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Developing core competencies in organisations


Report of online workshop led by Spencer Drain, 29 September 1999

Tell me what you're doing around core competencies
At present in the CAB Service, we are developing and introducing core competences entitled:
Acheieving results, Co-operating and collaborating
effective communication
promoting equality and fairness
customer focus
and learning and improving
Do you tie core competencies into an NVQ framework?
Hi Brenda - we've just got going
Spencer, can you say more about the relationship between core comp. and NVQ
each core competence is given a level and the person (depending on their role within the organistaion) has to demonstrate
competence at the level appropriate to their role
Who defined the CCs?
Hi Sheyman - welcome
Hello everyone,
The core comeptencs are out of the NVQ framework and simplified to be short statements.
Hi Brenda, Hi sheyman
Along side each level is a set of negative indicators which help staff to self assess
hi chris
Welcome Chris
Hello Tim, thought I would drop in and see how these workshops work
Everyone - just feel free to join in. Type questions and comments in the long box beneath the text window and hit Enter
I'll carry on
Chris - how do your staff respond to the idea of core competencies?
There is a good deal of confusion around what core competencies actually are - I would be interested to hear how others define the term
can I ask everyone - do your organisations have a values statement?
No, my company doesn't
which is endorsed and promoted by senior manaement?
We have a values statement in our training consultancy business but not yet in Sift
Hello, are organizations generally accepting NVQ competencies or are they wishing to devise their own?
A bit of both Brenda.
Are NVQ competencies used at managerial levels also?
My view is that values statements are 'live' documents which teams need to work on together, not have imposed by managers
very true - this is why i think core competences are a good idea
Sheyman, have you seen the MCI management standards?
Tim- i am afraid I havent
they bind all levels of staff by ensuring that each staff member demonstrates core competences at different levels
MCI standards - phone 0171 872 9099 to get details, or email me later
Tim- thank you, I will mail you
So Spencer, how in practice do you get staff to engage with a values statement?
When a company has a certain culture - it is important (in my opinion) that each staff member can demonstrate how outside of their particlaur role, they contribute to the overall business objectives
Agreed - the problem often lies in poor communications within orgs
Spencer- how can you ask them to demonstrate this, lets say during their performance appraisals?
this is why, say, having a core competence of promoting equality and fairness is needed at all levels.
In the first instance, demonstrating competence can be done in a variety of ways
namely - through appraisals
supervision sessions
team meetings etc
Related to values, I've been working with some orgs on Ethics statements - ranging over personal relationships, abuse, money,
welcome Ben
Spencer- how would you measure this in practical terms?
Is anyone else developing Ethics policies?
Tim- a statement is in our staff handbook -only
I have done in the past - and at present we have a clear policy on such issues
Tim, What is done with such policies once they have been created
To answer your question Sheyman - all staff need to be trained in assessment - firstly to self asssess then to assess other
What ideas do you have for engaging new staff in ethics/core competencies at selection or induction?
I would find it useful for all of you to say which sector/org you are working in?
Is it advisable to develop ones own core competencies that can be assessed
I am working in the telecommunications sector-namely Cable Television
Chris - the problem will all 'statements of good intent' is they can gather dust. I argue that they must be 'live' documents, discussed at team meetings, staff workshops, etc - and regularly!
My company provides consultancy to e-contact and call centre business across all business sectors
Most of my clients Spencer are public or voluntary sector - values are meant to be important!
I agree -- values statments should be live and reviewed at regular intervals
Are you suggesting that values are less important outside of your sectors
possibly - because making a profit is normally at the top of the agenda
but not always
That raises issues about what motivates staff - money, achievement, feeling good
To make profit, sustainable profit requires absolute adherance to values and of course it is values that underpoin competencies
Chris- what if you are working within a monopolistic market, faced with no competition?
I like that point about values underpinning competencies, Chris
You are unlikely to always be in this situation - IBM might be a good example and there are lots of others
The world it keeps on turning
I am sure you will all agree that the best assest an organistaion has is it's staff
The issue I have with values, competencies etc is that 'we' always make it to damn complicated!
There are plenty of managers who devise quick-fix lists of competencies without ever asking the basic questions about purpose and values
if the organisation has a values statement (or call it what you will) then all staff must be able to demonstrate how they help the org achieve and sustain
True, very true - and thee is little benefit in that appraoch
Surely one recurring theme is that the Process of devising values statements is often more poerful than the Product
Chris - core competences can be as complicated or as uncimplicated as you want to make them
What we have done is devise a set of 6 core comepetences
Mmmm, that is true - however, the temptation to add just another one competency, and then another and so on is often difficult to resist
each competence has 3 levels - a, b and C
chris- I agree, I heard that anything between higher than 6 is too much
not true - other competences relate specifically to a persons role
Couraulds have 18 Management Competencies which they utilise which I think might be perhaps overkill.
spencer -what about those three levels?
So, Spencer, you're starting to differentiate between a set of org. competencies and a diverse set of individual competencies
As I was saying - each core competence (6) has 3 levels - and depending on your role, it will depend the level you have to demonstarte.
an exaample -
Has anyone read the book 'Competencies @ Work' by the Spencers published in the USA by Wileys. It's the best work I have come across in reference to Competencies.
ahh, now this touches on my comment a while back - what are CORE competencies
Under our core competence of 'ACHIEVING RESULTS' - Im sure you agree that all staff have to achieve results - some more than others
say a clerical officer would not have to achieve the same level of results and the MD or CEO
A clerical officer would help achieve and contricute to performnace indictators but the MD would set them!!
What does the group feel about NVQ competencies and there use in organisations?
NVQs are good if assessed and verified well
the same with any way of ensuring quality
I can see what you're trying to achieve Spencer - but is it hard to find and specify CC for the whoel org?
and even if you can does the benefit justify the effort?
not really because each role also has role specific competences
What doe people think of the idea of linking competence to PAY???
If the competencies are cealrly defined then top idea
I believe in this concept - in fact I am trying to introduce it at work
You've touched on one of my hobby horses there !
So you recieve a mark for how good you are in each competence and a cumulative total which relates to the companies pay budget?
Isn't the issue whether competencies are about input or output
chris, something like that -
The link to pay can be dangerous - a number of US corporates are starting to move away from this
In essence wont it depend on how reliable the marking system is and how substantial the benefits are?
Say, if I am demonstrating competence at the level defined for my role and another person with the same defined level is not - should this be linked to pay??or
Tim- then how do you motivate them to rate and assess competenicies?
My own view would be yes suppose your task or role does not require the same level of competence how might you differentiate then?
The problems arise when the staff member disagrees with the competency assessment
Spencer - each similar job role or family shouls be assessed on the same competence
as Ive said, each role must have a defined level of core competence
If competencies are about outputs then this is relatively simple - the problem is defining inputs (behaviours)
otherwise how can you measure it???
So your pay is only assessed using the core competencies not the variable competencies?
Attached to 'What your looking for' (the competence) is also a set of negative indicators
Garry - I am talking about behavioural competencies not work based competencie
garry - not so, pay is linked to core and role specific competence
Observation - the volume of debate increases whenever you mention pay -:)
Suppose Jim works in accounts and Jane work in marketing, they do different jobs. Are we saying that all competencies are equitable in terms of the effort needed to be affective in them?
Let me put things in simple terms - How do you know whether all of your staff are working within the values that the org has?
Garry - no. Each competence they are assessed on will have a higher weighting than the other
Via observation, assessment, involvement and feedback from int/ext customers.
I understand - a weighted system to ensure equitable distribution. The weighting process must be difficult?
Spencer- thats just it, they are not!
Garry - I have my finance manager helping me out there!
So introduce core competences - this (intime) will ensure that all levels of staff are working within a core competence framework which underpins the values of the org
Suppose one of the competencies is ?Concern for Impact? and the other is ?Face to Face Interpersonal skills? Do you sit down and decide which one should carry the ligher or lower weighting and ensure it fits within the bigger framework?
Garry - depending on which competence is important for that particular job -yes
Sorry guys, computer blip, missed the last bit
II?m not being obtuse here I?m just very interested. What if the competencies very in importance (as they will) according to the role, doesn?t this become a mathematical nightmare?
Well, nice chatting Ive got to go - if anyone wants to callme further to discuss - my number is: 0973 892259
My current job is Head of Training for the Citizens Advice Bureau Service (National)
bye - well talek later Tim
Thanks Spencer - I'll be in touch
Thanks to all for taking part. Next online workshop is next week.
oodbye all


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