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“ THE ART OF COMPETENCE MAPPING IN INDIA”


Organizations are forced to right size their organization around the core competence in a tight cost driven market for survival. Periodical evaluations of the jobs need to be done to determine the competencies required of the position in managerial and behavioral terms. The competencies determined for bands of organization levels will need to be checked with the incumbents through the Assessment Center technology. Scientifically designed tools are used to surface proficiency levels of incumbent’s potential as business leader to fit in to current and future positions.

Man’s innovations in getting Technology to work have rendered many jobs redundant especially in the Manufacturing of goods where automation is changing the profile of the typical worker. The work of management has multiplied manifold in leveraging on the multitudes of variables that need to be managed along with scant resources that need to be optimized in an environment of complexity and ambiguity. Concepts such as Balanced Score card gets applied to appraise management staff who get paid on meeting minimum standards on a variety of deliverables required.

Specialization has to combine with managerial and behavioral competency to produce results. This phenomenon can well be appreciated by the job specifications that are specified in job advertisements currently. Most middle level positions and invariably senior level positions are always described requiring the candidate to be “ dynamic, with abilities to handle a motivated work force, and lead for business results”. Business orientation is required amongst employees where functional excellence alone does not suffice. This phenomenon of promoting Managers who have two or three related functional experience for General Management positions has been seen in the past 10 years in Corporate India.

Abilities to innovate and take risks and take empowered action rather than rely on hierarchies have become the order of the day. The CEOs insistence on results have quadrupled in intensity so much that Managers can no longer be a processor of information for the head of the Business to take decisions. They need to take upfront decisions and move the growth of the company.

Members are required to contribute towards the functional expectations, managerial requirements as well as in the organization development. Review meetings talk of improvements in budgets and managers get to be assessed on their involvement in Process Improvement Projects undertaken apart from their regular departmental work. In most coordination meetings people are asked to come up with solutions on areas not considered their area of specialization.

Promotability finally hinges on the leadership qualities of spearheading organization wide changes than only on increasing the company’s financial performance.

Organizations have therefore begun to look at the individual’s contribution from a holistic point of view so as to look at what else the employee could offer other than the functional expertise.

The answer to this requires the following questions to be answered

This requires the sieving of each position against the strategic intent of the organization to decide on its Centrality to the business survival and growth.

Since jobs are impacted in intent and content by the events of the company, the position holders’ response and the market /business dynamics, it is important that they are assessed for their relevance and results every few years.

A well-researched job profile would indicate the basic competencies in managerial and behavioral terms to meet the demands and complexities of the position. These are vital for the accomplishment of Business and Organizational goals.

The answer to this lies in the astute design of tools and techniques that surface the latent abilities against the requirements of the core competencies of the position.

This paper brings out a simple, practical and effective method of answering these questions through the state of the art practices in over 10 organizations during the last two years in India.

Defining The Core Jobs

A job evaluation exercise using the following steps need to be done:

1. Defining the core business and the markets served

a. Key success factors of the business. These are processes that need to be controlled and managed in order to be in the chosen business. For example: A wide distribution network with penetration in to towns of less than 50000 populations to be in the FMCG business.

b. Product /Service and market strategy of the company. The strategy pursued by the company to achieve success is another critical input for the purpose of evaluating the job. For example: A strategy of new product development will call for market related competency and will impact positions across R&D, Manufacturing, Marketing and Sales.

c. Current and future competencies required in the organization. In the context of the strategy pursued the company requires vital managerial and behavioral competencies to be possessed in order to handle the responsibilities.

2. Developing an evaluation criteria for assessing the jobs

a. Proximity of the job to the Key Business Process. Each position is evaluated in terms of its impact on the Key Business Process of the company through a point rating system.

b. Impact of the job on the strategic thrust of the company. Similarly each position impacts the specific strategy directly and the strength of its relation to the strategy can be determined again by a point rating.

c. The degree of ambiguity versus the extent of structure the job has to deal with. This is a factor that needs to be seen from the degree of ambiguity the position requires to handle as well as the complexities involved. There fore positions involved in demand forecasting are more critical as they are more complex than say manufacturing operations where the variables are fairly internal and with in control.

d. The time and space implications of the job in terms of its effects in the organization. This implies that there are some positions that have impact with a far-reaching implication like an expansion project than one which have immediate and shallow impact like a shift scheduling in decision-making.

e. Value and volume of the assets managed. This is yet another dimension of the position that cannot be ignored for there are positions that hold trusteeship to assets whose values could spell survival or growth. For example the Maintenance function may hold charge of the asset value of plant and equipment over several million dollars in value.

3. Generating the position profiles of the various jobs

a. Preparing the cluster of positions. This requires that all similar positions delivering similar results may be clubbed together as one cluster. For example a shift engineer position could be manned by a number of people across a variety of sections and holding similar responsibilities.

b. Delineating the discrete levels. In deciding the positions, the discrete levels need to be discriminated by assigning time and space responsibilities for accountability. Thus the shift engineer would hold responsibility over 4-5 lines of assemblies and be responsible for daily production. His senior- Production Manager could be in charge of the whole factory and be responsible for annual production.

c. One to one interviews with the role sets. The role and responsibilities will be adduced through a series of one to one interviews with each role set. The role set will consist of the Role Holder, the immediate superior and the lateral internal/external customer.

4. Job analyzes using the evaluation criteria

It is important to define the evaluation criteria using some or all of the criteria listed above like Degree of ambiguity, assets managed, centrality to the strategy and so on.

a. Core Positions. These criteria will be applied to determine the positions in terms of their impact to the survival and growth in a direct and tangible manner. These positions will deliver results that show up in the balance sheet of the company. For example, the sales and distribution manager’s position directly works on the volume of sales.

b. Leveraging Positions. These are positions that provide a delivery, which can be used by others to achieve quantum results. They may by themselves not generate income or enhance customer values but may impact the Key Process by providing leveraging inputs. For example: the finance function that advises on funds flow and cash flow management

c. Supporting Positions. These are positions that ensure the deliveries to the customer happens internally or externally in a smooth manner and are required for ensuring efficiency of operation. They may not be high on their impact on the strategy and growth of the company but are essential to maintaining the equilibrium of the organization. For example the Personnel function, which maintains the morale and well being of the employees.

d. Statutory Positions. These are positions that are necessary from the regulatory point of view and are watch dog positions that may or may not add immediate value to the profits or growth of the company. That it is required by law is sufficient raison d’etre. For example Company Secretary.

Determining the core competencies of these jobs

1. Competency Requirements

Through the one on one interview the key responsibilities of each position would get firmed up.

These responsibilities require a few vital competencies of functional, management and behavioral Skills. These are defined as

• Technical or Functional competency. Described as the Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes required of the position

• Generic competencies

• Managerial. Described as the Planning, Decision making, Coordination and other capabilities required in the position

• Entrepreneurial. Are the abilities of risk management, visioning, innovation among others

• Behavioral. These are capabilities of relating to others through conflict management, team building, assertiveness and so on.

• Leadership. Denotes the quality of direction, the initiative and ownership that one holds in discharging one’s responsibilities apart from the Values demonstrated.

2. Break down of the functional and generic competencies in to criteria for assessment : Since these are generic in nature as competencies go, they are purported to be defined through tangible or visible criteria. Thus a competence of Team building could be defined as Synergy management, Collaborating ability, Coordinating skills and so on.

3. Determination of levels of proficiency against the defined criteria. These criteria are further assigned ratings on a five point scale where 1 is Poor rating, 2 is Below Par 3 is Adequate, 4 is Very Good and 5 as Outstanding.

4. Behavior anchors for assessing the various levels of performance. It would also be important to describe the behavior manifest of each of the level of the criteria so as to generate a common understanding of the people involved in determining the potential of the people. Thus: The criteria of synergy management would be described as

Poor

Below par

Adequate

Very good

Outstanding

The assessee shows little inclination to interact with people. She/He takes least interest in assessing capabilities and draws a blank on what people are good at

The assessee has some vague ideas about who is who but avoids dealing with direct questions on their capabilities. His/her identification of competence is superficial and most obvious

The assessee has understood the good qualities of some of the people he/she interacts with. There is some ability shown to put some of the people to good use.

The assessee shows good abilities to get the best out of most people and is able to nurture their talent in getting most projects completed.

The assessee has an uncanny ability to find the latent abilities of people, surface those skills and engage the people to get quantum benefits for the projects the group is pursuing

Assessment of the incumbent’s potential against the core competency of the job

1. Functional Assessment

Every functional competency is defined by clear standards of learner / proficient/ Expert by assigning the right values or descriptors of Knowledge, Skills and attitudes.

a. Panel of experts. The so defined criteria will be scrutinized vis a vis each incumbent of the positions by a panel of Industry and Functional experts who are renowned in the field. The Experts would evaluate the incumbents based on tests, exercises, simulations and interviews to arrive at the level of proficiency

b. Performance appraisal review. This is yet another data that can validate the individual’s abilities and as applied on the job.

The data that is emerging can help determine the usefulness and future deployment of the individual for his functional competencies.

2. Generic assessment

These are competencies that are required to run a business process and the organization process and they are indicative of the potential a person possesses to take critical managerial positions in the organizations in the future.

To assess the potential of the employees for Business Leadership positions in the Organization the Technology of Assessment /Development Center could be effectively employed.

Assessment / Development Center methodology

A Center is a virtual Center comprising of assessees who are facilitated by assessors through a variety of business, social and other situations to identify the strengths and the areas of improvements. This is done through the use of well-designed tools and techniques to surface the hidden strengths and weaknesses.

The manner by which this Center is established is by the following broad steps:

1. Defining the purpose of the Center. It is important to clearly understand the need and purpose of the Center from the top management. The various purposes that could be served are for, Recruitment and Induction, Placement and Redeployment, Re structuring, Career planning and Promotion, identifying the Development needs among others

2. Selection of the level and positions for assessment. This is important as people from like levels need to be assessed with each other for a meaningful understanding of the talent available. This is done by

a. Band of jobs with in a level in the hierarchy. This is a step taken from the Job evaluation exercise where jobs from the same level of responsibilities across the functions are clubbed together. Thus all Deputy Managers and below who are second in charge of a function could be clubbed together as a Band for example.

b. Communicate to the prospective participants of the intent of the assessment. This is a critical part of the exercise as people have a need to know what the Management intends to do with the data from the Center on each of them. There fore the communication would be provided either by a general circular or taken through the involvement of the critical mass by a presentation followed by a question and answer session. The managers so involved would take the communication forward to others.

3. Designing tools & techniques for assessment. At this stage, the creative effort of the exercise is required, as each technique or tool needs to deliver assessment of two or more competencies. The design could include the following specific techniques

a. Instruments: Psychometric questionnaires

b. Business games and simulations:

c. Exercise: in –basket

d. Case study

e. Role plays

f. Others

4. Development of Assessors / Facilitators. Each assessor needs to be trained not only on the specific tools but also in the use of the assessment criteria and the rating systems

a. Tools and techniques. Each technique will be administered to the assessors them selves to get their understanding and commitment on the same.

b. Mindsets for assessment and standards and criteria of assessment is achieved by rotating the assessors across groups and having them discuss the various assesses’ performance at various situations

5. Schedule and conduct of the assessment / development centers

a. Physical and psychological settings to ensure a free and open atmosphere for learning. There fore the Centers are away from the work place

b. Competence mix: At a Center, care is taken to assess not more than 16 criteria /competencies using 6- 7 techniques .It is also ensured to keep a balance of the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Intuitive Intelligence aspects of the Human personality.

c. Sequencing of the events is necessary for ensuring the right mix of individual vs group exercises and for optimizing the time and avoiding ennui

d. Manning: It is recommended to associate one group of 5-7 participants per assessor. It is also recommended that not more than 3 groups are involved at a Center to avoid crowding and de personalizing the center. Individual reflection and feedback gets limited when the group swells beyond 20.

6. Analyzes

a. Ratings. Each assessee is rated on each tool or technique by an independent assessor against the criteria defined. The assessor uses the 5 point rating system and assesses against the specific behavior demonstrated against the pre determined standards .The rating is made on an absolute basis at this point in time as relative performance may unduly bias the assessor. The competencies are again given weight ages and over all ratings are computed cumulating the ratings of all competencies of the Center. Depending on the marks obtained at each of the competencies, the over all percentage is calculated and the final ratings are awarded as: 75% and above: Outstanding 60-74%: Very good 50-59%: Adequate 40-49%: Below par 39% and below: Poor each assessee could therefore be in one of the above over all rating

b. Ranking. Depending on the % of marks obtained each assessee is again listed in an ascending order of merit with the highest as Number 1 in rank and the next highest as number 2 and so on. The relative scores are viewed to delineate the outstandings referred to as Champs. These people are presented to the management as future leaders while the next level of “Champs in the making ‘are recommended for customized development. They would be groomed for becoming Outstanding. A second assessment is suggested after 6 months to track their performance. The third category are” Future Champs” who would be recommended for standard management and behavioral programs. Their potential assessment would be assessed again after 9 –18 months .The last category consists of below par and Poor rated who are referred as “ Functional specialists”. They are recommended for steady growth in their own function based on performance.

c. Pen picture writing. Each person is profiled in words crafted uniquely to describe the personality so as to highlight his usefulness and relevance in the business context.

d. Group and individual recommendations. Specific recommendations on the gaps observed individually as well as a group are consolidated and presented to the management for follow up action.

e. Follow up structure and systems. This takes the form of a dedicated task force or committee, which will review the findings against actual performance. This task force will convert the recommendations in to a calendar of development events which will include job rotations, on the job coaching, mentoring, training programs and so on. Promotion decisions will also be facilitated by the group in line with the long-term plans of the company.

SPECIFIC DELIVERABLES:

Through position profiling the following direct end results can be obtained :

• Clarity on each specific position in terms of it’s unique responsibilities and the accountabilities in a discrete manner

• The Requirements of competencies of each discrete position in terms of Functional, Managerial , Behavioral and Entrepreneurial abilities.

• The Inter linkages of input –output of positions with in the Organization for ensuring the delivery in the value chain

Through the Assessment /Development Center the following specific end results will be obtained :

• The strengths and areas for improvement of each individual assessed against the specific competencies and their pre determined criteria

• The gaps and the development needs of each participant and the group for planning the training and development calendar

• The growth potential of each participant against performance and potential criteria and the generation of career paths

Benefits:

This initiative in an organization can also derive the following benefits:

• Re engineering the organization and structuring around the core competence of the company

• Right sizing the organization through a well defined process of potential appraisal

• Retention of employees through the transparent declaration of career paths based on their potential

• Aligning the development efforts around the core strategic competence requirements of the company

• Aligning the jobs and their responsibilities around the strategic objectives of the company

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