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Negative Side of Competency Mapping
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Negative Side of Competency Mapping

by Ashok Grover

Competency mapping is a very effective tool for improving performance of employees and in turn that of the organization. But is it really a safe bet? Not necessarily, unless handled with care!

 

Improving performance of employees and in turn that of his organization was an issue, which had been on the mind of the Chairman for so long. Therefore, when Guru, the management consultant, suggested competency mapping, he took no time to fall in agreement and gave an immediate go ahead for the same. It all sounded very positive and he appeared to have gotten an answer to put his company on the fast track of growth through improved performance!

Within next three months, Guru had completed a rigorous job of competency mapping across organization and an important phase of HR intervention was over. After six months, an honest review of the entire exercise showed hardly anything on the credit side; of course on the debit side was expected and planned management time, a few hundred thousand bucks and... sadly an unplanned and unexpected departure of four senior employees. These employees were not extraordinary, yet doing a reasonably good job. Their curt message to the management - if they were really as incompetent as projected, there was no point in continuing with the organization.

Alas, many a times, this is all we get from a serious exercise like competency mapping. This happens, when we fail to realize, appreciate and plan to utilize employees' strengths. While this act itself can give us rich dividends, in all likelihood our focus may remain only on the shortcomings and improving those areas. No doubt, this too is important and does help individuals and the organizations to improve their capabilities; but it will be fruitless if we fail to make optimum use of the strengths and capabilities available.

While there is so much written, discussed and researched about various competencies, their definitions, relevance and various models of competency mapping, there is hardly any mention of how to convey the right messages. It is perhaps taken for granted. As a result, the whole exercise may end up into just wastage of money, time and efforts, demotivation of employees as also putting excellent tools to disrepute and bringing bad name to management consulting.

It may therefore, be prudent to make use of the following checklist while undertaking any such HR intervention:

  • Concentrate on the strengths before looking for opportunities for improvement.
  • While communicating with stakeholders, be a good listener. Encourage two-way communication.
  • Share with the employees, organization's business strategy and direction, the industry scenario and how they can identify future competency and skill requirements to align their development with business needs.
  • Fact is that even the most positive employees may find it difficult to self start. They need guidance and support. Motivate them and provide required resources.
  • Give due importance to communication. Anybody and everybody is not competent enough to talk about such sensitive issues. It is not only the matter to be communicated; but the manner thereof. A lot depends on the receiver side also. Even if some people may be more sensitive or not mature enough to receive feedback, the solution still lies with the feedback provider only.

Ashok Grover is an expert in people assessment and focused executive / leadership coaching. He is Director at Skillscape, a company with a vision of Value Creation by enhancing people and organizational competencies.

His last assignment was with the JBM Group as Corporate Chief Human Resource Officer. He has over four decades of experience in operations, materials, information technology and people development with Parle Group, Mohan Meakins Group, Hawkins Cookers Limited and JBM Group.

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