Using Competencies for Accurate Learning Needs Analysis

How do you go about accurately identifying the learning needs of your employees or indeed of the whole organization?

Many years ago, I was employed as a Learning and Development manager at Microsoft and this was a challenge which we faced then (and ultimately succeeded in answering), and I suspect is one that many L & D departments are still challenged with today.

For many organizations it works like this, once a year, at some point prior to preparing the L & D budget, a catalogue of learning solutions (courses, workshops, simulations, eLearning etc.) titles is distributed and managers and/or employees will have the option of selecting which ones are required and how many are required in the case of departmental managers. Five of these, six of those etc. a Learning & Development ‘takeaway’ menu if you like. The catalogue is often based on last year’s version or possibly what the organization’s training vendors are keen to offer. Hopefully there will also be some input from technical specialists within the organization and others who have a strategic view of what the business really needs.

Isn’t there a more accurate and objective way of identifying your organization’s learning needs and at the same time supporting the needs of the individual? Yes, there is and we can apply some science to the task.

The answer is to help the business take more responsibility for identifying their learning requirements. How can this be done successfully?

  1. Help the organization to articulate the skills and competencies required of each employee in the job they are doing, and to the level required so that they can be successful in their job, otherwise known as job (competency) profiles;
  2. Ask each employee to carry out a voluntary competency audit, indicating their level of proficiency for their job-related competency requirements;
  3. Identify the individual’s job-related competency gaps;
  4. Pinpoint the individual’s learning requirements based on their competency gaps and develop their learning plan;
  5. Aggregate everyone’s learning plans to determine team, country, regional and organizational requirements.

By ensuring that the job competency profiles are in line with business requirements, the gaps will indicate which competencies require development to support business needs rather than any other agenda.

In addition to job-related learning, this approach also supports employee and manager career development discussions by making clear to both which competencies need to be developed for the individual to take the next step on their career ladder.

What happens if the organization doesn’t have a learning solution in place to address a competency gap? This approach then provides a clear view of which learning solutions need to be developed or procured. Rather than taking a speculative approach to developing, procuring and delivering learning solutions, a competency-based approach enables Learning and Development functions to make the best use of their hard-earned budget.

Where do I go from here?
To find out more about Lexonis competency solutions – our frameworks and software, request a demo and don’t forget to register for our webinar on Thursday 27th April ‘5 Ways to Maximize the Impact of Your Learning and Development Programs’.
Register here →

Using Competencies to Drive Employee Engagement

We recently delivered a webinar on the subject ‘Using Competencies to Drive Employee Engagement’. If you didn’t manage to attend, please find a recording of the webinar here.

In our webinar, we discussed the relationship between employer, employee, and the organisation, and the need to create an environment in which employees wake up, and are excited to go to work each day. We believe that competencies can play a key part in developing a culture of engagement within organisations. To summarise, below are some of the main competency-based engagement drivers that we discuss with our clients:


Developing an engaged workforce can begin through the recruitment process!

Competency-based interviewing techniques, and competency-defined job roles can help seek out employees whose behaviours, attributes, and career goals are clearly in line with the organisation’s engagement culture.

Particularly when recruiting managers, using competency definitions can help to define and identify candidates whose behaviours that are conducive to nurturing a culture of employee engagement. Skills can be developed, recruit for behavioural traits which are far harder to learn.

Learning and Development

Good communication, is key to employee engagement. Clearly identifying which competencies are required for an employee to be successful in their role can inform open dialogue between a manager and employee regarding the employee’s learning and development and training to prosper in the role.

Career Planning

Providing a clear and visible career path enables employees to see their opportunities for growth and development in the organisation. No more feeling like they are stuck in a dead end job! Career paths developed with competencies in mind, help employees to see their own potential for growth, either vertically (within their job family), or horizontally (across their job band) – a great talking point for employee and managers during the development discussion.

Performance Management

We’ll say it again – good communication is crucial for helping employees feel engaged. A clear understanding of what “good performance looks like”, through the definition of successful behaviours, further aids dialogue between employer and employee, and contributes greatly at performance appraisal time.

Where Do I go From Here?

To find out more about Lexonis competency solutions – our frameworks and software, request a demo and don’t forget to download our webinar recording ‘Using Competencies to Drive Employee Engagement’!

ISO 27001: Trust or Confidence?

In my previous blog post, Protecting Your Data with ISO-27001, I wrote about what ISO 27001 Certification was, how it worked, and how this helped Lexonis to build a robust approach to information security as an online competency management software provider. In this post I want to take a different approach, and to write about how Lexonis' ISO 27001 Certification impacts our relations with our clients, both current and prospective.

Client relationships, of course, come in all shapes and sizes, but at their core there is always the expectation by each party that the other will deliver on their commitments, and these can be characterised under two related measures: confidence and trust. Confidence represents an impersonal judgement, informed by business, regulatory and social context, but also by brand, image and impartial testimony, made by each party that that the other will meet its obligations. Trust, meanwhile, represents the interpersonal rapport which is formed by representatives of the two parties and acts as a mutual guarantee that each is working in good faith towards their responsibilities. Generally speaking, confidence is more readily generated by larger organisations, and trust is more productively generated by smaller ones.

What implications then, does ISO 27001 Certification have on the relationships we have with the clients for whom we provide our competency management solutions?

At first glance one might expect its main role to act as a confidence-booster for our clients. At its core ISO 27001 Certification is an impartial verification that Lexonis has instituted an information security management system to an industry 'gold standard'. The heart of ISO 27001 is that it provides an objective benchmark to work towards, and requires that organisations prove to regulated external auditors that those benchmarks have been met. Simply by holding the certificate our clients have good, independent reasons to believe that Lexonis is taking their data security seriously. Indeed, building this confidence is part of the point of seeking certification.

It is not however the whole of the story. One major advantage of seeking, and acquiring, ISO 27001 Certification as a small organisation is that it can act as a jumping-off point for deeper discussions with clients about the security of their data. By grounding our approach to information security in a public standard, we create a framework for really discussing it with clients. Part of the point of working towards ISO 27001 Certification has been to create an arena for greater engagement with our clients, to create more opportunities to build trust between us.

Ultimately, the main reason for Lexonis to acquire ISO 27001 Certification is to improve our management of information security, but just as the management system we have put in place extends through all layers of the business, so too do the implications, the opportunities and the consequences of that certification extend through it.

We trust that it will improve your confidence in us as well as in our competency management solutions, and we are confident that it creates the space for us to earn more of your trust.

What Employee Engagement Means to Me

There’s a lot being said and being written about employee engagement and it’s a subject that has been trending on HR forums for quite a while now. It has caused me to review my understanding of what people really mean when they use this term and how it relates to the world of competencies that are central to the work that we do here at Lexonis.

Employee engagement is often spoken of as the connection that an employee feels towards their employer and organization; the feelings that they have which cause them to get up and really want to go to work for their employer and more than that, to go beyond the call of duty when they get to work. Engaged employees are said to be committed, motivated and loyal, real assets to the organization!

To really help me to get to grips with what employee engagement means to me, I thought I would relate it to my real-world experience, in other words, what has caused me to feel totally engaged, committed and motivated to perform for organizations that I have worked for?

The factors that I have listed below are not exhaustive and clearly there may be some that are personal to me, but perhaps at least some of them will resonate with you:

  1. I enjoy having the opportunity to improve myself, to learn and grow both professionally and as a person. I have appreciated employers who have given me the opportunity to do that, whether formal or not.
  2. I work better when I feel inspired by my managers and leaders, when I have time to spend with them, to listen and be heard, and to learn from them. I want to be successful so that they will feel the same about working with me.
  3. I feel good about working for an organization that is well thought of; I feel a sense of pride about working for and being associated with such an organization. For instance, I loved working for a time at Microsoft because of the recognition that the company received and the great products it was known to develop.
  4. I like working in a great environment, not just the physical facilities but also a collaborative culture, where we are all part of the team and we are working towards something bigger than ourselves.
  5. I feel good when I know that my employer has a genuine interest in my health and wellbeing, I am not just ‘a number’.

So what has this all got to do with competencies, you may ask? Here’s just a start…

  • How do you know how to develop people unless you understand the competencies that they need to be successful in their jobs?
  • How can you help people chart their career development without articulating the skills and competencies that they need to develop in order to take the next step on their career ladder?
  • How do you develop great products without hiring people with competencies such as ‘Initiative’, ‘Attention to Detail’ and ‘Problem Solving’ to innovate them?
  • How can you recruit and promote inspirational leaders unless you define and evidence the behavioral competencies that you are looking for in them?
  • How do you develop a collaborative culture without understanding the behaviors that contribute to such an environment?

I could go on, but you get the picture…if you would like to find out more regarding how competencies can drive employee engagement register for the Lexonis webinar on Tuesday 21st February, 2017 using this link:

Career Development, Internal Mobility and Competencies

Business leaders often tell us that employees are their organisation’s most valuable asset. No one wants to suddenly hear that one of their star talents is leaving, plunging that part of the business into an operational crisis and what could be a costly recruitment process.

Lack of career development opportunities is one of the top listed reasons why an employee will look for a new employer. Clearly, it’s never been more important to create a culture that allows for career development and internal mobility within the organisation.

Here are some points that if put into practice, go a long way to supporting internal mobility and career development within the organisation:

  1. Develop career streams. It’s important to develop career streams – clearly articulated paths or ladders for career development – so that employees can see what their potential for growth is within the organisation. Make it easy for employees to seek development within the organisation rather than looking elsewhere.
  2. Trial employees in new roles. More companies are employing training schemes that allow employees in one department to apply to train in another department. Essentially, a form of employee work experience, providing them the opportunity to develop skills whilst determining if a new role is right for them.
  3. Re-train rather than buy talent. Rather than immediately going for the recruitment option, try to gauge the skills that your workforce already has and assess whether with some suitable learning interventions employees would be more effective and happier in a role that better suits their talents.

Our experience has been that using the above approaches help clients to greatly lower employee turnover and retain their best performers. This in turn helps the organisation to maintain operational stability and meet its business objectives. The point is, make mobility part of your culture.

At Lexonis, we understand the importance of internal mobility and career development for your organisation. Our competency frameworks and software are geared towards ensuring that your employees have and can clearly see their opportunities for career development; In addition, we help our clients to identify the people who can help drive their organisation towards meeting their business objectives.

7 Ways Competencies Can Help You Recruit Effectively

Successful employers recognise the need to recruit employees that are not only productive but also fit the company culture and can contribute to a cohesive team. There is a cost associated with making the wrong choice. Hiring an unsuitable candidate is a burden no employer wants, with the financial cost, time wasted, drop in morale, and the organisation’s reputation involved.

Using competence-based recruitment

Can competencies really help with recruitment? With 30 combined years’ experience with competencies, Lexonis have long advocated the need for a holistic approach to hiring. Many companies value technical skills, yet often neglect the behavioural competencies demonstrated by outstanding performers. Think about this, technical skills can be taught, whereas the tendencies, attitudes, and actions encapsulated in behavioural competencies are far harder to develop!

With the above in mind, here are 7 practical ways in which competencies can help you increase your chances of identifying the ideal employee and keeping them:

  1. Do you really need to hire an external candidate? Or do you already have unidentified or misplaced talent within your organisation? Is it cheaper to develop someone opposed to hiring someone new? Competencies can help you determine the most cost-effective option by clearly identifying the talent that you already have or can develop within the organisation.
  2. How do you know what a ‘good’ employee actually looks like? Competencies can help you to articulate what the ideal employee competencies are: by determining specific competencies that are relevant to their particular role; by using common competency definitions so that all in the hiring department are on the same page.
  3. Will they fit into your company culture? As mentioned above, it’s pretty important for employers that those coming into the organisation fit the organisational culture. Using a competency framework makes it easier to identify which behavioural competencies are necessary to ensure a new employee is a good fit for your company.
  4. How much should you be paying a new employee? By developing a common definition of competencies and generic levels that indicate degrees of responsibility, competencies provide an excellent platform for developing a fair and consistent job/salary grading structure.
  5. Tired of ambiguous job descriptions? In a rapidly changing work place, it’s critical to have clear and precise job descriptions, with specific competencies and proficiency levels that relate to the job.
  6. Stuck between two or more candidates? Use competency-based interviewing techniques to evidence which candidate demonstrates the behaviours that you are seeking to recruit.
  7. What about retaining your great hire? The value of competencies doesn’t stop at recruitment and when the employment contract has been signed. Implementing a competency framework allows your organisation to establish a clear career progression for your new employee and to provide training with their next job role in mind.

What Next?

This list is not all-inclusive, but these are some key areas in which competencies can assist your recruitment process and improve retention.

Looking for more?

Why not contact us for a free demonstration of our competency frameworks, job profiles and interview guides, and see for yourself how a competency-based approach can help you find your next successful employee.

Protecting Your Data with ISO 27001

Organisations today operate in an increasingly high threat environment. We hear of major corporations being hacked, leaked data, and their services, infrastructure and domains taken offline against their will. Smaller organisations suffer the same – anonymity is no longer a guarantee of safety (if it ever was).

As providers of competency management software, Lexonis takes this threat seriously. Keeping our clients’ data safe is our priority. It is against this background that we have decided to pursue ISO 27001 Certification.

In a nutshell, ISO 27001 specifies a set of internationally agreed standards for implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) for an organisation. ISO 27001 Certification, meanwhile, simply means that Lexonis is not only committed to implementing an ISMS to the ISO standard, but also to being independently audited to prove that we meet it.

How does this help Lexonis to operate in this high threat environment?

Structure: ISO 27001 provides a robust, standardised methodology for approaching information security. Not only does ISO 27001 provide organisations with a basic list of security controls to consider, but it also includes processes for identifying, assessing and implementing new security controls, ensuring that consistent and flexible coverage of threats is maintained. Moreover, this standardisation means that different organisations’ ISMS’s are inter-comprehensible and even, to some extent, inter-operable.

Risk: Core to the ISO 27001 standard is its risk-based approach to information security. If the standardised structure of the system promotes consistent coverage of threats, the risk assessment and subsequent risk treatment plan mandated by ISO 27001 ensures that Lexonis’ ISMS addresses information security flexibly and effectively. High risk threats are prioritised in terms of resources and controls, whilst low risk threats are monitored and re-evaluated as circumstances change.

Continuous Improvement: Woven throughout an ISO 27001 ISMS is the requirement to continuously improve the system. Mechanisms must be put in place to undertake effective corrective and preventative measures, and internal and external audits not only scrutinise the ISMS’ processes and procedures to confirm that they are in line with the standard, but are explicitly intended to provide feedback and to identify opportunities for improvement. Indeed, proving that we have improved our ISMS between audits is a requirement of ISO 27001. At every stage the expectation and requirement is that our ISMS is a living, breathing, system which strives for ever improved performance.

These three aspects of the ISO 27001 standard combine together answer to the question “How does ISO 27001 help Lexonis operate in a high threat environment?” by expressing a single principal – that perfect is the enemy of better.

No structured system can ever account for every threat, not every threat is equal and no serious view of information security can ever take the task to be complete. Nevertheless, ISO 27001 establishes a good baseline and builds in capacity to expand the system to meet new, or unanticipated threats; it prioritises information security efforts according to risk, and it designates a direction of travel for all ISMS’ operating under its’ rubric.

Lexonis recognises that there is no such thing as perfect information security, but if you are using our competency management software you can rest reassured that through our implementation of ISO 27001, Lexonis is working towards the ‘gold standard’ of information security.

IBM Beacon Award Finalist 2016

Lexonis Nominated as 2016 IBM Beacon Award Finalist for Outstanding Smarter Workforce/Kenexa Solution

LONDON, UK – February 24, 2016.
The Beacon Awards are part of IBM’s Business Partner recognition program and have been designed to recognize IBM Business Partners who have delivered exceptional solutions to drive business value and transform the way clients and industries do business in the future.

The winners and finalists were announced at the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida, United States. The winners were selected by a panel of expert judges consisting of IBM executives, industry analysts and members of the press.

Lexonis’ client case-study for the Award nomination was SITA Aero ( SITA’s success is based upon its distributed technology profession, by implementing Lexonis’ online Competency Management tools SITA Aero has successfully developed a clear, progressive and accessible career framework that helps to maximize workforce performance.

SITA selected the IBM-Lexonis partnership as it offers a scalable solution that covers all its business requirements, whilst being a recognized and experienced market leader in this sector.

Mike Gerentine - IBM Global Vice President, presents Andy Andrews with the IBM Beacon Award finalist trophy
Mike Gerentine – IBM Global Vice President, presents Andy Andrews with the IBM Beacon Award finalist trophy.


For more information about the nominations for the IBM Beacon Awards, please visit IBM

Building Job Competency Profiles – Using Online Job Role Surveys

There are a number of ways of gathering competency data in order to identify the competencies and proficiency levels required for a person to be successful in their job.

One effective way is by working with people who hold or have previously held the job. More often than not, we are interested in identifying ‘successful’ behaviours, so it makes sense to identify people who have been successful in the job, even if they have now moved on to another role within the organisation. It can also be useful to receive feedback from the managers of the successful incumbents.

What are some of the ways in which we can capture valuable input from the aforementioned audience for the job competency-profiling project?

  • Behavioural Interviews
  • Job Role Analysis Interviews
  • Job Role Surveys

The use of Behavioural Interviews in order to capture demonstrated, successful behavours; to group and analyse the results and write competencies or match competencies from a competency dictionary is an approach that is widely known. Also the use of Job Role Analysis Interviews to capture job responsibilities, tasks and identify relevant skills is well documented.

Online Job Role Surveys

In combination with these approaches, at Lexonis, we have we have had increasing success with using our online tools to capture feedback from job role holders, managers and business leaders from across the organisation. This approach works on the premise that we have already identified the pool of competencies required for the job family (we use online tools for this purpose too) and we would like to capture feedback on which specific competencies/levels are required for each job so that we can model the organisation’s Job Competency Profiles. The data that we capture using our online tools helps us to answer the following questions:

  • Which competencies did most people select for the specified job?
  • What proficiency levels did they choose and what was the average proficiency level?
  • What was the priority ranking for each competency chosen i.e. how important did people rate the competency for the job?

Figure 1 provides an example of the interface that we use to capture the feedback from job:

Figure 1

For this approach to work the interface must be very simple to use – ours is. The user reads the instructions provided and for the specified job (Business Analyst) they can review the descriptions of the competencies and behavours, select them if they are deemed critical to success for the job; they can select the proficiency level and once they have done so, they rank the competencies according to their importance for the job e.g. Business Analysis has been chosen as the top ranking competency for the Business Analyst job.

Using the Results

The results (shown in Figure 2) are used by our consultants to analyse which competencies were chosen, what the average level of proficiency was and how important the competency is rated for the job. Remember, this feedback can be captured from one or more job role holders, managers and business leaders. The sample participants are well chosen beforehand and provided with very clear and specific directions.

Figure 2


One of the great advantages of this approach is that it is possible to capture feedback from employees across a widely dispersed organisation. At Lexonis we have used this approach to include employees across the globe and to incorporate input from various countries and regions. Another advantage is that the service is very easy to use and helps employees to become familiar with the competencies that will potentially be associated with their jobs for assessment purposes. Finally – and this should not be under-estimated –this approach helps to build buy-in and consensus for your competency initiative.

If you are interested in learning from our experience of using such a job role survey approach or indeed of using our competency profiling tools please feel free to contact us.

How To Get Buy-in For Your Competency Program

Acquisition of competency libraries, definition of new competencies, job competency profiling, competency software implementation, competency consulting services, maintenance of your competency program – whichever way you think about it, implementing and maintaining a competency program is a big investment for any organisation. It’s critical to ensure that everybody understands the benefits derived before such an undertaking in order to maintain sponsorship and enthusiasm for your competency program.

Clearly a good communication plan is required which includes well-described benefits for everyone in the organisation. When articulating these benefits, consider them from the viewpoint of the beneficiary, for instance, how will I as an individual employee benefit? What if I am a manager, given the likely overhead on my time, how will I benefit? What about the executive team, if we are underwriting the time, cost and effort, is a competency program really worth the investment?

Of course the emphasis on which benefits will accrue will vary from organisation to organisation. The list of benefits provided below is by no means exhaustive, but it may help to trigger your thoughts on how to articulate the benefits within your own organisation:

As an Employee

  • I have a better understanding of what good ‘looks like’ – the competencies that I need, to be successful in my job;
  • I have a clearly defined individual learning and development plan that will help me to do my job;
  • I have a clear view of the competencies I need to develop for my chosen career path;
  • My competencies and expertise are visible to (and hopefully) recognised by my organisation;
  • I am developing clearly competencies and expertise that are recognised outside of my organisation.

As an Manager

  • I am better able to manage my teams’ performance because I have a clear picture of the competencies that people need in order to be successful in their jobs;
  • I better understand the strengths of my team and I am leveraging these strengths;
  • I have visibility of the competency gaps in the team and I am working to close those gaps through prescriptive learning and development activities;
  • I have meaningful career development discussions with my team members;
  • When asked to do so, I can identify subject matter experts in my team and articulate their level of expertise.

As an Executive Team

  • Our organisational capability (or resourcing plan) supports our key objectives and business strategy;
  • We are able to view the capability of the organisation and understand if/how it will meet operational demand;
  • As an organisation we are able to develop and retain competencies in a competitive job market;
  • We meet the compliance requirements stipulated by the regulator governing our industry sector.

Expounding the benefits of competency management is not a one-off exercise, keep the benefits at the forefront of peoples’ minds by using messages and media that will really appeal to them!