Daily Archives: December 5, 2011

CBTM #4: Mind the Gap – Training vs Competencies

Today’s guest post is from Crystal Jones of The Mpower Group and is the fourth in a series of seven posts on Competency Based Talent Management.

In our previous posts we talked about designing your talent management program and implementing a recruiting plan. However, these are only parts of a larger Competency Based Talent Management (CBTM) program. You have hired the people you needed. So what? How can you make sure they are integrated into your organization and are able to hit the ground running, creating the optimum amount of impact? Not only do you need to look at training your existing team, you need to create a training program for new recruits as well.

This sounds well and good (and perhaps a bit easy). However, it is not as easy as it sounds. We have heard from many of our Sourcing / Supply Chain peers, particularly at our last NPX, that they are struggling with their training efforts. Training is completed, but the learning is never adopted. So what can they do to change the results?

Adoption brings us back to our vowels (AEIOU). In the past we have talked about the importance of Adoption, Execution, Implementation, Optimization and Utilization in any organizational effort. However, training is just not about the act of learning (a consonant); it is about adopting and implementing that learning to drive business results. Using the vowels ensures that the people being trained start applying what they learned. Implementing the vowels is the key difference between training people and developing competency.

To effectively turn a training program into competency development, you must have a good understanding of your desired needs. This requires that you start with the strategic direction and objectives of the company and what role your organization will play. This will show you which organizational competencies you need and will give you an understanding of the gaps you have within your organization. Now, the closure of those gaps can be tied directly to the company’s strategic direction and the role your organization will play, adding value not just for individuals, but for the company as a whole. Sending 2-3 people at a time to some public seminar designed for the masses may develop individual competency but it is never going to develop organizational competency.

Your gap closure strategies must follow a multi-faceted approach (coaching / mentoring etc.). Make sure your entire approach is rooted in Adult Learning Theory and has experiential learning as its basic tenet. Making people sit through day long lectures with no ability to actually practice the new behaviours and competencies in a safe learning environment is of little value. In addition, the curriculum must include the strategic competencies found during the initial gap assessment. A program consisting of functional or process skills alone is doomed. The strategic competencies must also be integrated into the core process modules so that people know how to actually deploy the new process.

Your training strategies must look beyond the technical skills and focus on the strategic skills needed to be successful like change management, communication, collaboration, and decision making. Oftentimes these skills are overlooked when training, although they are the most important to organizational success. Anyone can learn to use any process and those are the skills most organizations worry about when hiring and training. However, developing strategic skills can take your team to the next level and have more lasting effects on the group. It takes your group from Best Practices to Next Practices.

Developing the right competencies within your organization is not easy. It takes a lot of thought and energy to train and develop your team. Sometimes closing the gap can make you feel like you are trying to build a bridge across the Grand Canyon. If you start by looking at competency development in terms of AEIOU and strategic alignment, you will no longer need to build a bridge across the gap. You will find that your organization will soar.

In our upcoming posts we will continue to address Next Practices associated with the Competency Based Talent Management lifecycle.

If you are interested in getting involved or would like to follow this topic further, here are a series of critical activities coming up:

  • Release of the results of the Executive Forum we just facilitated at the IACCM Global Forum for Contracting & Commercial Excellence on Talent Management.
  • A major research project to not identify the problem one more time but to identify Next Practices to solve the problems.
  • A webinar with IACCM on CBTM.
  • A White Paper to focus on Next Practices in CBTM.

Please contact Crystal Jones at crystalj <at> thempowergroup <dot> com for more information.