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The Competency Evolution: Our Point of View

For decades, “competencies” have been used to inject research-based language into organizations as a way to differentiate what drives performance. However, the world of work has changed dramatically since their introduction, and is continuing to evolve! This is not a groundbreaking point of view. However, the past decade has seen a rapid increase in innovations in the world work that we have not encountered before. Pandemics. Work from anywhere models. Introduction of artificial intelligence. Flattened organizational structures. Employee pursuit of meaning. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion emphasis. Increased global competition. Technological innovations. Increased use of teams. External groups control on internal outcomes (i.e. social media) …and more.

As background, a competency is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently and in an organization; lists of competencies have been used to defined success for positions, to provide developmental focus to employees, to launch assessments, and inform succession planning. Practitioners can simultaneously acknowledge the value that competencies provide, yet are fatigued by their complexity, theoretical framing, and the constant need to educate others on the topic.

This movement started when our co-founder, Robert Eichinger (and Michael Lombardo) founded Lominger® in 1991 based upon their work at the Center for Creative Leadership®. Within a short period of time their 67-competency library was being used in organizations across the globe!

The World of Work has Changed: Competencies Need to Advance

The time is now for the approach to competencies to be disrupted, progressed and advanced to meet tomorrow’s talent management needs. As you scan the business management environment over the past decades, you don’t have to look far to find examples of organizations transforming industries. Netflix disrupted movie rental business and cable company models. Apple disrupted the way that we access music and interact with our phones. Zoom has accelerated the way that we conduct work every week.

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“Love them or hate them, most organizations use competency frameworks – but often they are decried by managers and staff. Is it time to shake them up, give them a different name and get them adding more value?” (Ayoubi) –HR ZONE

What We Have Learned

TalentTelligent was founded by Robert Eichinger and Roger Pearman to consolidate their lifetimes of learning and advance talent practices. Throughout the decades of running Lominger, and using competency-based approaches with their clients, they heard consistent feedback on the application of behavior libraries on development and performance. In the beginning, competencies gave organizations a common language to use to build a talent management infrastructure. However, given that competencies were broadly applied (1 list for the entire organization), they did not differentiate between the unique work world that a CEO operates in, versus what a front-line worker experiences. Ultimately, the level that your employees work within matters, and the behaviors they need to exhibit to drive effectiveness are unique. Ultimately, this is common sense, yet the models created years ago do not account for this uniqueness.

Levels Matter

Ample evidence shows that today’s organizations have 3 unique work worlds that employees experience. The world of a Leader. The world of a Manager. The world of an Individual Contributor. Each are unique. Each require differentiated behaviors to be effective. This primary driver is behind our work at TalentTelligent. We have built level specific performance (behavior based) libraries for each of these areas of focus so that you can create success profiles that meet tomorrow’s talent challenges. Each success profile you create is customized to your context using a 60-year-old best practice process of card sorting, brought to life in a virtual environment. The result?

  • You now have the ability to conduct more focused interviews using our Hello! Interview Material.
  • You now have the ability to develop your employees where they sit using customized Develop-It-Yourself (DIY) content that matches what they experience day in and day out.
  • You now have the ability to conduct 360 degree survey’s to provide nuanced developmental feedback to ALL employees.
  • You now have the ability infuse your succession planning process with a common language of leadership that is simple to use.

The Time is Now: We are Moving Beyond Competencies

The competency movement has been great. It has been useful. It was built by our Founders! But…the world has changed. Employees have changed. The time is now to advance this practice to get more focused on what drives outcomes at ALL levels with specificity using Roles and Practices. Rest assured, we have done all the heavy lifting so that you can use talent tools that are simple, scalable, and ensure you are self-sufficient in their use. Let’s partner today.