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4 Reasons Using Competency Models to Build a Skills Inventory Will Make You a Hero


Wed Oct 12 2016

4 Reasons Using Competency Models to Build a Skills Inventory Will Make You a Hero

What are the capabilities of your organization? Do you know? If you’re in talent, learning, and development, you should. And that probably means you should have a skills inventory. Let’s use a simple technique called the 5 Whys to find out why it is important to have one.

You should have a skills inventory. 


Why is that important? 

Because it will identify what my target audience is capable of doing. 

Why is that important? 

Because if I know what we’re not capable of doing, then I’ll know what development is required. 

Why is that important? 


Because my job is to develop people so they are capable of executing their part of the corporate strategy, in their particular role in the company. 

Why is that important? 

Because if all employees can execute their part of that corporate strategy, then the company’s strategy will be achieved, and we’ll all be wildly successful. (That is, I’ll be a hero!)

So now that we know why it is important to have a skills inventory, you can create one using a competency model (or capability model).

Once you have a competency model (and you can learn how to build one here), you need people to perform a skills assessment against that model. A self-assessment combined with a manager (or expert) assessment against the competency model, complete with behavioral examples to guide your assessment, works best. A good competency assessment tool then manages your skills inventory. It should include analytics to help you look at skills from various viewpoints: regionally, by product line, by role, or other relevant characteristics. And you want to be sure that everyone who needs access to those analytics will have it.


You probably don’t want to do this assessment using your talent management system because you are risking the accuracy and integrity of the results. Expecting someone to assess themselves accurately when compensation and promotions may be at stake is noble, but not likely to occur. It is human nature to overestimate your capabilities if you know the results of your input can have an immediate impact on your pay and chances of a promotion. By utilizing talent management systems to build your skills inventory, you risk having an inventory that does not accurately reflect the capabilities and limitations of your audience.

Once it’s created, here’s what you can do with a skills inventory: 

  • Identify who to put on what projects. 

  • Assess the readiness of the group to meet customer requirements based on strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Identify realistic targets for each person or the team. 

  • Optimally segment sales teams or channel partners. 

  • Identify who can serve as task-based mentors to others (more on mentoring). 

  • Highlight who can lead workshops or present at conferences or industry events.

Having a skills inventory is especially critical for: 

  • people in industries faced with technological innovations that require new and emerging skill sets to sell and support these innovations in increasingly competitive markets 

  • people in technology companies where managers are not always aware of their employees’ breadth of skills 

  • professional services organizations where assigning the best person to a project is critical to success.

In summary, if you use a competency model for each role to let people self-assess in a safe, unbiased environment, you will have the best opportunity for a true skills inventory: 

  • It will identify what your target audience is capable of doing. 

  • You’ll know what development they need to close gaps. 

  • You can develop them individually to be able to execute their part of the corporate strategy, in their specific role. 

  • The company’s strategy can be achieved, and the company can be wildly successful.

You’ll be a hero!

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