A Case for Competency Modeling, Part 1: The Client

Brighter Strategies’s approach to competency modeling can be applied to any nonprofit organization or job family—that’s the beauty of it. It is specific and action-oriented, yet fully scalable for all employee groups, a variety of industries, and your unique organizational culture.

The next several blog articles will apply this approach to a fictional nonprofit, which we will call Acme Incorporated (Acme for short). As we unpack competency modeling in a real-world setting, please feel free to post questions or feedback in the comment section below the articles, to help spur discussion among readers about the practical application of this process.

Who: Acme Inc.

Acme consists of four levels of staffing: senior leaders, functional leaders, frontline managers, and frontline employees. These levels are labeled as follows:

  • Senior leaders and executives: Strategic Visionaries
  • Functional and emerging leaders: Subject Matter Experts
  • Frontline managers: Tactical Implementers
  • Frontline employees: Non-Supervisory Staff

Why: The Intended Outcome

Before beginning any competency modeling process, Brighter Strategies first identifies the desired end result(s) for each organization. In other words, why are we doing this in first place? Many companies focus on the symptoms of their problem, rather than the root problem itself. They observe high attrition, for example, and believe it’s a result of employee dissatisfaction when perhaps it’s truly the symptom of a lack of communication from senior leadership about vision—resulting in a low level of employee engagement around organizational strategy.

In Acme’s case, the nonprofit initially called on Brighter Strategies to revamp its performance management system for each of the staffing levels identified above. In most instances, organizations start with the appraisal system, not realizing that a clearly defined competency model is the first step toward a performance solution—and also the root problem.

Brighter Strategies reviewed Acme’s performance evaluation system and realized it was too general—and ineffective—because the system wasn’t evaluating people based on their skills or competencies. Brighter Strategies and Acme agreed on the following objectives:

  • Identify competencies for each of the four levels of staff.
  • Determine what kind of person is needed for each job (for hiring) and what is required for someone to be developed and promoted from one level to the next (for promotion).
  • Determine the training and development solutions that will help to move staff from one level of competencies to the next.

 

The next blog article will detail Acme’s journey toward these intended outcomes. Stay tuned!

 

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