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Don’t Chase Purple Squirrels, Use A Competency Model

When you need to hire more good people, don’t chase purple squirrels? A competency model can help you determine what knowledge, skills and behaviors to look for as you review candidates.

It is often the case that a job description is created by looking at similar job descriptions, and taking a bit of each one t create the description of the perfect candidate you want to hire. The problem with this approach is that you rapidly fall into the trap of defining a role that cannot be filled. A competency model will ensure you aren’t seeking the proverbial purple squirrel, as Professor Peter Cappelli of the Wharton School of Business described.

All managers, and certainly all executive team members know from basic business training that you must identify differentiated levels of knowledge, skills, and behaviors for the people in your organization. This sets the stage to develop a “diverse learning organization.” It also presents employees a motivating career growth path which in turn drives positive behavior in the workplace. Typically, there are 3 to 5 levels of competency in these terms.

Recall that knowledge is what people possess in their brain – it comes from a mindset of learning, not necessarily school or book training. Skills are the things that an individual develops in applying the knowledge she has accumulated. And, behavior is how he or she acts in the workplace – and the largest component of behavior is attitude.

Lower level competency for knowledge, skills and behaviors typically define a role (job description) for a task oriented employee. Task oriented employees take direction from their manager. Mid-level competency roles typically add proactive thinking and decision-making to a job, enabling management to rely on the individual to work more autonomously and at greater productivity. Higher-level competency roles generally indicate a strong level of active mentoring of others to do more and improve productivity. Employees in higher-level competency roles behave by demonstrating a clear understanding of the company’s goals and objectives, and think and act toward achieving them, without constant supervision. These employees are innovative and present ideas for improvement to everyone’s advantage.

Your human resources team should help you build a competency model for your team, group, division, organization or company. It is a growing and living model that changes as the goals and objectives of the company change.

Barton Staffing Solutions and Barton Professional Placement group can help. We offer consulting to give you the structure and the foundation to build your own competency model. Ask us how.