A successful competency program has to deliver tangible employee, operational and strategic benefits, and particularly for large organizations, this requires supporting technology. Here are 5 key reasons why you need to think about using technology to support the competency initiatives in your organization:
- Browsing – Competency frameworks can be complex, add to that job competency profiles, mapped learning and development activities and it represents a rich data structure. It’s not so easy to view relational data in document format, particularly when large volumes of data are involved. Online tools that allow you to simply ‘point and click’ to browse competency definitions, competency-based job descriptions, interview and coaching guides really help to bring competencies to life and add real value to the organisation. They also provide a user-friendly experience for employees who are simply interested in viewing their career development opportunities.
- Content Management – How do you keep all this competency data up to date? Many of our clients at Lexonis formerly used Microsoft Word documents and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage updates of their competency and job definitions. How do you manage version control using these tools? To illustrate, online technology enables you to make the change to a competency definition once and the change cascades to all instances where that competency is used. Linked workbooks are great, but do you really want to try and do that in Microsoft Excel?! At Lexonis we leverage the power of technology even further by providing the ability to copy, compare and merge content e.g. job competency profiles.
- Consulting Tools – You probably didn’t think of this one, but the appropriate technology can help you to display content for survey, calibration and job analysis purposes. At Lexonis, we have saved our clients a great deal of onsite consulting fees and travel time by providing online tools that are accessed from the desktop and can be used to facilitate competency reviews and workgroup sessions.
- Assessment and Validation – Let me illustrate this one with a real example, a number of years ago I was working with an organization that had spent many months and a sizeable budget on customizing a freely available IT competency framework. They sent me a hard copy of their handiwork – it was the size of a hardback encyclopaedia! Using this paper-based tool, each employee was required to carry out a self-assessment of the competencies associated with their job. Can you imagine how long it would have taken each of the 1,400 participants to complete this task?! What was the result? The 1,400 responses were placed on a shelf, never to be used – there was no way to make practical use of the results directly from paper. The initiative choked and died.
- Gap and Capability Analysis – Thinking further about the anecdote above, imagine if you were looking to find a person from the 1,400 employees with a unique set of four or five competencies with a specified level of proficiency, someone to work on a project; to fill a vacancy; to succeed someone else – real business requirements. How many hours would it take to sift through the paper responses from the 1,400 employees? On the other hand, well-designed technology can very easily provide a report that lists employees who have matching competency profiles and it can do so within seconds. Technology-led solutions can also provide views on the organization’s competency gaps and capability. Try doing the same with a paper-based assessment!
So, are you still using old-fashioned methods to manage your competency programs? Think about how the technology tools listed in this blog could help you with your competency project. Having said that, it’s not only important to use technology, you need to use something that’s fit for purpose – but that’s a blog for another time.