How To Evaluate And Measure Competencies For Better Performance Management
If someone were to suddenly ask you to evaluate your people’s competence at their jobs and how they’re contributing to your workplace’s overall performance, chances are that you’ll find it a bit challenging.
Your people drive your organization’s success, so shouldn’t there be a proper process for measuring and evaluating them along with their competencies? Fortunately for us, there is a such a system that can help us do exactly that.
Not only can it help us measure and evaluate competencies, but it can also help you bring out the best in your team members, helping them perform to the best of their abilities. Keeping that in mind, here’s a quick and easy guide to help you effectively measure competencies in your organization.
How to identify relevant competencies for job roles
Before we get started, we need to understand how these competencies are identified and developed for each individual role.
Competence, by definition, means the ability to do something well. By extension, competency is defined as a specific ability, knowledge, or behavior that is required to perform a job well.
So, to identify relevant competencies for specific roles in your organization, you must begin by establishing what level of performance, knowledge, skills, or demonstrated behavior constitutes good performance in a specific role. Usually, this requires assembling a team of people from different functions to thoroughly evaluate each job in their respective function.
Once we’re through with identifying the competencies, the next step is to categorize these surfaced elements into the following competency categories:
- Core competencies: These competencies enable your people in supporting the organization’s culture, values, and overall objectives, and usually apply to all positions in the organization.
- Common competencies: These competencies are present in only a few specific roles, usually separated by organizational levels. For example, management roles would have certain common competencies such as decision-making, problem-solving, etc.
- Technical competencies: These competencies support a specific job or function and also include the technical skills or knowledge required to perform the job.
- Behavioral competencies: These are the expected behaviors your people must demonstrate when taking on a certain job or function. Behavioral competencies can also include all the necessary interpersonal skills to maintain decorum within the organization.
- Future competencies: While not as prevalent as others, these competencies include all the skills, knowledge, and behaviors required to take on a particular role in the future.
Techniques for evaluating competencies
Now that you have successfully identified the competencies for each role, the next step is to evaluate these identified competencies. The thing about evaluating competencies in an organization is that it can be done at any of the following stages:
- Training and development
- Succession planning and promotion
- Organizational development analysis
What matters, however, is the method or technique with which you decide to evaluate each competency. For each of the above mentioned stages, there are specific techniques that you can follow. We recommend the following four as the best techniques for evaluating job-specific competencies:
1. Behavioral interviews
This technique is based on the premise that past performance is the best indicator of an individual’s future performance.
In this technique, usually conducted at the recruitment stage, applying candidates are provided questions built around specific competencies that can reveal the extent to which they exhibit the knowledge, skills, abilities, or characteristics of the role for which they have applied.
That said, what we evaluate is not what candidates know already about their chosen roles, but they apply what they know to meet the job expectations.
2. Psychometric tests
Psychometric tests are a highly recommended set of tests that help organizations in identifying a candidate's skills, knowledge and personality, especially during the pre-screening phase. In a nutshell, these are standardized procedures that are used to measure the individual differences in an unbiased scientific method without the interference of human factors.
There are two types of psychometric tests that organizations conduct to evaluate competencies:
- Personality tests that explore your interests, values and motivations while analysing how you align with the role and organisation, and
- Aptitude tests that aim to evaluate your reasoning or cognitive ability, determining whether you've got the right skillset for a role.
3. 360-degree feedback
360-degree feedback is one of the most prominent methods of evaluating competencies, due to its two-fold objectives. Not only can this method evaluate a specific role’s competencies as objectively as possible, but it can also provide an objective image of an individual’s performance against their expected competencies.
To evaluate competencies using 360-degree feedback, begin with a self-assessment where your team member evaluates themselves against their respective competency framework. Next, nominate your team member’s peers to assess their performance against the framework as well. Once that too is done, calculate the team member’s average competency score.
This will allow you in calculating the legitimacy of your identified competencies as well as tell you how well your team member is aligned with the framework set for their job.
4. Critical incidents
The critical incidents technique is essentially a set of procedures for systematically identifying behaviours and skills that contribute to success and failure of individuals or organisations in specific situations.
Here, a checklist of good and bad behavior is prepared, which is then compared against critical incidents that demonstrate a specific behavior to determine and establish role-specific competencies.
Best practices for measuring competencies
1. Performance appraisals should incorporate competency assessment
Performance appraisals is a great way for both you and your team members to sit together, evaluate previously established key results and performance, and establish goals for the next cycle. This is also a great way to measure job-specific competencies as these meetings can be used as a tool for communicating the latest expectations of skills required in the job functions.
Not only would doing this make it easier for your team member to process their performance against their established competency framework but it would also give them the time to facilitate any changes in knowledge or skill for their job.
2. Establish and analyze KPIs
One of the best ways of helping your people understand their job-specific competencies is by identifying key targets for them to work towards. With the help of these KPIs, you too would be in a better position to measure the competencies of each role in your team and make prompt adjustments in situations of miscalculations.
3. Conduct regular 1:1 meetings with your team
When measuring competencies, conducting regular 1:1s with each of your team member is a must. Not only would these serve as a great way to identify positive points and areas of improvements, it would also help you in balancing the competency framework to better suit the job requirements.
4. Avoid delegating the process to HR
More often than not, identifying, evaluating, and measuring competencies is delegated to the organization’s HR function. You mustn’t do this, as HR may not be fully aware of every job’s ins and outs to effectively carry out the task.
To that end, make efforts to assemble a team of managers and executives from every functional area to work together in identifying and evaluating the competencies. As for measuring them, it is up to the functional leaders to stay in contact with their team and measure the effectiveness of the competencies within their function.
Challenges in evaluating and measuring competencies
1. Evaluating critical competencies is a tricky job
Oftentimes, it is difficult to identify competencies that are critical to an organization’s success. Whether it be difficulty in finding competencies that align with the organization’s objectives and values or simply settling down with basic competencies that represent the workplace poorly, it is important to involve your organization’s leaders, work together with them, and prioritize finding these competencies first.
2. The competencies are seldom reworked
One of the biggest problems with evaluating competencies is that people tend to treat them as a one-and-done kind of a process, seldom updating it. Therefore, their effectiveness is never measured and they quickly become obsolete. Of course, as we have discussed throughout this guide, evaluating and measuring competencies are tasks that go hand-in-hand and it is your responsibility to carry out each one of them.
3. Competencies can create stress and cause backlash
One major downside to having a competency framework is that if it sets even a bit of unrealistic expectations for your people and they are not able to perform adequately, it can create an environment full of stress and cause undue pressure for them.
To overcome this, stay in touch with your team members, work with them to identify roadblocks, and make changes in competencies as required.
How to measure and evaluate competencies using Mesh
Mesh allow the functional managers to manage their team's competencies by providing the option to evaluate and set them up at the start of every review cycle through the "Reviews" section. Every job-specific competency can then be viewed and modified at any time by heading over to the team member's profile or review section, as shown below.
Conducting competency assessment is just as easy! Mesh integrates the pre-determined competencies into the performance and self-reviews of your team members, allowing you to hold all your assessment data in one place.
We all understand that establishing competencies for every role in an organization is a great way to communicate what the organization expects from its people. Whether it be cultural adherence or job-specific performance, it is truly one of the most effective ways of bettering your workplace’s performance management.
However, as we have discussed in this guide, competencies need to be evaluated and measured so that they stay updated and aligned with organizational objectives so that your people’s efforts do not go in vain. Do it the way we discussed, and your established competencies will continue to greatly serve your people and your organization.