The Perils & Benefits of Competency Assessment
Monday, August 28, 2017 10:08:32 AM

One of the most significant hurdles in talent management is maintaining the overall competency of the workforce. The individuals who are highly skilled workers are available only at premium packages, and an even bigger problem is retaining talent in the existing workforce, which is, admittedly, a lot more difficult than it sounds, particularly when new opportunities continue to arise in every industry. There is a matter of having to constantly adapt to the idea that a workforce may now consist of workers from five different generations, and each generation with different needs and priorities. Finding common ground is often a matter of trial and error as every organization must ensure the harmonious functioning of their business. Efficiency alongside venture-wide talent strategies depend upon automation, and employee expectations to interact in a holistic work experience requires deep insight into pre- existing and requisite worker capability.

There are options to improve employee capabilities, including learning and development which is integral to having an effective workforce. These development solutions must perform certain core functions such as aligning the employee with organizational goals, host experience-building opportunities, be firmly aligned with business critical competencies, and display a specialization in the same. Competency assessment, therefore, is the pulse of performance improvement—at the individual and organizational levels.

Competency management is a vital part of business for around 40 years now.  It is indispensable to hiring, promotion, mobility, etc. and thus core to effective management of human capital. To this end, let us understand some of the concepts involved with competency assessment. Competencies refer to the abilities, knowledge, skillsets and behaviors that contribute towards making an employee one that is effective. Some common competencies are analytical thinking, communication, flexibility, integrity, and teamwork. A competency model is a group of core competencies, ideally seven to 10, carefully chosen in alignment with an organization’s business goals. A competency proficiency scale is a defined metric or measurement that assigns an expected degree of competence on a given competency. Leading practice scales have behavioral indicators as their building blocks with related behaviors organized under each competency. Competency management is the group of managing practices that identify and improve the skills and competencies required to deliver on an organization’s business strategy.

Here are some of the key challenges faced in competency management-

  1. Competency management appears is treated as a process of HR rather than a business imperative and this has greatly costed many organizations their overall performances and until competency management is revered as the business imperative it is, performance will continue to languish. Performance excellence means clear and precise communication of the core competencies for which an employee is accountable as critical role in various aspects of business must be better explained.
  2. Identifying critical competencies is often another difficult task. Business in the modern age is subject to constant shifts in the workforce alongside changing administrative and infrastructural conditions. Without an assessment strategy and the ability to predict the skills needed by the business going forward, organizations are left clueless as to what skills exist and are needed.
  3. Many competency assessments often forget to consider the misalignment that many of these assessment have when compared to an organization’s actual business goals. Organizations have only partially effective, or ineffective, identified critical talent segments and key job roles.
  4. There is no significant investment by parent organizations to develop their infrastructure for competency related activities.

That being said there are several benefits for having a clear emphasis on competency assessment. Automated competency management creates a real-time and predictive inventory of the capability of any workforce. Here are some of the benefits of performance development oriented organizations-

  1. Enriched comprehension of expectations and performance is path to unlocking the first steps in performance improvement. Organizations that take the time and effort to create a list of competencies and requisite proficiency level for each competency, by job role, essential for the achievement of business goals, have made the first step toward providing employees and leaders the best chance at performance excellence.
  2. There are greater talent planning opportunities and scope. With competency assessments, team leaders stay informed about current and past performance metrics that allow them to make crucial decisions about responsibility distribution and workload.
  3. Formal training does not necessarily provide employees with the appropriate skills to grow into and advance in the workplace. Success often relies almost entirely on the capabilities of the workforce. Leaders use assessments to optimize development and maintain a dynamic strategy. This Competency-based assessment is made around the competency standards that have been identified for a specific position in an organization.
  4. It allows the creation of a more established talent pipeline. Competency checks allow us to reliably check the competency mastery of workers and employers and readiness to move into next-level or other critical roles.
  5. It greatly facilitates a hands-on learning experience and knowledge, eliminates unnecessary training or programs, highlights strengths and progression paths. This significant improvement in operational efficiency is brought about if competency assessment is given its proper due.