Are You Doing Competency Modeling Right?

Posted By: John Hindman, Director of Learning Services, Tooling U-SME on May 15, 2019

John Hindman

The question we will discuss today is: Are you doing competency modeling right? But maybe the first question should be: Are you doing competency modeling at all? You should be if you want to align your business needs with your workforce, eliminate skill gaps and drive talent development.

Here's why: Competency models define desired performance through a specific set of related knowledge, skills, and abilities. Assessing an individual against these competencies will clearly and precisely identify gaps, define training requirements, and guide development for current and future roles.

This standard is an essential part of workforce learning and development, used by manufacturers who successfully tie workforce competency to strategic business planning.

Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle where all the needed pieces come together to form a complete picture – or in this case, a common definition for a worker's job role and how that job role relates to others within your company.

While traditional competency models have been used for leadership development training and succession planning, today this approach is used throughout the organization, covering both hourly and salaried workers.

At all levels, competency models ensure that workers are truly capable in their role. Employers are using them to provide a structured way to:

  • Look at job progression and development through career pathways
  • Complete assessment and workforce planning
  • Identify competency gaps and put effective and efficient training in place

The reality is that if there are no performance standards, companies lose when it comes to productivity. Validating the skills and knowledge of employees directly translates into real bottom line benefits like improved quality, cycle time, and safety, while reducing scrap and downtime.

This approach also brings a boost in job satisfaction and morale as workers see clear career pathways. Again, this has dollar and cents benefits with a reduced cost of turnover.

So now let's talk about how to do competency modeling right.

Competency is not a checkbox that says that someone completed a class. It's necessary to validate that knowledge has been transferred and skill has been demonstrated, not just that a class has been completed. A sustainable qualification program, based on competencies, will provide employees with the opportunity to gain new skills, apply them on the job, and then have their new skills sets validated through assessment. Leading organizations have even adopted micro-competency strategies that allow workers to gain new skills faster, which will both provide the worker with quicker movement up the progression ladder, while improving capability for the company.

A well-designed system tied to business goals will codify knowledge and skills required for specific job roles with an aligned curriculum. This framework becomes the foundation for performance management, talent acquisition and leadership development.

Manufacturers that rely on competency modeling will build the high-performing teams they need to retain a competitive advantage for years to come.

And speaking of what's to come, stay tuned for our next post on how to plan for the competencies of the future.

Want to know more about how manufacturers are using competency models to build the capabilities needed to remain competitive? Read Part II: Predicting Manufacturing Competencies of the Future.

Tags: competencies, "Competency Framework for Manufacturing Excellence", "competency modeling", "learning and development", manufacturing, "skills gap", talent, "Tooling U-SME"