By now, most of us have caught on to the idea that talking about skills is cool, and many companies are simply replacing the word learning with skills. While this idea is taking over the L&D world, many professionals are facing challenges in reconciling this idea with their companies’ pre-existing competency models.
The problem with competency maps is they evolve so quickly and they’re often outdated before being approved and published. And who really knows how to measure the broad statements they often contain, such as, “ . . . Treats customers with empathy and kindness while expediently resolving their issues?” Maybe that’s why organizations also have committees to calibrate the resulting competency measurement processes.
So we understand the complexity around competency models, but what’s the alternative? Our solution: mapping skills to roles to quantify ability and create visibility. Once you’ve mapped, you measure, modify, and share what you’re learning with the data. We can help with these five steps.
1. Start With WhyThis is the fundamental business reason why you’re measuring skills. For most organizations, the main driver is growth, whether that is in size, in new markets, or in new products and services to future-proof your organization.
Don’t stop there, though. Remember that you must get this data from people. And to get the most accurate data, it’s best to avoid highly pressurized moments, like promotions or raises. Another best practice is to identify a “why” for each individual, which is often a version of career progression, especially if it occurs within the organization (think internal mobility).
2. Focus on a Few Roles to StartRemember that one of the reasons competency models don’t work is their complexity. They’re layered and wordy, so let’s not repeat that mistake. When crafting your solution, focus on a few critical roles to start. Maybe you start with growth roles or high-performing departments—even a horizontal role, like a manager or business analyst. Or perhaps you focus on important skills for new hires, like going back to the basics.
3. Map Skills to RolesAfter selecting a handful of crucial roles, it’s time to map skills to them. Sounds easy, right? It can be but there are a few common challenges:
- Too Many: Recall where we went off the road with competencies and avoid doing too much. This makes it challenging to hit the goal identified in step one. In other words, it will make it difficult to glean immediate insights.
- Non-Critical: The reality is that every one of us is a complex system of skills. Some of these skills help us to be successful in our current role while others may be completely unrelated to the current role. And some are supporting but maybe not critical. It’s the last group that organizations might include when they really aren’t necessary.
- Top-Down: Our recent report with Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning in How the Workforce Learns shows that our employees know their skills and skills gaps. So why aren’t we asking them? You’ll get better input along with better output to meet your goal.