How to Align Competencies with Your Business Goals
March 13, 2017 Mike ErlinDeveloping genuine competencies in your business involves far more than brushing up on employee skills. It requires a comprehensive process aligning the specific goals of your company to the discrete skills and behaviours needed to achieve these goals. Essentially, these represent ‘competencies’ or what some folks are more frequently referring to as ‘capabilities’.
The Learning Strategy identifies the competencies that need to be developed for success, the gaps that exist today, the prioritisation of filling those gaps and the timeline by which it needs to be done.
Without a sound learning strategy, the content you use to deliver your training will be scattergun, failing to hit the target.
How do you match goals with training?
- Work out your business objectives, for example larger deals or stronger customer service.
- Devise a learning strategy focused on all the skills and behaviours your workers need to achieve these objectives – at minimum, your organisation needs to hire to, maintain or develop these within the workforce.
- Work out a content strategy that fulfils the learning strategy’s objectives by satisfying the different groups learners (Millennial/Generation Y/Generation X or maybe by function) specific learning needs or preference.
- Leverage key business stakeholders to ensure you remain business-driven rather than HR-heavy.
Start with the competencies you already have
Assess the high-performance capability requirements to be successful in every role within your organisation. If you’re short on time, pick the roles that have the largest impact to your businesses performance. Is that Sales, Client Success Managers, Front Line Managers, and your Call Centre team?
From there, figure out which of these capabilities your current team has and whether it is in sufficient quantity or quality to do the job well. If not, can you develop the skill(s) and program around it? Or, are the people without these capabilities simply not right for the role? In either scenario, there is a path to set and manage toward success of the business.
Regarding assessment of your current workforce, a well-developed talent management system can provide good insight into what your people can do well. This information can be made available through learning completion, capability assessments, performance reviews, peer feedback and other areas registered within a talent management system. Psychometric tests can help identify behaviours and characteristics of your people, but often require costly interpretation by professionals which in the end is difficult to scale and subjective anyway. The net is to know what skills and behaviours drive performance in a role and develop a content strategy to get your people there.
Learning benefits both business and employee
When things get tough, pressure typically shows the weakest parts of your organisation first. By the same token, this is where skill deficiencies are likely to show up, exposing those workers ill-equipped, unable or unwilling to go on expanding with their roles.
But why wait for a crisis to deal with these employees?
Studies also demonstrate that workers are keen to embrace flexible, personalised training that helps progress their career development. LinkedIn’s 2016 Talent Trends survey identified lack of opportunities for advancement as the main reason for Australians to leave their job (46%), with dissatisfaction with work environment or culture showing up as 36%.
By bringing the two together – meaningful learning options for employees that are aligned with the business’s broader goals – you are effectively killing two birds with one stone.
What should you be looking for?
In the current business environment, qualifications and experience may be less valuable to an employer than a range of transferable skills and behavioural attributes.
A candidate with strong emotional intelligence, for example, may be rated more highly for a customer service role than a candidate with more experience but less empathy.
For each role, you need to ask:
- What hard and soft skills are needed?
- Does the incumbent have these skills?
- If not, does the incumbent have the capacity to change?
- Is it worth our while to develop them?
- If so, what content strategy will achieve this?
What training can you employ?
A blend of collaborative, experiential and social learning can be used to engage workers in interactive programs offering a range of virtual, simulated and video options.
Promote empathy. Use mindfulness techniques, discussion and mentoring to help an extrovert employee listen more closely to customers and understand their mindset.
Manage conflict. Use role play, experiential videos and coaching to help call centre workers manage tricky customers and ‘defuse’ heated situations.
Encourage engagement. Use Facebook, customer reviews and comment sessions for onboarding and development of company culture and values.
By leveraging your learning program to identify and fill skill gaps, you are far more likely to reach your company’s long-term goals.