Competencies: Over the past several decades, competency-based evaluation has ruled the roost, and yet, there is significant debate about their efficacy.
a. Start with the Science
i. Most companies (90%) have competency models for managers. Unfortunately, they have become the tail wagging the dog.
ii. The level of detail and complexity of many complexity models, while theoretically understandable, can create more fog than clarity to help managers improve.
iii. Creating “bundles” of significant behaviors should be what companies focus on. Keep it simple and direct. Such common behaviors define corporate culture.
b. Eliminate Complexity, Add Value
i. Eliminate Complexity: While numerous models exist on the market, most converge on key issues. Better to use a simple model, completely integrate it, and have relentless execution on the few important fundamentals. Here’s one example from a motto Cisco developed: “Grow the Business, Grow Our Team, Grow Yourself.”
ii. Develop a simple, succinct, integrated competency model. Ask executives questions like: What are the characteristics of an effective leader in your company? Can you describe specific behaviors? Prioritize your results, cluster them to identify themes, and come up with an inspirational description like Cisco’s. Or GE’s simple Growth Values: Imagination, Expertise, Inclusiveness, Clear Thinking, and External Focus. When you’ve done that, then integrate those behaviors throughout all levels and all talent practices like 360s, performance reviews, leadership coaching, engagement survey, external selection, annual bonus, and long-term incentives.
iii. The authors also offer an OPTM matrix to experiment with. A two by two matrix ranging from Stable to Unstable and Efficiency to Innovation. They suggest aligning new executives along the paths that will “fit” well with where the company needs to go—especially in a competitive market (starts on p. 145).
c. Create Transparency and Accountability
i. Measure in Talent Reviews: Use 360s shared with manager and employee as a way to assess not only future development but also assignments. Of course, the employee needs to know about the process up front.
ii. Measure as part of Performance Appraisal: Consider whether you hold performance and talent reviews together or separately. Whichever way you do them, be sure to integrate critical behaviors into them. Some research argues to hold performance and talent reviews separately.