Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thank you for your nominations!

It has recently come to my attention that I was nominated by a few fans of my books on teaching activities and people who have attended my conference presentations as one of the top management thinkers in business today. Thank you for your acknowledgement! It is humbling to even be considered for such an honor.


Price of Admission

When you review a set of competencies you should be able to quickly pick out that some represent things that one knows, some represent things that one can do, some represent things that someone has accomplished, some represent personality traits, and some represent innate ability or strengths based on personal preferences. Because you cannot train or develop certain competencies you must hire for them. These are the 'price of admission' competencies.
First, there are certain knowledge and skill competencies that are commodities. So many people have these competencies that you have no intention of teaching them to a new employee. Examples of commodity competencies include how to use a computer mouse or how to fluently speak a language. These skills should be readily available in the general talent pool. Don't hire anyone that lacks these commodity competencies.
Second, there are certain competencies that one cannot develop or learn quickly. In fact, they may be practically innate. Only a life-altering incident is likely to quickly change the candidate's competencies in these areas. These include aptitudes and personality traits. You should not discriminate against candidates who have physical or other limitations that are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unless you have a very compelling case that shows how it is not possible for you to make special arrangements that mitigate the impact of that limitation. There are very few challenges that your company should not be able to accommodate so this is probably not going to happen. However, if you identify that it is critical to have someone in a role that is an effective active listener, you had better create behavioral interview questions and a simulation that will highly the likelihood that the candidate is able to listen. You are not going to teach someone to listen after you hire them...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Facilitated Job Analysis Meeting

At the core of any usable human capital management system is a set of competencies that drive the activities that lead to desired results. The goal is to have the right people (those with the right aptitude, knowledge, experience, skills, abilities, and traits) doing the right work at the right time the right way. If all of these factors have been optimized then your organization will achieve superior results. Tieing this concept to Kaplan and Norton's balanced scorecard, employees that know or have access to timely information can efficiently and effectively execute the company's processes, which leads to customer engagement and loyalty, which drives the bottom line. There are a lot of research papers (of course some are self-serving white papers created by vendors of various products, but many other independent studies also exist) that can be referenced to see actual results from real companies.

The simplest method for identifying the most critical competencies requires you to work backwards toward them using the following job analysis methodology:

1. Bring together team leaders and top performers from the position in question.

2. Have that group define the most critical objectives for anyone in that role. Typically, this facilitated discussion is best guided by reviewing the balanced scorecard methodology. Most positions will include objectives in the following areas:

- timely and accurate completion of core duties, including adherence to laws, rules, guidelines, processes, etc., (outcome is nearly flawless execution of duties);

- effective establishment and management of customer expectations and perception (outcome is an engaged and loyal internal or external customer);

3. Once the group has agreed upon the top 3 to 5 objectives have them focus on one objective at a time and identify the most critical activities that someone in the position should flawlessly execute to achieve the best possible outcomes against that objective. Some activities may impact results against more than one objective. However, list that activity under each affective objective.

4. After the activities have been defined dig into each activity and document the most importance competencies that will lead to effective and efficient execution of that activity. Competencies should include experiences, knowledge, skills, aptitude, abilities, and traits, including personality characteristics. Again, these may be repeated across several activities, but go ahead and list them under each activity that the competency supports.

5. Define each competency so that it is clear exactly what is meant by the lable that each competency was given.

6. Adjourn the group, but prepare them for future meetings during which you will ask them to help define metrics that will tell employees whether they are meeting those objectives or not, leverage their collective intelligence when piloting training for leaders of teams that include members in the role that was analyzed, and other related discussions.

In a later post I will share techniques on how to segregate the competencies into price of admission or new hire training categories, how to assess existing employees against the competencies that you fleshed out and defined. I will also help you identify how to turn the activities into training for new hires and the entire job analysis into training for team leaders.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. I hope to inpart upon you practical strategies and activities that will make you a more effective and valuable member of the leadership team in your organization (or a more value-added consulting or HR resource).

Let me know what you think. Feedback and constructive debate are always welcome!