Talent Development: Encouraging Employee Accountability for Competency Development

Sharlyn Lauby, President, ITM Group
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According to a recent Forbes article, corporate training is on the rise. It’s a clear indicator that our economy is improving and businesses are prepared to invest in their employees. Over the past few years, training has taken a back seat and the lack of corporate training is starting to show in the delivery of customer service and a crisis in leadership. Now with the increased talk of a skills gap, the focus on training couldn’t happen soon enough.

But when we talk about training and learning, today’s HR professionals need to build learning environments that are about more than formal classroom training. Employees must be able to identify and develop their own competencies, being those measurable knowledge, skills, and abilities that are essential for business success. To help your employees understand the competencies for their role, here are a few places to start:

Does the organization have a competency model in place? Competencies are used in developing job descriptions, performance management, training and development, and career development. It may not be clearly identified as a “competency model”, but the information should be available in some format.

Have the competencies been communicated to employees? The first step to holding employees accountable for their own competency development is communicating what those competencies are. Employees should understand, and frankly be able to tell their managers, what they are being held accountable for.

Are employees currently evaluated on the competencies? There should be a clear link between competencies and performance. If an employee is being asked to develop a skill, they should know the reason. Otherwise, employees won’t understand why they need to learn a skill.

Depending upon the answers to these questions, the company might have some work to do. Once employees know the competencies for career success, then they can focus on setting goals to refine or improve their skills. A few ways that the company can guide and support an employee’s competency development include:

  • Ask employees to include competencies in their annual goals. Again, competencies should be tied to performance. So there should be a connection between skill development and performance goals.
  • Employees should identify one learning opportunity for each goal. During the goal setting exercise, ask employees to include anything they might need to learn in order to achieve the goal. It might be a software program or a new process.
  • Support informal learning opportunities such as social, mobile, and collaborative. Organizations have a tremendous amount of in-house knowledge. It’s time to take full advantage of what collaborative efforts can bring.
  • Follow-up with employees regularly to encourage commitment to their development. Managers have an important role in helping employees develop their own competencies. They need to support and encourage the effort.

Companies today have a wonderful opportunity to develop their workforces. And not do it all inside a classroom. But it does take educating employees and holding them accountable for their own competencies.

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