5 principles of strategic competency modeling

In a previous article, we contrasted traditional job analysis with strategic competency modeling. We showed how these important processes differ, with specific emphasis on how strategic competency modeling can be used to sketch out the strategic goals of an organization and in doing so, provide guidelines on how strategy can be translated into behavior.

Today, we take that discussion further and turn our attention to the core features of strategic competency modeling.

Here are 5 principles of strategic competency modeling that explain how this practice can add value to any talent management cycle.

#1 Strategic

When conducting competency modeling, practitioners need to be cognizant of getting the correct SMEs together to achieve their aims. Different from traditional job analysis, strategic competency modeling requires both strategic experts and insiders as well as specialists who know the detail of the business’s operations.

So, while a typical job analysis panel may be composed of incumbents and managers of incumbents, competency modeling panels would recruit senior strategists, executive-level leaders, and operational heads.

IO Practitioners who conduct strategic competency modeling should target those personnel who are the custodians of organizational strategy and culture.

#2 Distinctiveness

Strategic competencies derived from such discussions relate closely to an organization’s DNA and have the following elements in common:

  • They refer to human capital that has longevity within the organization
  • They capture the organization’s distinctive competitive advantage
  • They tend to be difficult to copy
  • They are especially focused on a knowledge-based economy

#3 Universality

While job competencies tend to be attached to the particularities of a specific role, competencies derived from strategic competency modeling are more ubiquitous.

Such competencies are intended to communicate an organization’s strategic goals and wished-for outcomes, and as such, are universally applied across all jobs.

Therefore, strategic competencies differ from job-specific competencies not in whether they are applied to specific roles but how they are applied to such roles.

#4 Enhancing

It should by now be obvious that strategic competencies are not meant to be used for describing how roles differ, but rather how they all need to reflect on-brand, strategically aligned behaviors.

In that sense, strategic competency modeling is best used alongside traditional job analysis as a strategic enhancement. Indeed, job analysis is especially important for assessment professionals who want to get as close to the job as possible: A goal we prize highly here at TTS.

Strategic competency modeling can enhance this activity by showing how strategy permeates all behaviours, albeit in different ways.

#5 Accessibility

While measurable aspects of certain competencies tend to lean towards more scientific and assessment-specific terminology, strategic competencies are best conceptualized using everyday, easily recognizable words that gain quick traction within the vocabulary of the organisation.

This is intentional. Part of the design of strategic competencies is to be prescriptive signals rather than descriptive constructs. In order for strategic competencies to do the work they were intended for, they have to speak in a language that will be accessible to all employees.

Closing thoughts

Competencies remain relevant and critical to today’s IO Practitioners and talent management specialists. And while we may distinguish between job-relevant and more universal, strategic competencies, the basic necessity of competencies as models of behavior will remain firmly rooted in our discipline for some time to come.

Competencies are most assuredly not dead!

If you are interested in how TTS can help you employ best-practice competency modeling and job analysis, why not drop us a line at info@tts-talent.com?

Source: Sanchez, J. I. & Levine, E. L. (2009). What is (or should be) the difference between competency modeling and traditional job analysis?. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 53-63.