Competency Model Best Practices for Succession Planning
In our previous publications we discussed what succession planning is and why it is important as well as how to go about communicating it to staff. Execution of a succession plan however lies in the competencies of the organization as well as the key positions held by individuals.
Competencies used in succession planning link and align an organization’s core competencies (strategic strengths) to job competencies. They help to define high potential employees, clarify future and present competencies and help to develop multi-rater assessments that can be tailored to the culture of the company. So what should a competency model include?
First, the best competency models for succession incorporate assessments to help determine an individual’s capabilities for leadership, adherence to the organization’s values, and capacity for development and learning in addition to performance outcomes. This takes into consideration, preparatory experiences (what one has done), organizational knowledge (what the person knows), behavioural competencies (what they are capable of), and success “derails” and personal attributes (what one is).
Second, competency models align behaviour with organizational strategy and values. They should translate general messages about a company’s strategic direction and culture change into specific behaviours desired for individual performance.
Competency models should also take the value of customer experience and the ability to maintain customer trust, and orientation. Think about it, the best leaders may not have direct one on one interaction with a customer, but they certainly listen and respond with empathy to customer issues or ideas and acknowledge the contributions of a customer in a manner that maintains esteem through the leadership of people. Competency models also cultivate strategic customer relationships and ensure that the customer perspective is the driving force behind all “value-added” business activities. Competencies that drive customer value would define and describe key actions a person would exhibit when effectively displaying this competency.
The True Purpose and Role of Competency Models in Succession Planning Drive:
- Culture Change
- Training and Development
- Recruitment and Selection
- Skill Analysis
- Business Objectives and Competitiveness
- Career path development
- Clarity of Role
- Integration of HR Strategy
Ideally, how many competencies should you have when building a competency model?
Ten to fifteen competencies are sufficient to drive vision, mission and values in any organization. Remember, these are the core of your business. They should touch on interpersonal skills, leadership skills, business/management skills, and personal attributes. Here are the top 12 that companies use:
- Customer Focus
- Planning and Organizing
- Commercial/Business Awareness
- Developing others
- Analytical Thinking
- Building Relationships
Keep in mind however, that using too many core competencies or not being consistent with them throughout your organization can cause chaos as people operate differently. When you are developing the core competencies, think of the values that your organization lives by, what you expect all employees at every level to embrace and what behaviours demonstrate them.
What else should one consider when using competency models to succession plan?
1. Pipeline Readiness
To develop the succession plan, be pipeline ready by having the following defined:
- A list of positions under consideration for succession.
- An agreement among decision-makers about what is required for each position.
- A list of who’s ready and why.
- A list of who will be ready soon and their developmental needs and what actions will be taken to close performance gaps.
2. Position Readiness
- Organize groups of individual competencies into competency models.
- Identify the essential skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics needed for successful performance on the job.
- Demonstrate the key behaviors and skills identified and developed are proven indicators of success.
- Identify key traits of top performers.
3. Behaviour Readiness
- What skills, knowledge, and characteristics are required to do the job?
- Identify what behaviours have the most direct impact on performance and success on the job.
- Ensure that all interviewers are looking for the same capabilities and characteristics.
- Ensure that decision-makers focus on characteristics relevant to success.
Many organizations use 360-degree feedback to assess the strengths of individuals, and 360s are a great practice. However, when using them, ensure that they focus on key behaviours necessary to do the job and give feedback that focuses on the competencies that are crucial to success. This feedback provides a method for assessing a candidate’s current competencies and future-potential.
Who should be on the Competency Model Team?
- CEO and/or other executives
- Human Resources Director
- Consulting Psychologist
- Executive Coach
After the Competency and Succession Plan are developed what’s next?
- Test the model by conducting surveys – distributed to those elected for succession
- Analyze the data and refine the model if necessary
- Validate the model to correlate the competencies with the top performers
- Finalize the model
Succession planning may sound like a lot of work however, having it in place for operating your business when your there and when you are gone is a long-term solution for creating a sustainable business!