Competencies, or simply defined as a combination of knowledge, skills and abilities required by a person to do a job efficiently and effectively. Every role in this world requires a set of competencies to do it well. Hence, it becomes imperative for the competencies to be identified and tracked for better performance and higher productivity in an organization.
A lot of jargon goes around the word “competency” and the endeavor of this post is not to add another definition of competency but to give a few simple pointers, if you are beginning to carve out competencies for your organization for the first time or are taking a fresh look at them to realign the organization in tune with the ever-changing workplace.
Let’s begin with a simple question that comes really at the beginning of trying to come up with a set of competencies. Why do you need a competency? Here are a few pointers on that:
Hopefully, that gives a picture of the purpose of competencies in an organization. Next comes the more crucial question of How to Select a Competency? Again, the approach should be to look at the fundamentals of business and try and link why you are trying to put in a set of competencies in the first place.
Well, we are not done yet. Once you have defined the competencies for each role in the organization, it’s time to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. So, how to make the most of competencies?
We would love to hear your observations and comments.
The spectrum of treatment that the Performance Appraisal Process is meted out in various organizations ranges from complete indifference to overpowering fear.
Let’s visualize the Performance Appraisal Process for once. Your Manager schedules a meeting with you and other team members to have a one-on-one where he will ‘appraise’ you. Using his extraordinary memory, he recalls every bit of contribution that you made at the workplace during the last 12 months. He superhumanly collects all the feedback you should receive from all the important stakeholders, painstakingly analyzes it and then weaves that into your performance appraisal. He then follows it up with a detailed feedback to you on where you did well and where you missed a few opportunities. He takes time out to connect you with individuals who are doing well in areas where you can develop. Well, none of this truly ever happens!
Often, Performance Appraisal is treated as just another process in the workplace. If you are lucky, your Manager will spend a few minutes to tell you about the quality of your contribution and give some feedback, based on the “recency effect” – things that he can recall from top of his mind. You end up thinking whether you got a fair chance of being ‘appraised’ and you stop looking forward to such discussions. You perhaps end up doing the same to your team when it comes to appraising them. And in the end, the entire Performance Appraisal process suffers.
Performance Appraisal process can really get a fillip with feedback on employees from multiple stakeholders. A lot of organizations do collect ‘360º Feedback’ once or twice a year. A few of them use some tools while others do it through just emails. It becomes so difficult to keep track of these emails on one hand and on the other hand, collecting feedback a few times a year is not enough to appraise an employee for her year-long efforts.
A robust Performance Appraisal process is one which runs throughout the year with continuous feedback streaming in for every employee
and is bi-directional – seniors can also get insightful feedback from their junior colleagues if there has been a meaningful collaboration over a project or assignment.
The advantages of a continuous feedback are its real time characteristics and takes the burden off the Manager to go through the cumbersome process. A real-time continuous feedback can collect feedback through everyday tools like email and collaboration platforms like Slack to give deep insights into a Manager’s team. By being available in everyday tools, employees are keen to click a few options within these tools to give feedback and the feedback giving rate dramatically goes up to 70-80% as opposed to using traditional survey tools which have a meagre 20-30% It thus allows the Manager to do coaching conversations to truly engage his team members and embark them on a path of productivity and enhanced performance, and help them realize their true potential.
The other important stakeholder, besides the Manager, is the HR. HR department can come under tremendous pressure pushing people to complete the process within timelines and then collating all the data that flows in from multiple functions throughout the organization. A true Continuous Feedback system comes power-packed with real-time Analytics that present sharp insights into the organization. HR department can easily take data cuts of every function, every hierarchy level to proceed with a successful completion of the Performance Management Process.
So it’s now possible with a Real-time Continuous Feedback System in place, the Performance Appraisal process can move from zones of sheer indifference and overwhelmingly fearsome to one of truly-deserved importance and impact.
HR guru Dave Ulrich once famously said ‘Abolish HR!’ ringing the alarm bells for the imminent loss of credibility of HR in organizations. To view it in the right perspective, out of all the functions in an organization, HR is the only one farthest from access to and usage of any form of real-time data. Sales has real-time customers and lead funnel data, finance has revenue and expenditure data and production has inventory, work-in-progress and finished goods data at their fingertips at any point of time. Unfortunately, HR has no real-time data around the employees on their competencies, skills, behaviors or values that the organization expects them to exhibit.
While HR is the custodian of competencies, there is no way for HR to know at what level the competencies are at a point in time in the organization. In the absence of credible data, many an HR initiatives fall flat on their faces.
However, with the advent of next-gen feedback solutions it is now possible to collect data around employees through feedback gathered from their peers on a continuous basis. Feedback can be collected seamlessly from employees which increases higher response rate and collects data that is contextually relevant. This data can then be analyzed using Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning methods to give important evidence-based insights into many facets of HR viz. Performance Management, Reward & Recognition, Learning & Development amongst many others. This article focuses on how continuous feedback can be used to power success of Learning & Development in organizations.
HR undertakes several Learning & Development activities for the enhancement of competencies necessary for carrying out the jobs well by employees. These activities are then calendarized for the year and communicated to various departments for them to nominate employees. While a lot of effort goes into this exercise, such activities are often plagued with no visibility of what programs will work the best to address skill gaps, loss of retention of learning objectives after the activities are over and no investment in competencies necessary for the future skill roadmap of the organization.
With continuous feedback, it is now possible to have real-time data that sharply focuses on programs that enhance the skills of employees, increase retention by continuous inputs around manifested competencies & behaviors and apportion budget on ‘missing’ skills in the organizational skill inventory. Such insights are available through rich analytics which the HR can use to be really future ready.
The continuous feedback system is a great way to enhance the L&D effectiveness of an organization. The cloud-based solution is easy to deploy, upgrade to keep up to the changing organizational dynamics and comes at a fraction of cost compared to conventional enterprise HR software.
It’s time for HR to take cognizance of the power of real-time data through continuous feedback and be in step with the other functions like sales, finance & production in the organization.