Taking a strategic approach to your competency development will drive more value for your business
There is a lot of advice available to help HR professionals conduct competency development, but there is less guidance on how to ensure this investment provides real strategic value to your business, through careful alignment with the longer term goals of your business.
This blog post is the second in a series of three, where we help you answer questions such as ‘why does our strategy need competency development?’, ‘to whose performance do we want to apply this development?’, and ‘how do we want to use these competencies?’ and in doing so, strengthen the link between what your people are doing on the ground, the business results you need today, and the successful execution of your business’s strategy tomorrow.
In the first blog post we wrote about what changes are needed to drive your business and execute your strategy approaching an answer to the first question: Why does our strategy need competency development? In this blog post we look closer at ‘to whose performance do we want to apply this development?’
Strategic Choice 2: Whose performance most strongly drives your business and supports your strategy?
Competencies are usually used to closely align individuals’ performance with the drivers and strategic priorities of a business. So, it follows that careful consideration should be given to exactly which groups of employees are critical for the success of those drivers and that strategy. It can be a significant undertaking of both money and resources, to apply your competency development to every employee. If you need to instigate a fundamental cultural change, this may be necessary. However, many times, a targeted approach can provide a faster impact on your business’ bottom line. If we take the strategic example of aligning a supply chain to a more customer-centric commercial strategy, which employees will have the most impact upon the success of that strategy?
Many of our manufacturing clients are facing challenges with slow-growth markets, where productivity gains are paramount. They are relying on their Front Line Leaders to directly impact their business drivers of capacity and quality. And this is a strategic choice, to invest in the competency development of these leaders, who need the capabilities to convert their business strategies into operational execution. We support such clients to develop five specific competencies; communicating to engage, being a role model, leading high performing teams, growing their team’s capacity for change, and exercising value-based leadership.
Once you are clear on which employee groups will drive the most value for your strategy, you can identify what they need to do differently and/or more of, to best drive performance and execute strategy. For example, when the UK utilities company, British Gas, was faced with a serious performance crisis, the new leadership team looked at sources of value and identified three. One was the customers who used large amounts of electricity and paid regularly through direct debit. They enabled their customer service teams with the capabilities to focus on new customer retention activities such as assisting with home moves, and their customer attrition halved.