Friday, 5 October 2007

Competencies - the core of HCM programmes

One of AMR Research's other conclusions is that organisations should place competencies at the core of their HCM programmes:

“Competencies, or the individual characteristics and qualities that personnel exhibit as well as the specific skills required for success in a position, are the backbone of sophisticated strategic HCM, but are often one of the last things companies consider. For enterprises with an HCM blank slate, we encourage you to start with competencies because they can inform every other HCM business process you undertake.”

While there is generally much less focus on competencies across the HR profession than there was a decade or so ago, this recommendation still makes a lot of sense. Infact, I think everyone already realise it. But I'm not sure many organisations, or HCM systems, do really put competencies at the centre of their approach.

One system that does, although with a more granular and potentially more useful focus on skills, is provided by Infobasis, a provider of a Total Capability Management system (TCM), for whom I am making a presentation next week (one of their Directors, Don Taylor is also presenting on TCM in a Learning Light webinar on Tuesday 16th October).

Don’s white paper explains that TCM provides a means of managing different HR processes holistically with a joint focus on people’s skills and knowledge as the crucial building blocks of an organisation:
“The TCM focus is not to merely ensure that a series of processes can be put together to manage the individual’#s experience within an organisation. Neither is it simply to ensure that these different processes share data, although both of these are important. More fundamentally, it is to ensure that all HR processes are driven by the same priority: ensuring that the organisation is as effective as possible by ensuring it has the right skills in the right place at the right time.”

One build I would make on these approaches is just to suggest that we need to remember that employment is a two-way relationship. It is great to be able to measure and assess someone’s and the organisation’s skills and competencies. But organisations also need to think about what value they are providing to their employees if their relationship is going to be both productive and enduring.

I therefore recommend that organisations think about not just one, but two fundamental frameworks at the heart of the HCM strategy: a skills or competency framework, and an engagement framework that articulates employees’ expectations of their employment relationship, and how well the organisation is doing in delivering against this. Like a skills or competency framework, the engagement framework can be constructed at all different levels in the organisation, from the top, high-level view to each individual employee (at least those identified by the organisation as its most valuable sources of human capital ie its talent).

I’ll come back and post further about this at a later date.


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