How to Use Competency Models for Onboarding

Monday, March 21, 2016

Imagine you’re walking into a new job on your first day. You’ve interviewed, you’ve talked to people, and you think that you’re ready. But typically, unless the person you’re replacing is still at the company and a high performer who is able to articulate all the role’s best practices easily, the actual expectation of the required skills and behaviors for the new job are merely guesswork.

So you do what all new hires do. You ask people, you fumble a little, you learn as you go, and over time, you hopefully hit your stride.

But what if you don’t?

According to a recent article in TD magazine

  • 31 percent of people have quit a job within the first six months. 
  • 22 percent of turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment. 
  • The cost of losing an employee in the first year is estimated to be at least three times the person’s salary.

What if you, as the new hire, had a way of reviewing all those expectations and best practices early on, so you could eliminate the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that leads to the statistics above? That’s what competency models bring to onboarding:  

  • They allow new hires to become familiar with the nuances of the job, which will make them successful.  
  • They help new hires identify what’s important in corporate culture, because those aspects are reflected in the desired behaviors. 
  • When you enable new hires to self-assess against the competency model, they can learn the baseline skill set and what gaps they have to close to be successful. 
  • They map skill gaps to learning opportunities, empowering new hires to close those gaps so they can immediately begin their journey toward competency. 
  • They help new hires see what specific behaviors they should exhibit in various situations to increase their proficiency and become high performers.

People are intrinsically motivated toward competence. When they can’t achieve it, they become stressed and frustrated, and begin looking elsewhere for opportunities to be successful. And that leads to attrition.
If you want to retain new hires and help them achieve their potential, embrace competency models and put them to use during the onboarding process.  

About the Author

Cheryl Lasse is SkillDirector’s managing partner. Her goal is helping people and companies achieve their potential. Cheryl has extensive experience with competency model development and implementation, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion with others. Check out the LinkedIn group Competency Models For Professional Development.

She believes people are intrinsically motivated to excel, if they are given access to a competency model for their role, the opportunity to assess themselves against that model, and personalized learning to help them close gaps and meet aspirational goals. This philosophy has been embodied in the Self-Directed Learning Engine, the engine behind the ATD Skill Tracker.

Cheryl has a strong background in consulting, marketing, and sales, mostly in technology companies, where training has played a chief role throughout her career. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University in computer science and HR, and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

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