, 2015

There are several benefits to building competency models in talent management. More than ever before, HR Leaders understand the value of being strategic when implementing talent management programs within their organizations. They are looking at talent management more holistically and considering how various talent management functions such as recruiting & staffing, assessment & selection, performance management, and succession planning, can be connected and more effectively managed as one end-to-end process.

With any attempt at implementing a strong end-to-end Talent Management program, HR Leaders should consider starting with building a competency model. This is because a competency model can serve as the key connecting point between the different talent management functions by defining the standards for success within each of them. Summarized below are three specific advantages that effective competency models provide to talent management programs, particularly when they are developed before the programs are implemented:

Advantage #1: Organization-Wide Alignment on Success Criteria

Competency models are essentially a framework for defining what success looks like across all roles and functions in the organization. If executed well, competency models provide a common language for selecting employees, developing them, managing their performance, and helping them better understand their roles in driving the success for the organization. They can even help shape an organization’s culture and provide a road map for how to meet key strategic objectives. Competency models can also prevent “rogue” competencies from being developed without proper vetting or the approval from experts. In other words, more employees will draw from the organization’s approved competencies to obtain benchmark definitions for success in their area rather than create their own. In short, a good competency model aligns all employees on the success standards to which they, their departments, and the organization should be held accountable.

Advantage #2: Program Sponsorship

One of the most common derailers to any program implementation is not having the sponsorship from key organizational leaders and other stakeholders. When designing a performance management system, or a succession planning program, for example, it can be very challenging to get leaders to simply agree on the target capabilities on which the programs should focus. However, with a competency model already in place, there is much less room for debate on the target capabilities. With this alignment on the program content, the discussion can move to process issues much more quickly, thereby making it much easier to gain the traction and support needed to move talent management programs forward.

Advantage #3: Standardization of Content Across Programs

Even when organizations attempt to take an integrated approach in designing such programs as assessment initiatives, performance management systems, development and succession planning programs, and training curriculums, they are often created by different teams with expertise in different areas. If these teams don’t have a common competency model around which to design their programs, chances are it will appear these programs were designed in isolation, with multiple labels for the same concepts, and often lack of alignment on the target capabilities. In contrast, leveraging a single competency model to frame the design of all these programs will drive consistency and standardization, making it much easier to see how each piece fits into the overall talent strategy of the organization.

To summarize, any organization looking to develop an effective end-to-end talent management program should first consider establishing a robust competency model that would serve as the common thread for all talent management initiatives. These can include assessment & selection processes, new employee onboarding programs, performance management systems, employee development plans, and succession planning programs. Competency models, when executed effectively, help obtain the alignment, sponsorship, and standardization needed for these programs to succeed.

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John Fernandez, Ph.D. John Fernandez, Ph.D. was a Senior Consultant at PSI and lead the implementation of assessment programs for both selection and development. John has extensive experience working as an internal expert within HR for large companies to deliver large scale, global assessment solutions. John’s areas of expertise include project management, job analysis, assessment design & validation, and presentation of assessment results to sponsors.