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Siemens’ Framework for Staff Development


Siemens Shared Services has developed a competency framework not just for recruitment, but also as the basis for staff appraisal and development.

Siemens Shared Services (SSS) provides a portfolio of services, spanning human resources, accounting, infrastructure management, logistics, professional and purchasing services.

In uniting over 150 very different job descriptions under the umbrella of the competency framework, the HR department at SSS faced a major challenge.

HR Officer Claire Bray explains: “There was no existing culture to bring the different and previously autonomous components of SSS together.

"However, we did have a foundation, in the form of the newly-created Vision and Values, so we took the keywords from that and developed a series of competencies.”

These are:
* Continuous improvement
* Enthusiasm and self-motivation
* Flexibility
* Creativity and innovation
* Customer focus
* Empowerment, delegation and coaching
* Decision-making and problem solving
* Communication

SSS uses an employee appraisal process called the Staff Dialogue to evaluate individual performance.

The results of the 2001 Employee Opinion Survey clearly indicated that many employees didn’t find the process worthwhile and even revealed that some employees had never been appraised.

As in many organisations, objectives set at the time of appraisal might not be looked at again, until reviews began the following year.

In addition, objectives set were not always properly defined, contrary to SMART practice.

Some feedback also highlighted that employees felt the process was rather one-sided.

Job Families
To simplify the task, the jobs were allocated to job families, within which most jobholders could see a career development path upwards and thence across into other families, if the right competency levels were in place.

Five job families were created:
* Secretarial – supporting the work of one or more managers or specialists.
* Operative – dealing with physical resources e.g. inventory.
* Administration – processing paper and/or electronic transactions.
* Managerial – managing the resources of the organisation to achieve business goals.
* Specialist – providing advice and/or a service that draws upon expertise in a professional field.

Claire observes: “We involved jobholders in the process of defining the job families, because we wanted to ensure that introducing a competency framework got their buy-in and made sense to them.

"Each job family contains a career development path, with differing levels for each of the behavioural competencies.

"Thus an assistant controller is only required to achieve level 2 in communication, for instance, while a manager must reach level 4."

Job Descriptions
When it came to the actual job descriptions, Claire and her colleagues faced another challenge: “We had a look at all the draft job descriptions and realised not everybody had one.

"If they did, sometimes there were several for the same job; or there was no consistency in the way they were written and formatted - and consistency is one of our core values!

"So, while tidying up the job descriptions, we incorporated the various technical and behavioural competencies into them.”

At this point, Claire and her colleagues started to realise just how much work was going to be involved and, more importantly, that they didn’t have the necessary expertise within their department.

She comments: “Fortunately, I had been along to one of the HR Forums organised by training and recruitment consultancy Masterclass and law firm Boyes Turner.

"I had been very impressed by presentations from the Masterclass team, so I contacted the company – and one another consultancy – to discuss what we wanted to achieve.

"We chose to go with Masterclass, because we felt their designated consultant, Helen Bouchami, had the necessary breadth of experience we needed, and had also worked with similarly structured businesses before.”

The New Competency Framework
Helen’s role in the project began with running some of the employee workshops, to agree the job families and link the competency framework levels to them.

Claire observes: “As the workshops progressed, I was able to take over and run them myself.

"This was fortunate, because we felt the original competency framework, devised before Helen joined the project, wasn’t really working.

"Given Helen’s expertise, it made sense for her to spend time reviewing and redrafting the competency framework instead.

"We’ve always had the eight competencies and we’ve always had five levels, but the way in which the levels are defined has changed.”

Helen made several other major contributions to the project, particularly reworking the 150 job descriptions to harmonise them across the company.

She also put together an online tool for managers – a ‘build a job description kit’ – that provides templates from which to work, and access to similar job descriptions.

This allows new jobs, that are not directly comparable, to be accommodated within the job families and the competency framework.

Management Buy-In
Claire emphasises the importance of the buy-in and support of MD Juergen Maier and the senior management to the success of the new Staff Dialogue process.

“If we developed something that didn’t have the support of our MD or heads of business, it would not ultimately succeed.

"Juergen therefore tasks the heads of business to put certain metrics on their own balance scorecards.

"He will then have regular operational review meetings to see how the businesses are performing against the scorecards, which are broken down into the four quadrants of customers, process, finance and employees.

"Within the employees quadrant, heads of business have to report on how many Staff Dialogues have been completed and how many actions have been completed against set objectives.

"This is powerful, because it ensures that the Staff Dialogues are living documents that aren’t just pulled out once a year.

Completed Staff Dialogue forms are now automatically uploaded into the HR database, eliminating manual input.

Identifying Development Needs
A management report to which the Staff Dialogues upload has also been created, so all a manager has to do is press an upload button and select whose Staff Dialogues are wanted in the report.

The report clearly shows where people are performing, where the biggest gaps are, who is exceeding required performance and what can be done to develop them further and help retain them.

It also provides a training needs analysis, highlighting any areas of concern, particularly which employees have the biggest gaps in their performance and why, and what can be done to help them.


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