Sunday, April 8, 2012


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What is Competency Mapping

It is about identifying preferred behaviours and personal skills which distinguish excellent and outstanding performance from the average.

A Competency is something that describes how a job might be done, excellently; a Competence only describes what has to be done, not how. So the Competences might describe the duties of a Sales Manager for example, such as manage the sales office and its staff, prepare quotations and sales order processing, manage Key Accounts and supervise and motivate the field sales force. The Competencies which might determine excellence in this role could include Problem Solving and Judgment; Drive and Determination; Commercial Awareness; Inter-personal skills etc, all of which might be described further by Behavioural Indicators relating specifically to that post in that organisation.

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The broad concept might be said to be based on the frequently quoted adage people get hired for what they know but fired for how they behave!

Competency mapping

When should they be used

The use of Competencies can include assessment during recruitment, through specific work-based exercises and relevant, validated, psychometric tests; assessment during further development; as a profile during assessment to guide future development needs; succession planning and promotion; organisational development analysis.

Techniques used to map Competencies include Critical Incident Analysis and Repertory Grid.

Individual Improvement =

Organizational Improvement

Robin Throckmorton, M.A., SPHR

If you could find a tool that would provide beneficial feedback to employees that would lead to performance improvement and bottomline results to the organization, would you take advantage of it? Many organizations have found such a tool and found many uses for it. For a number of years, this tool was viewed as a fad but it has survived that first impression and become a tool for organizational improvement. This tool is multi-rater feedback or 60 degree feedback.

Lets start by defining multi-rater feedback so we are all on the same page

Multi-rater feedback is a behavioral assessment focused on obtaining feedback on an individuals performance relative to key behaviors from those around the individual including direct reports, peers, customers, supervisor, and even themselves.

The concept of multi-rater feedback is that everyone who is interfacing with an individual has perceptions of how they feel the individual is performing. Too often, the supervisor is relied upon to provide this feedback. Not all supervisors have the opportunity to see the employee perform on a day to day basis or in all situations that the employees peers, direct reports, or customers may. Plus, by focusing the feedback on the behaviors needed to succeed on the job, the individual will have a better chance of identifying and implementing changes and improvements to those behaviors like communications, team orientation, or customer service.

But, before we get too far, we need to realize that multi-rater feedback is not necessarily the right tool for everyone. To begin with and most importantly, your organization must have a very high trusting culture. If employees dont trust each other or the organization, they will either not participate in the multi-rater assessment or fail to provide the open and honest feedback necessary to benefit the individual and ultimately the bottomline of the organization. Some other issues to consider are

1) Do employees feel like their input is valued?

) Does everyone feel like they are treated fairly and equally?

) Is there cooperation between units, teams, and/or departments?

4) Do the employees want this feedback?

Finally, for multi-rater feedback to succeed it must be championed and fully supported by management. This means managers must feel that multi-rater feedback does support the strategic goals and values of the organization. Therefore, they will support the time and resources needed through implementation and long-term development of behaviors.

Before we get into more specific details, there is one more thing we need to address. Will you be using the multi-rater feedback for appraisal (employment decisions) or development? At least in the beginning, if not always, multi-rater feedback must be used for development only. Even if you have the most trusting and supportive environment, your data / feedback from others will be corrupted if it impacts an employment decision (i.e. merit increase, promotion, termination). If you use it for development only, employees feel more comfortable providing open and honest feedback that will help someone else improve performance, which ultimately improves everyones performance. After time, you can assess whether or not your organization is ready to move from using the feedback for development to appraisal but it is definitely not recommended in the early stages.

So if your organization is ready for multi-rater feedback and is initially using it only for development, there are a number of ways that you can use the tool including individual development, organizational culture change, teamwork, indirect input on an appraisal, customer input, or succession planning. Below are a few examples of how I have used multi-rater feedback with my clients

Management Team I designed and administered a multi-rater feedback tool to the top management team. The goal was to help the managers develop their management/leadership behaviors and obtain input on how the employees in the organization viewed each manager as well as the team. Each manager confidentially received their data and immediately used it to help improve their leadership. The feedback was exactly what the managers needed to move forward and gain the support of their employees!

New Team Leader I had an individual who was taking on a new role as a team leader. In order to ensure he was effectively leading the team, I facilitated input from the team members to identify the expected behaviors of the team leader. He was then assessed every 60 days to see how he was doing as their new team leader. The motivation and support he received from the team through this effort was priceless; plus, he became the leader that they needed to succeed.

Employee Development Ive used multi-rate feedback for employee development in two different ways. First, I designed and administered it to all employees as a development tool to help employees continue to grow and develop in their careers with the organization. It was received by both management and employees as a win-win opportunity for the entire organization. Another way I have used multi-rater feedback is to help employees who dont realize how others perceive their performance. By using the tool, we were able to identify some areas for improvement that would lead toward removing some of the negative perceptions others had of them.

Succession Planning Every organization should have a succession plan for at least their key positions. To determine the readiness of an individual for a position, I have used multi-rater feedback to assess the individuals behaviors relative to the key position they were being groomed for. We then began developing the areas of improvement so the individual would be ready when the succession plan was enacted.

As you can see, there are many ways that you can use multi-rater feedback to help improve an individuals behavior which in turn improves the organizations performance. To implement a multi-rater feedback program, youll need to do or think about the following

1) Do you want to create your own instrument or buy one off the shelf?

) What are the key behaviors of your organization or each position that you want to assess?

) How will you define each behavior to ensure the quality of the assessment?

4) How many questions will be on your survey? (Note Its easy for this number to grow but depending on your organization, you want to keep it as low as possible while still providing quality results. Generally, between 0 - 50 questions is about right).

5) Do you want an outside organization to administer the process to enhance confidentiality or is there enough trust to do it internally?

6) Will the instrument be paper and pencil, computer based, web based, telephone service, or face to face interview?

7) What training or communications will you provide to the individuals being assessed, to the raters, and to the supervisors?

8) Who will choose the respondents the employee or the supervisor?

) How will you ensure the utmost confidentiality of the entire process?

10) What will the results look like? Will you provide one overall average for each behavior or break it down by type of respondent (i.e. peer, direct report, supervisor)? Will it be graphical and/or numerical? Will you identify the strengths or developmental needs for the employee?

11) Who will get the results the employee, supervisor, or both?

1) Will a copy of the results be maintained in the employees file?

1) Who will discuss the results with the employee? Supervisor? HR? Internal Consultant? External Consultant? (No matter whom you select, be sure they are trained to provide effective feedback).

14) What supports will be available to help coach the employee through the development and implementation of an improvement plan?

15) How will you evaluate the entire program to ensure it is meeting its intended goals for the organization?

Multi-rater feedback takes a great deal of time and thought to been done correctly and effectively. You dont want to spend all that time and effort and have the program fizzle. Organizations that have been able to use multi-rater feedback successfully have

A commitment and link to their business goals and values.

An effective communication plan to ensure everyone understands and is comfortable with all aspects of the program.

An emphasis on confidentiality that is never breached.

Clear accountability and follow-up plans that are created to ensure development.

Many organizations have already begun to reap the benefits of multi-rater feedback through its many uses. You too can benefit! With the dramatic improvements in technology, many new off the shelf tools are coming available daily. Plus, with all this enhanced technology, it viable for you to create a customized tool yourself or through an external consultant for not much more. As you evaluate your organizations effectiveness, be sure you consider how multi-rater feedback can help improve your organizations performance. Isnt it worth checking it out

Performance Management

The Individual Strategic Plan

Robin Throckmorton, M.A., SPHR

Performance management has become an ever-increasing critical tool to success for businesses. Within the last year we have experienced both a booming economy as well as a recession; a historically low unemployment rate combined with massive layoffs and business closings. But the bottom line to all of this is people! AND, we are human and as such are typically much more productive when we have clear goals, expectations, and feedback.

Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?

That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat.

I dont much care where- said Alice

Then it doesnt much matter which way you go, said the Cat.

- from Alices Adventures in Wonderland

If you have had the opportunity to attend one of my strategic planning sessions, youve seen me use this quote in reference to developing a company or departments strategic plan. But, a strategic plan is a waste of time and effort if it does not get communicated and tied to the performance of all employees through Individual Strategic Plans. Whether this is a formal process or informal process depends a great deal on your particular organization.

Lets start with the informal process...If your organization can effectively communicate and link the strategic goals of the organization to each individuals goals AND regularly provide feedback to an employee, then you may be able to succeed without a formal performance management tool. Even with an informal process, you will need to develop a system with specific checkpoints to be sure the communication is constant and two-way to ensure that the employee is on-track and getting both positive and constructive feedback in a timely manner.

If the world was perfect, I would encourage everyone to use an informal process; however, time seems to get the best of us. Without a formal process, goals are unclear at best, if any, and feedback is rare. To facilitate a process that is successful for both the employee and the organization, a formal performance management system can work for you. A well-designed performance management system should make your job easier not more cumbersome.

To begin developing a system or any new program or initiative, I like to use Development Dimension Internationals (DDI) six Checkpoints for Implementation

1. OUTCOMES - What results am I looking for?

For your performance management system, youll need to think about what you hope to gain from the system. For example increased productivity, improve retention, increased employee morale, and improved communications.

. BENEFITS - Why is this important? (Payoff - Whats in it for me?)

Both the company and the employee need to know why they are doing this in order to feel ownership for the system. Your organization may see the benefits as some of the outcomes listed above, as well as a method for linking individual performance to the organizations performance. Individuals may see it as a way to continue to develop and grow with the organization while adding value back to the company. Remember, growth opportunities and meaningful work are two of the top reasons employees leave their jobs.

. BARRIERS - What might prevent me from being successful?

In order to ensure the success of your system, you need to anticipate any barriers and identify what you will do to prevent or minimize the impact of those barriers. Some examples may be resistance to change, time constraints, or lack of management support.

4. SUPPORT- What resources are available?

Youll need to clearly identify what resources or individuals are available to help you develop and implement the system. Once you have identified your resources, youll want to include them in the process as much as possible in order to obtain their buy-in and benefit from what they can offer. Some examples of support are top management, employees, expert consults, other organizations, budget, and customer needs.

5. APPROACH - What steps must I take to achieve my goals? (Be specific -- who, when, duration, etc.)

By identifying the outcomes, benefits, barriers, and supports, you will be better able to begin mapping out the approach for developing and implementing your performance management system. Some questions you may want to consider include

a. What exactly do you need formalized to help facilitate goal setting, feedback, and documentation?

Many times organizations assume performance management is the evaluation at the end of the review period. However, an effective performance management system begins with the development of a performance plan at the BEGINNING of the evaluation period. This performance plan or individual strategic plan is a living document that may need updating throughout the plan year.

In general, systems should include both competencies and goals. With most of my clients, we develop a group of core competencies or behaviors that mirror the values of the organization. Plus, we develop individualized goals for each employee that are tied to the goals of the business.

There are many canned and customizable systems out there that can help you identify what you want to include in your system. To help you generate ideas, you may want to seek samples from other companies or resources (i.e. Performance Appraisals A Collection of Samples by SHRM Information Center ~$5.00 or Performance Impact by KnowledgePoint). Be sure any piece of information you include on the form adds value rather than creates work for others. Plus, be sure the form is a tool not a rule!

b. How often do you need to formally discuss goals and feedback versus informally?

Like your business plan, a performance plan is a living document and the goals and feedback should be ongoing and constant. However, it often takes a formal get-together for this to actually happen. If your organization is not one to proactively meet throughout the plan year, then a formal meeting, even if short, should be arranged at least quarterly to ensure an employee is getting timely feedback and still supporting both their individual and the organizations strategic plan(s). Plus, if you summarize this quarterly meeting your end of the year review will be a breeze.

c. Who needs to be trained on performance management and coaching?

We all could benefit from training on performance management and coaching. Even if you are the best manager, a refresher on performance management simply helps you continuously grow as a proactive manager. Formal training can also help ensure all managers are working with the same set of tools, including assistance with the seeming struggle about how to be a manager and a coach at the same time. Learning what has been successful and not successful with others will help everyone in the organization succeed.

d. What will you do to involve both employees and management in the process?

Employees and supervisors will not take the time for performance planning and reviews if management does not support it. Management has to realize the value added (i.e. increased productivity, improved morale, retention) of performance management and demonstrate their support of the system to all employees. This may require involving a key management player in the development and implementation of the system.

Like management, employees will be more encouraged to take the feedback and direction of performance management seriously if they are involved with the development of the system. To do this, you can either survey employees to identify their needs or include them in a team tasked to evaluate and develop a program. Plus, COMMUNICATE!!!

e. How will the system be tied to compensation?

Of course, any system is going to be much more open and honest when there is little or no connection to pay. The catch is, that you need have to have some way to measure employee performance, in order to provide performance based increases. Youll need to develop a clear philosophy and supporting policy for merit increases. Because this will depend on your budget and values, each organization may have a totally different philosophy and policy on pay increases. By making this policy clear and communicating it up front, the link to compensation will have a better chance of being both objective and effective.

6. EVALUATION - How will I know when Ive reached my goal?

To often this last checkpoint in implementation is skipped. It is very important for you to constantly evaluate your program. Some ways you can do this is through focus groups, employee surveys, or interviewing management. The key is to schedule it and just do it!

Remember, you dont want your employees feeling like Alice did in Alice in Wonderland. You need to be sure you are communicating the expectations and goals of the organization and tying them to each employees Individual Strategic Plan in order to realize success. Whether this is a formal or an informal process doesnt matter as long as you are doing it!!

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