I have always been a big advocate of the saying: “The right tool for the right job.” I enjoy the various derivatives of this colloquialism as well, like, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” and my favorite, “You can’t eat soup with a fork.” In fact, we have a family story of Santa Claus failing to find the right tool one Christmas Eve and my little girl receiving a fantastic Little Tikes Kitchen with a broken coffee pot (word is Santa tried to use it to push some parts together when a hammer might have been a better tool).
But how does this apply to managers, you ask? Leaders owe it to their teams to provide the tools and supplies they need to do their jobs. But how many organizations actually make sure the team members possess the necessary tools to be successful in their jobs—and have developed competency models for each position?
Successful organizations recognize the importance of customer satisfaction to their own sustained business success. The key customer contact personnel drive this paradigm. Leadership of innovative organizations knows they need improved selection, training and certification in the skills to produce successful, customer-contact personnel. Just one underperforming candidate in the critical, customer-contact role can be an expensive error, likely costing the organization real revenue in lost future sales from losing a repeat customer as well as diminished brand value from bad “word of mouth” due to failing to deliver on customer expectations of the brand promise. In the social media world we live in today, that can be more damaging than losing the repeat customer.
So, what’s the tool needed to put together this customer delivery system? The Competency Model. The framework we use at OrgWide, depicted below, illustrates the relationship between four sets of interrelated human resource activities many organizations espouse and the connection to a foundation in established Core Competencies.
While solid selection processes and tools are important, if they aren’t based on validated core competencies required to do the job, you just don’t have the right tool.
Assessment procedures and processes also are critical to the long-term health of an organization. Again, if you aren’t assessing the validated competencies required to be successful in that particular job, you’re just trying to measure with something other than a tape measure.
Performance management and performance reviews are essential to keeping team members motivated. When you are measuring team member performance against anything other than the certified core competencies required to be successful in that job, you are reviewing with a tool that can’t be effective.
Coaching and the use of Individual Development Plans (IDP) are best demonstrated practices. But how can you coach someone when you haven’t confirmed the competencies required to be successful?
You see, the foundation for all of these vital management functions is the development of a set of validated core competencies for each job.
We follow a proven, five-step process to develop Competency Models. As every great cook knows, the magic is not in the recipe, but in how the recipe is followed.
1. Identify top performers – Identify incumbents in the position deemed to be most successfully completing the job family’s tasks today.
2. Determine critical success tasks – Develop a list of “tasks” or job duties within the job family that are completed on a regular basis by incumbents and critical to overall success in the job.
3. Conduct success factor survey – Conduct a research survey of the successful job incumbents to rate the task statements by frequency and importance.
4. Analyze survey results – Rank-order the task statements based on the ratings from the survey. Review and re-write the tasks based on expert responses.
5. Validate and publish – Provide a summary report establishing the psychometric properties of the analyses and publish the finalized competencies.
Once you have established the proven core competencies of success in a given job family, you have built the “proper tool” to use in developing the other manpower management processes to build your business.
Alas, if Santa had only known that his core competency was in purchasing the kitchen set, not in building it.
Jim Hartigan, chief business development Officer and partner joined OrgWide Services (http://www.orgwide.com), a learning, communications, surveys and consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim brings to OrgWide a reputation for driving change through improved business processes and developing comprehensive strategies that streamline operations, drive brand awareness and preference, and increase customer satisfaction.
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