Archive for the ‘Competencies’ Category

Competencies seem to be one of the central things in Talent Management. Everyone wants them, needs them, but few master them well.


A common mistake is to be so ambitious that you never reach any goal. You end up with half a competency catalogue, some requirements profiles and a bunch of disappointed employees. 


Start small, and build it step by step. Think agile. 


1. Identify company core competencies. And those are not 200, it’s probably less than 10. Keep it simple. Less is more.

2. Let everyone map against that. Now you have a basis for first round of self analysis, and development. 

3. Look into some important roles. The ones you have a gut feeling are the ones needs attention. Specialists, management. Identify the core competencies for these roles. Not the nice to haves but the required, maximum 12 per role. 

4. Let people in these roles do competency assessments, plan development. Be transparent so people in other roles see what is happening. Keeps moral up and also shows expectations.

5. Roll it out on more and more roles. Do continuous assessments and development planning. All out in the open. People whose roles are not fine will see it done. 

6. Do NOT forget development for those in roles not done yet. 

7. When you have identified a number of roles start mapping career paths. That makes it possible for more and more employees to participate. Maybe their role is not done yet, but their possible future one is?


Just keep it going and cover more and more of your organisation. Make it step by step and make every step be a goal that gives value back. That way you won’t end up not getting there. And by being transparent people will see it happening and be able to participate. 


And that builds engagement. 

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When I started this blog I was mostly after a way of writing down thoughts I had about Talent Management (TM) without promoting my own company (that is what we have the company blog for:-) ). Since then I have realized that even if I have been living with TM-suites for 15 years not many else have, hence my series about parts of the integrators in Talent Management.



  1. Development integrated, part 1
  2. Development integrated, part 2
  3. Development integrated, part 3
  4. Development integrated, part 4

I kind of hoped for a debate in the commentaries, but building a following like the big bloggers takes time and I don’t have the time to spend that I think is needed on twitter for that.

So I continue write my ideas in the hope that they will be of value to someone. And even if they are not it’s a good way of thinking things through and shed light on areas from different angles, and that’s always good for at least me, so that’s another reason I blog today. I do it for me.

If anyone find it helpful, all the better.

Enjoy the summer

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In part 1 we tried to look at a definition of competencies and what different types there might be.

In part 2 we had a look at the more ordinary uses of competencies in classic Talent Management

Now its time to go into recruitment territory

Recruitment ( I will use the term Recruitment instead of the word Talent Acquisition as its so hard to spell:-) ) is today an integrated part of talent management. That a candidate becomes an employee and keeps its data is one thing. But why not start earlier in the process?

When we edit the text for the job advertisement why not get help based on the requirements for the job

When the candidate fill in the application form. Parts of it should be position specific. Why not use competencies tied to the job?

When the recruiter is doing the interview. Why not assist by providing questions based upon the desired competencies?

If you use pre-hire and/or post-hire assessment. Spice it up by use your competency requirements.

So as you see. Competencies can be used early in the process. We just need to add more data to the definition of a competency


  • Texts for Ads
  • Interview questions
  • Application form questions (but also use the competencies directly)

Integrate with Assessment providers and you will get a much needed integrated process for getting your talent into your organisation.


In this short competency walk through we have seen that competencies are at the very heart of any Talent Management effort. If you get them right, and continue by defining your requirements profiles you will get so much of the rest for “free”. In order to get the competencies you can either in workshops define your competencies or buy a set of already defined. Its up to you, in one case you will  get a competency catalog that is tailored to you and in the other hand you will get a industry wide best practice set of competencies that might be good enough. After have seen both approaches I would opt for getting a catalog and then do changes to it. If you define it by yourself you just might take on a to big job that might end with a failed Talent Management effort.

But before you get your competencies, define what you wanna use them for and make sure they provide you with the data you need to use them for training, recruitment and gap analysis. Make sure you have one competency catalog to use and not one for training, another for performance and a third for recruitment. There may be forces that would say that you should have a best practice catalog for each case, but where is the synergy? If you use the same you can use them from hire to fire.

That was the last post in our mini series about competencies.

Good luck with your competencies.

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In part 1 we tried to look at a definition of competencies and what different types there might be.

Now we should look into where can we use these competencies in a Talent Management environment

If we start by saying that any job can be described in competencies, a combination of:
•    Desired knowledge
•    Desired behavior
•    Desired certificates

we are not so far from the truth. As we have already established that we see these 3 as just different aspects of the same thing we are in luck. We might use our competency framework to describe the job, and therefore the position, requirements.

We are here assuming we will use competencies for defining positions not formal training or education which might be another option, but as competencies describes what you know and can use we prefer that before a list of classes you attended.

Once we have that we can assess our employees (that assessment might be done by employee, manager or a combination, also using 360 assessments) on all types of competencies, and produce a gap analysis.

Competency process

Based upon that Gap Analysis we can then try to better our employee. In order to do that we create development activities, and connect them to an identified competency gap.

The development activity might be something we used before, so we go to our activity catalog and search on our competency gap to find activities that we have used before to close that particular gap.
As we might not find one there we also search in our training catalog, and based upon our competency gap we get some suggestion on training we might use.
The employee might also be considered as a successor to another job or position. Same thing applies here. We do gap analysis, identify activities and training, all based upon the competencies.
The employee might do it all by herself in the career planning to get a feeling for how long way it would be to get to the dream job.

Once when the development activities are done we do a new assessment to see if the gaps are now filled.
In next part we will look at how we can add more data to our competencies to actually use them in our Talent Acquisition process

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After my series on development, where we touched competencies, I think its time to dive deeper into the world of competencies.

Lets start by looking into what competencies are.

If we go to the wiki we find

Some scholars see “competence” as a combination of knowledge, skills and behavior used to improve performance; or as the state or quality of being adequately or well qualified, having the ability to perform a specific role.

So the definition would be “A competency is the knowledge, ability and willingness to perform a task“. That would mean that its not just knowledge, its the ability to use the knowledge and even the willingness to use it. To be able to do something but not do it is of no use.

In Talent Management we also have other things thar are related to it, and often used in similar ways. So I will throw in

  1. Behavioural skills. Not only knowledge but ability and willingness to show certain behaviour
  2. Social competencies, partly overlapping with the Behavioural skills, but I mention them here as the term is used a lot.
  3. Certificates, the more hard facts of competencies. Not assessed but set down by rules.

Which means we might have 3 “different” things that could all be considered competencies. Some of them can be assessed by the employee, some of them are more tied to predefined rules and other are more assessed by others.

The crucial thing in silo free talent management is that they are not kept apart. They are just different sides of the same coin.

In next post we will explore where we might used these competencies.



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We have come to the 3rd part about the development activities and why and how they should be integrated to other Talent Management processes.

Initial overview of the Development landscape you will find in part1.

In part 2 we explored the requirements on our system by different types of activities.

Now its time to go into competencies, the other big integration point, and see how we can get a maximum efficiency out of our processes if we have them integrated in a good way.

We have shown that regardless of type of activity we often end up with a common set of requirements. We also end up with a number of integration points in our system. But what about competencies? If we integrated them too we might end up in Talent Management heaven. (just might mind you)

Imagine the following scenario

We have an open position we need to fill. What we start with is to look at the competency requirements on the team that this position is part of, have a look at the other team members competency profiles and produce a gap analysis. With that one we know what we need to fill the position with, in matter of competencies at least.

We then do an internal search with that competency gap analysis as a basis (and we also use career plans preferred jobs, mobility and relocation info as input as well as any succession data we might have in the system). We dont find anyone this time, so we go to next step

With our gap analysis, and our competency requirement profile on the position and job we head over to create a requisition for our recruitment sub process. As we know what the job profile looks like and we also know what is the most important parts (our gap analysis) our system helps us in creating a job advert and also attach screening questions to our application form that are relevant for what we need.

Later we have a good candidate that meet our criteria and its time for the interview. Our helpful system provides us with some interview questions based on the job, position and our earlier gap analysis. It also lists a range of activities that this particular candidate would need to go through before entirely be up to speed. We now have the information about how long time that might take, and the cost.

We hire the candidate and in the OnBoarding we have a list of development activities for the new employee. The list is produced based on the gap analysis and position requirements and the answers our candidate gave during the application process. From that the sytem did a candidate gap analysis, went into its list of development activities and pulled out a best set for this employee. All you have to do is approve them.

The employee goes through OnBoarding and the development activities. Some of them end up as a record in the employee profile, some of them prompts an addition to the competency profile for the employee.

After a couple of years the team is overstaffed and you need to downsize. The analytics in the system gives you the different scenarios on what competencies you need and how to get a best match with the available team. As always you will end up with a shortage somewhere so the system can not only give you the best scenario, it also produced the list of development activities with time frame and cost you need to plan.

Convinced you need a good integrated system?

In next part we will summarize it all in bullet points to get a list of integration points and data you need to support it. But now lets head home for Christmas and we will get back to development and conclude these posts after Christmas.

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