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GE Brings Skills to Life

November 18, 2001
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Related Topics: Behavioral Training, Basic Skills Training, Featured Article
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Today, there's no shortage of ideas about how HR can better manage workers. But amid the hubbub, one thing stands out: organizations that develop an inventory of skills and competencies and manage them effectively usually enjoy a distinct advantage.

At General Electric, which has approximately 313,000 employees worldwide, competency management has become a powerful tool for identifying labor and training needs. In 1995, it created a Six Sigma program (an approach that focuses on specific quality-control criteria) in order to improve performance across the company. "The goal was to create linkage between the business, the customer, and employees," says Russell Baird, leader for quality training and corporate leadership development. GE uses 360-degree assessments and a database to maintain employee profiles.

The company has developed a formal competency-analysis program based on 45 different behaviors deemed essential to the organization's success, including clear business thinking, the ability to manage change, and good interpersonal relationships. It then offers curriculum and training based on the needs of both employees and the company. At that point, hiring managers and trainers focus on the specific behaviors required for a particular competency model.

Ultimately, the program helps the company use resources more effectively and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. "From a trainer's perspective, the data is invaluable. It's possible to structure and present material for specific needs of employees," Baird says. "Developing leaders doesn't just happen. It's something a company has to focus on."

Workforce, November 2001, p. 44 -- Subscribe Now!

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