January 9, 2023

Implementing Competency Science to Improve Company Culture

Competencies as a System

‍Rather than defining people by their title, resume, or job description it’s crucial to observe abilities and talents beyond what’s on paper. Competencies as a system focus on what people can do, not specified to a certain class or program title. In other words, instead of assuming what basic skills a person has, managers can leverage competencies to tie ability to workplace needs and outcomes. 

Keep in mind that competencies and skills are not the same thing. While skills are vague abilities, competencies include action, skill, level, and context. This level of detail provides incredible accuracy compared to using skills alone. For example, rather than “Microsoft Excel” as a skill, a company implementing competency systems may note something like “Utilizes Microsoft Excel to build financial statements such as balance sheets, cash flows, and income statements in a mid-sized company.” The difference is clear. Competencies provide detail that empower users to accurately map talent.

Using competencies saves employers time and money. Companies that use a competency approach to hiring with a tool like Claira hire employees based on the talents they need, rather than classes or credentials which do not accurately indicate knowledge. It’s like playing moneyball with your workforce. This vastly improves the fit that each employee has in the greater company culture, as they are not set up to fail.

For instance, imagine a company was looking to rebrand their product but knew that they were a little behind on product development. Using competency data, they could quickly identify internal and external talent who were competent in specific needs related to communications and effective marketing strategies, but also possess talent in engineering and more hands-on work.

Corporate Culture as a Whole

Corporate culture is the “collection of values, beliefs, ethics and attitudes that characterize an organization and guide its practices.” It encompasses all of the organization’s employees and unifies everyone under a common goal. Culture empowers employees to connect with one another and empowers the workforce to develop a more familial relationship. 

Sometimes companies are unable to sustain a healthy corporate culture. At times, there are workers who do not seem to get along, or may not be so accepting of everyone and their differing backgrounds. Nevertheless, a healthy corporate culture is represented by a company that functions by accepting everyone and what they stand for.

Blending the Two: Competencies and Culture

Beyond the value of matching the right talent to the right roles, implementing competencies can create a more cohesive corporate culture. This is especially true for firms with a specific goal in mind. For example, if increased open communication and team-oriented tasks are the goal, then companies can hire people with specific competencies in communications, collaboration, and creativity - talents that aren’t spelled out with skills and resumes. By hiring people with shared values, this practice not only allows employees to come across as like-minded with one another, but also improves the rhythm within the company's workforce. 

At times, a corporate culture may not appear cohesive as employees do not get along with each other, or fail to understand and accept one another's beliefs and values. If a company hand-picks a team to complete a project, with each person having the necessary competencies to effectively complete the task, then the group should work well together; the talents needed to finish the project are present so the employees simply need to present their strengths and get to working together. 

By having this structure of competencies within a company, employees will be able to be more accepting of one another's beliefs, values, and attitudes since they know that regardless of whether they may coincide with their own traits, what matters most is that they are working together with the right people who are perfectly proficient in contributing to complete the task at hand, even if at times everyone may not see eye-to-eye.

Job descriptions, skills, and resumes are flawed tools for people management. Using this type of method develops a non-data driven and inaccurate hierarchical atmosphere driven by the flawed idea that classes or titles are perfectly correlated with competencies. In turn, this can add stress and uneasiness among employees causing more arguments and added difficulty to working together to complete a project. However, removing these job titles and resumes and solely focusing on workers' talents allows every employee to shine in one way or another, leveling the playing field and making everyone feel equally as important. In turn, this system allows for increased engagement among the employee workforce as everyone understands they were hand-picked by the company for a specific purpose regardless of the education they received.

Kyra Au
Digital Marketing Associate

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