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Competency, Enablers, HR Strategy

The Future Challenges for the HR Practitioner

Before considering what the key skills for HR practitioners in the future will be, it is essential to identify the future challenges for the HR service.

The role of HR is changing as a result of many influences. These include: globalisation resulting in increased competition; a change to service- and consultative-approach; demographic trends evidenced by falling birth rates and extended life expectancy. These trends affect the labour market and have resulted in skill shortages in specific areas. The HR practitioner needs to understand the impact of these factors on his/her organisation.

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Competency, Workforce Planning

Building the Muscles of Your Workforce

Running improvement projects in a wide variety of service organisations over the last couple of years, I had to relearn what I thought I had a good grasp of already. I had to restudy the basic drivers of productivity and process efficiency. Yes, it is certainly possible to drive productivity by process changes. Yes, IT can help to boost it even further. However, people often greatly underestimate an important source of productivity that we frequently leave untapped – humans. It is not about making your staff run faster to produce more in a certain amount of time. Rather, it is about what your team members do in that same amount of time. It is about their process efficiency.

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Competency, Enablers, Staff Development

Manager as Coach

Coaching is a powerful style of leadership for developing people and enhancing business performance. Especially, with the rapid changes at workplaces, keeping employees’ committed and motivated during tough economic times seems like a tall task, especially after downsizing or programme cutbacks. Hence, it is evident that the very survival and success of any organisation depends on the human capital: people are highly knowledgeable, versatile, innovative and mobile. And, their skills and talents are the currency of competitiveness, and companies who hope to retain their services need to recognise that these individuals expect greater personal choice, autonomy and an active voice in the management of their workplace. A good coach knows that.

"Competencies
Competency, HR Strategy, Innovation, Lean Six Sigma

Beyond HR Data Analytics – Competencies HR Professionals Should Possess

Given today’s need for HR professionals to be strategic business partners, to be a ‘Voice of Conscience’ to the CEO as well as champion for the employees. Those with background in proven management methodologies and tools have a great advantage. HR Professionals who can present their business case for HR strategies and interventions with a compelling return on investment, supported by rock-solid data, will be well respected and regarded. Understanding and using HR data analytics including basic statistics to convey messages goes a long way. Making proper use of HR data may help to identify drivers for staff satisfaction, staff turnover or staff engagement.

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BPR, Competency, Innovation, Leadership, Staff Development

Cultivating an Improvement and Innovation Mindset

Working with management teams of our clients often takes them away from their business for a few days. They frequently get in touch with their teams at home. Sometimes I involuntarily eavesdrop their part of the conversation. “How is it going? Is everything ok?” are common questions they ask their teams. When they get some kind of “yes” they seem satisfied.

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Competency, HR Strategy, Lean Six Sigma, Workforce Planning

Excuse Me, Why Should HR Know About Six Sigma?

A friend recently spoke at an HR Conference on a competency development roadmap for Six Sigma professionals. During the break, a few participants went up to him and asked him what Six Sigma is. Only then it occurred to him that not every HR person is familiar with well known basic principles and management practices contributing to business performance and leadership development.

Career Development, Competency, Enablers, Leadership, OD, Staff Development

The Power of Your Career Vision

“Uwe, what is your career vision?” was Steve’s first question during my job interview many years ago. As a German I was not really prepared for this kind of question. In the German language the word for career is “Karriere”, which is reserved for someone with outstanding professional accomplishments like Franz Beckenbauer, Robert Bosch or Angela Merkel. This kind of people “machen Karriere”, i.e. have a career. Therefore, I had not spent any minute to think about my career vision, let alone having a career dialogue. I was puzzled by his question, mumbled something but could not answer for a while.

Career Vision - How Career Dialogue Changed my Life

Where to? Is your Career Vision clear?

Career Vision?

However, Steve’s question got me thinking. My thoughts went beyond the usual culprits when it comes to career like ensuring a good life for my family, getting my kids on the right track and – from time to time (Germans don’t want to be caught doing this too often) – enjoying life. Steve was nice enough to help me with some very simple yet powerful questions like ‘What is your passion?’ or ‘How do you think you can contribute best?’ or ‘From all the jobs you have done so far, in which one did you find most satisfaction?’

Be Careful, what you wish for

“I would like to work in Asia” I said with a smile after considering our conversation and my responses. And, I had no doubt that Steve must have found my answer and the explanation I gave him highly amusing. Furthermore, I was absolutely sure that this was the last time we had spoken about this topic. Yet, I found his question a nice new touch during my job interview. I was especially intrigued by the fact that this was my first job interview that did not really evolve around his company but much more on me as a person. Much later he revealed that he knew that my knowledge and skills are exactly what he needed. He just wanted to find out whether I would “fit in” and could grow with the company.

Some years later I was sitting together with Steve going through my appraisal. As usual this was serious yet always a very nice chat in a totally relaxed atmosphere. We almost never held this kind of discussion in the office. We usually met in a restaurant or hotel. At the end he asked me “Uwe, are you ready for Asia?” and explained that our company had decided to go East with management consulting and they wanted me to start this journey if I still had this career vision. A few months later, I arrived at my new home in Singapore.

Conclusion

There are numerous articles showing survey data and research results about one very important driver for employee retention: career planning and development. As a result, more and more organisations make career planning part of their performance appraisal cycle. However, for some it does not go far beyond the template with fields for short-term and long-term career aspiration. Out of all the supervisors I have experienced myself, only one was up to the task.

Having a fruitful career dialogue needs preparation and skills, especially on the side of the supervisor. A Career Exploration Studio for both, supervisors and staff, is a powerful enabler for a quality career dialogue. Knowing someone’s Career Anchor or Personality Profile will help guiding him in the right direction. Supporting this person with adequate development options beyond training such as mentoring, project work, job rotation etc. ensures that his career vision becomes reality over time.

A side effect will be that you have a much better visibility of your staff’s next move.

Cases, Competency, OD, Service, Staff Development

Why Competency Framework? Isn’t SOP Enough?

“Why do we need a Competency Profiling?  We have SOPs. That should be enough” was one of the statements I heard from a colleague. Here is some rational explaining why there is usually an added value in having competencies defined in addition to Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

When SOP is in Place

Spending some days in Nanjing, the former capital of China, is enjoyable. People are nice, work is fun, food is outstanding and my hotel is awesome. Nowadays, the service in most hotels in China is world class.

Competency Profiling

Competency Profiling starts with Understanding the Job

Monday morning I make my way to the restaurant, expecting my usual sumptuous breakfast. I am greeted with a smile and with the usual dialogue:

“Good morning, sir. Your room number, please” requests the waitress with a sweet smile. I answer 1326.

“Smoker or non-smoker?” I opt for the first one.

“Tea or Coffee?” I answer this one as well and start toasting my bread.

On Tuesday morning, it is nice to meet the same waitress with the same sweet smile.

“Good morning, sir. Your room number, please” she wants to know again. I did not expect her to remember, of course.

“Smoker or non-smoker?” I answer as well.

“Tea or Coffee?” I answer this one, irritated.

Wednesday morning the same waitress, the same questions.

On Thursday and Friday exactly the same procedure.

I am very sure it was always the same girl. And, I am very sure I was always myself staying in the same room, being violent non-smoker who always likes coffee with milk in the morning. And I would bet she must have recognised me from Tuesday onwards. I just assume she was following her procedure and was not willing to think one step beyond.

She knew her procedure. No doubt. Even with a smile. However, I gave her a not so pleasant rating when I checked out. She was the wrong person for the job.

After Competency Profiling – SOP and Competency Framework Come Together

A friend mentioned the following story to me.

She arrived in her hotel in Myanmar on Sunday in order to work the following week. The hotel was ok. It was clean and nice but not really comparable to hotels she was used to. She went for breakfast on Monday morning and was greeted by the waiter. The waiter asked the usual questions that seemed to come from the worldwide handbook for hotel waiters. This waiter, dressed in a not perfectly clean suit, was not too busy so that he started a small talk with my friend.

“How did you sleep”, was one of his questions – in starter English. And my friend hesitated but replied truthfully that her night was not that good. Just by the way, she mentioned that her pillow was too hard.

When she returned from her client meeting, she was truly surprised. On her bed she found two additional pillows with different height and filling. Exactly what she needed. I am sure this little deed resulted in a nice tip for the waiter upon check-out.

Competency Profiling - Competency Framework and SOP Working Together

Competency Framework and SOP Working Together

We do not know what the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for the waiter in this hotel says – if they have an SOP. I do not believe it instructs him to do what he did for my friend. If he got an SOP it was surely for waiters, not for chamber maids.

Conclusion

SOPs describe how a task has to be performed – often step by step. Competencies describe knowledge and skills needed to perform this task. Additionally, they formulate requirements towards attitudes to apply knowledge and skills. Competencies describe WHAT it takes to complete a job successfully with the “HOW” to do it. This HOW is of less importance when the job is about repairing a car, for example. However, it is of paramount significance if the performance has to be shown in the service line of business.

SOPs and competencies combined can help delivering the best results. Job competencies often take over the instructional task of SOPs in case SOPs are lacking substance or don’t exist at all. If it serves the purpose, why not? Investing in Competency Profiling may add value to performance management as well.

Performance is achieved through application of knowledge and skills with the right attitude. The waitress in Nanjing did her job, but was lacking exactly this attitude whereas the waiter in this second class hotel in Yangon did. He displayed competencies we could summarise with Customer Orientation, Collaboration and Teamwork as well as Alignment with Organisational Values.

He sincerely listened to customer needs and translated them into actions. This attitude is completely unlike the usual “How are you?” for which no one really wants an answer. Furthermore, he showed a great degree of Collaboration and Teamwork by helping his colleagues to satisfy the needs of their customers – beyond his own scope of work. And, he exhibited his organisational values, probably without even knowing.

His mind-set made the difference between poor rating and commendation by customers.

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