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2 Ways to Use Your Competency Model to Strengthen Your Talent Strategy

April 3, 2018


The value of being strategic is critical to strong talent management programs. Any organization looking to develop an effective talent strategy should first consider establishing a robust competency model to serve as the common thread for all talent management initiatives. As an assessment provider, we often work with clients to implement multi-level assessment (MLA) solutions. Competency models, when executed effectively, help obtain the alignment, sponsorship, and standardization needed for these programs to succeed. More times than not, these solutions can be used for a range of positions within an organization from entry level all the way to executive level. As one would expect, the skills, behaviors, traits, and competencies needed for success progress from one level to the next. Using competency models can bring many advantages to talent management and talent acquisition teams as well as an organization as a whole.

competency modeling In short, a competency model is a collection of competencies that jointly define successful job performance. The model provides a framework for defining the skill and knowledge requirements of a job or level(s). To draw out similarities and differences in the competencies and behaviors required for success throughout levels, Select International will often work with clients to create a competency model and/or competency dictionary. Through job analysis activities, (e.g., focus groups and competency surveys) examples of successful job performance, and ultimately critical behaviors for success, are collected. All in all, a good model will include the competencies, definitions, and behavior examples for each level in the model.

Are you thinking, “Nice! But, what the heck would we do with all that information?” Well, you aren’t alone! Many clients have a hard time prioritizing what to do with their new model and how it can best benefit their organization.

Here are two effective ways you can put a competency model to use:

  1. Selecting the Best Employees

    Given that competency models/dictionaries lay out the important competencies, definitions, and behaviors at all levels of an organization, they can be used to assess external candidates on the competencies identified as most critical for successful job performance. We have conducted extensive research on behavioral competencies important for success in many types of jobs at all levels and how to best assess them. Your organization’s model can be used to further customize selection assessments by level, including the competencies assessed and the scoring of the competencies to best fit the jobs in your organization.

    For example, if strategic thinking, managing change, and working collaboratively are three important and job-relevant competencies for managers within your organization, Select International can provide a selection process that accurately measures these competencies for manager candidates.

  2. Developing Current Staff

    The above can also be applied to current staff. Much like an external candidate, internal candidates can be put through a series of assessments to gauge strengths and developmental areas given the organization’s competency model and the level and proficiency of the specific competencies needed. Managers can hold feedback and coaching sessions to review the results with current employees and create an action plan for leveraging strengths and improving weaknesses. Group-level assessment results can also be shared to help particular groups/teams learn where they can improve and where they excel.

Related: Four Competencies to Focus on When Hiring or Promoting Leaders

Selection and development are only two very important areas of which your model can be leveraged (and two more reasons to brush the dust off your model). To learn more about other options, such as succession planning and talent audits, reach out to a Select International consultant.

4 Competencies to Focus on When Hiring or Promoting Leaders

Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Senior Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.