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Dear Workforce What Should We Do With Subpar Managers?

How could we develop a set of solid competencies for our managers? Our goal is to measure performance in a methodical, ongoing fashion, paying special attention to developing low performers.
March 16, 2010
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Related Topics: Career Development, Performance Appraisals, Employee Career Development, Dear Workforce
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Dear Looking Out Below:
First, you deserve a shout-out for making the commitment to help your employees improve and develop. Paying this type of individualized attention to people's careers is one of the best ways to ensure employee engagement and retention.

Now to your question: Competencies are those key attributes that employees throughout your workforce need to demonstrate for the company to be successful. If employees are competent in these areas, it is likely they will ably deliver on your organization's strategies. There will be a core set of competencies that apply to everyone (and there may be an additional few that are needed at the senior management ranks).

At a technology company, for instance, innovation may be a competency that everyone is expected to have. The receptionist may demonstrate this competency very differently than the chief technical officer, but it would be important that everyone look for new and better ways to do things. At a pharmaceutical manufacturer, precision may be a competency that is required. Results orientation might be a competency expected in both environments.

An effective way to determine your company's specific competencies is to design a facilitated session with the key leaders. Ask the assembled group:
"If we were delivering perfectly on all our strategies, which behaviors would we see people demonstrating and how would they be acting?"
Compile a list of all the answers. Cull the list to a small number of characteristics that you think have the greatest impact. The final list should have no more than 10 items. This becomes your competency list.

Before you can embed these competencies into your performance and development program, you must be able to measure the difference between someone who is a novice and someone who is a role model for a particular competency.

There is a lot of confusion about how to describe and measure competencies. I think the easiest way to understand it is like this: Someone who is competent in a particular area will have a combination of skill, experience and interest in it. To measure the competency, your organization must be able to outline:

• The skills, behaviors and knowledge needed to be competent.
• The type of experience an employee should get to build the skills, behavior or knowledge.

The third aspect of being competent is having an interest in the area. Interest is not something an employer can design. This will be up to the employee.

Detailed explanations and measures of each competency can be compiled informally by the individual manager, or your company's human resources professionals could build robust competency matrices by job family.

Once the organization has a complete understanding of its competencies and how to measure them, the competencies can be included as part of your regular performance and development program.

SOURCE: Ellen Raim, vice president of human resources, Cascade Microtech, Beaverton, Oregon
LEARN MORE: Tapping the right leaders is a blend of art and science. Even the best leadership training is useful only when the lessons are continually reinforced.
Workforce Management Online, March 2010 -- Register Now!
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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