2 Background Good news about competencies: most of us are already using competencies – human termsrequire skills library staff have: observers of behaviour; evaluate behaviour all the timesimple to establish (but not easy!)Don’t have to be brilliant.Don’t require complex methods to administer.Require rigourous documentation/classification/careful control of vocabulary.Competencies are “skills and abilities” expressed in behavioural terms.
3 BackgroundFlourished in 1990s based on key article by Hamel & Prahalad in HBRPartly a reaction to expansionist 80’s“Core competencies” and “competencies” used interchangeablyRecall that many organizations such as banks had expanded to offer insurance, insurance companies starting making loans.In the late 80s and early 90s a sharp recession and financial shock persuaded companies to look at what their core strengths were.
4 Some examples Fedex Service: Delivery Core competency: Logistics Eastman KodakService: Photography productsCore competency: Chemical imagingNot the same as a product: In this example what makes Fedex profitable is its logistic ability to track and optimize the delivery of vast numbers of packages. This competency drives the company’s R & D, IT department as well as Sales. Kodak is a better example of sticking with your core competency over a particular product. Kodak’s core competency was defined as “chemical imaging” and fortunately not the production of photographs 80s-style.The core competency enables the company to see and grow beyond its products, and to find human resources who can take them there.PPL was entirely unable to arrive at a PPL core competency at this stage – Cathy will describe how one came into being later through our competency cultureENRON!!
5 Organizational competencies Core competencies originally applied to organizations as a whole:Confer competitive advantageValuableRareDifficult to imitatePervasive in the organizationAnswers the question “What does our organization do that makes us unique and valuable to clients so that they use our services and not a competitor’s?
6 Individual competencies Applied to individuals in an organization:Relate to performance of major part of jobUnderlying, deep & enduringIdentify and predict successful job performanceBehaviourally-expressed and evaluatedCan be improved by further training(Sometimes refer to technical skills)Very important to be rigourous in applying these criteria.Hire people for their frequently-used skill set, not for occasional surges of other characteristics.Endure because all jobs change – technology, budgets, society, client demands – we look for the qualities that will provide excellent service whether it is at a desk, in a daycare, speaking to groups, on a computer or not.Behaviours are the most critical element in competencies – behaviours can be changed and improved. Don’t ask for a competency you would not try to develop in an employee to help her do a better job.“Maturity” ill-advised for a junior employee – if she is young how can she get it? Gets very close to a path which is discriminatory.Staff with the right competencies will do a wonderful job for the organization.Competencies answer the question “What are the essential qualities that an ideal employee demonstrates?”
7 Behaviours determine competencies Example: “Flexible” vs.:Accepts new roles and responsibilitiesAnticipates and adjusts for changing circumstances in achievement of objectivesDemonstrates a positive attitude during times of changeHandles multiple tasks and responsibilities successfullyMost performance review forms that we looked at actually use a mix of both competencies and what we will call here “qualities” – static statements of virtue. Old PPL form had “flexible” standing alone. This is not a competency though it meets some of these conditions. The essential key to a competency is to spell out the behaviours that demonstrate it.Answers the question “What is our most flexible employee doing to make her an excellent performer?’Should have an image of what she is doing and sayingSome competencies also include a definition of what the purpose of the competency is. Here, the definition could be “Able to respond to rapidly changing work circumstances”
8 Competencies in a System Model Strategic FoundationMission, Vision, Core Valuesexcellence; personal; communicate; enhanceCore Competenciesconfer competitive advantagevalue for userqualities rare/uniquehard to imitatepervasivepeople/clients; services;OrganizationCompetenciesleadershipinnovationcontinuous improvementproblem-solvingetc.Individual Job
9 3 approaches to competencies Homogenized – same set for allIndividualized – unique set for eachStratified – sets vary by class of jobVarious models exist, and each has advantages and disadvantages – the key is to find the best model for your Library and agree to that structure.
10 Who has adopted competencies? Other libraries of all typesProfessional organizationsPrivate sectorSee thousands of lists on the internetSome organizations use technical skills and processes as “competencies” e.g. indexing
11 Advantages of competencies Behaviour easier to talk about than labelsReduces biasDistinguishes top-tier staff from averageGives staff a common language which permeates & aligns the organizationProvides focus for trainingProvides consistencyOnce competencies are established in one area they logically progress to other areas, e.g. performance reviews to recruitment.
12 Disadvantages of competencies Some behaviours “personal”Extensive documentation and control neededNot all behaviours can be capturedCompetencies can overlap/become vague or repetitiveChange in format generates its own problemsTemptation to over-design job competencies No more than 12 – really really tempting to do a great list of every ability you could possible ask of anybody – this results in a paragon who is likely not a good fit to many jobs and in any case would probably be working somewhere other than libraries.PPL has for 3 years in a row reduced the scope of the competencies – taken behaviours away that were duplicated elsewhere/simplified language/added a brief definition.PPL had huge issues with ratings, which became associated with competencies.
13 Implementation I Aim for fewer than 12 competencies Decide on approach – individual, specialized or homogenizedFocus on how, not what work is done (tasks change)Learn from othersInclude a definition for each competency as well as a handful of behavioursPrepare a 1st draft for staff and management input and expect many revisionsThis is absolutely the most interesting stage of developing competencies.Enormous discussions among management to winnow down and arrive at the desired competency set.Excellent as a way to define what we do best and uniquely in our own library.
14 Implementation II After competencies have been defined: Create job specificationsRecruit using job specsInterview using behaviourally-based competency questionsOrient new employees to competency expectationsIntroduce competencies to existing employees and offer trainingCoach staff performance based on competenciesEvaluate all employees using competency-based evaluation forms
15 Building a competency culture at PPL Why was this needed at PPL?No clear understanding of what was expected from employees in an environment of changePPL needed a comprehensive system to define, communicate and manage employee performance.Despite management’s best efforts to continuously improve and adapt to change, there was not a clear understanding or agreement among library managers and staff about the expectations for employees in a changing environment.Knew that we wanted staff who were engaged improving the organization, who where client focused, not task-focused but we needed a language, a plan, a method to get there.PPL was an organizational culture that needed a comprehensive system to define and manage employee performance.Competencies had been effectively applied as a system in other libraries, and our deputy CEO was quite familiar with the concept.
16 Defining the desired competencies I January 2004Developed a consensus on concepts and their relevanceReviewed the competencies of other organizations – other libraries, professional lists, etcTook what was appropriate for our organizationCore competency was difficult to define so we left itIt was essential to first develop a consensus on the concept of competencies and their relevance to the PPL environment. This was done by introducing the topic first to senior management, then to managers.This introduction was done via a presentation that was quite similar to what Val has already presented.The feedback was that this was a project worth doing.Next, senior managers reviewed the competencies of other organizations – other libraries, professional lists, etc. Took what was appropriate for our organization and passed this on to front line managers for their discussion.Tried to develop a core competency, but that was placed to the side. In fact, we found that our core competency rose out of practice quite organically…
17 Defining the desired competencies II Preferred the stratified structure and defined a hierarchy of competenciesAlso, a common group of competencies were found in all positions.Behaviours were the last to be definedWe found that we like the stratified structure for PPL.In this model, positions of a higher authority have a greater number of competencies expected of them. For example, Vision and strategic orientations are competencies which are required of senior administration only.i.e Other positions are not accountable for being visionary..Despite this hierachical stratification, we identified that there are a core group of common competencies which are required of every position, although the expressions of these competencies are different.These competencies include client focus, problem solving and analysis, and communication skills.Behaviours , which defined the competencies, were the last to be defined.Again, we borrowed from other libraries, but we worked hard to make sure that the behaviours were clearly, objective, and observable.
18 Communicating with staff Spring 2004Staff were introduced to the concept of competencies at staff meetings and through various memos and discussions.Summer 2004Staff were introduced to the new competency-based evaluation forms during the annual evaluation processStaff were introduced to the concept of competencies at staff meetings and various memos and discussions in the Spring of 2004They were presented as drafts and feedback was solicited.Management did not receive much feedback, because we knew that they were not yet an engaged, empowered group.In the summer of 2004, staff were introduced to the new competency based evaluation forms. Their old evaluation forms were used officially and filed, but staff knew what was expected of them for the next year. This communication of expectations was essential.Managers were evaluated using the new competency based forms, but ratings were not used the first year. During the first year of using competency based, performance reviews Supervisors of underperforming managers found that they had an effective tool to communicate their expectations and to manage and coach for performance improvements
19 Competency-based performance evaluation I This is an example of our competency based annual performance evaluation form.As you can see, we have a competency – Interpersonal & Group Skills with identified behaviours along with a rating (behavioural frequency, feedback, and a checkbox for a training plan if necessary)We have now gone through two annual cycles using this form.
20 Competency-based performance evaluation II 360 degree feedback forms, based on competencies were added to managers reviews’ in 2005 and to staff reviews in 2006Managers invited feedback from a random selection of colleaguesIn 2005, 360 degree feedback was added to manager’s performance reviews.Staff rated managers on the behaviorally expressed competencies.In 2005, these feedback forms were sent via paper to SOLS who tabulated the results.In 2006, 360 degree feedback was used for all staff reviews and was done anonymously via internal surveyor (freeware LINUX php surveyor). Managers invited feedback from a random selection of colleagues. Again the feedback was based on behaviorally expressed competencies.
21 Competency-based training I Training is a major part of implementing a competency-based HR systemSome training was system-wideCustomer service training was firstCoaching Skills for SupervisorsCommunications TrainingTraining to improve competencies is a major component when introducing competency based HR practices with an existing staff. (Many staff may not have all of the required competencies for their position)Thus training / coaching became a major focus for the organizationOur most important competency (one that was found in every position), was client focus (essential in a service profession). Thus our first large scale training initiative was in customer service. Management ensured that customer service training included all of the behaviours that we felt should be expressed by this competencies. These behaviours included proactive customer service, roving, building client relationships, etc.It was also essential that we train managers to coach staff to meet our new performance levels. That is why our next training session was Coaching skills.Finally, Communications Training was offered to all staff to ensure that we were functioning efficiently as a team, with the skills of assertiveness, conflict management and feedback. Interpersonal and Group competencies which were identified for improvement in management and staff.
22 Competency-based training II Some training was individual and based on the training plan associated with evaluationsIndividualized training was accomplished through in-house methods as well as external sources.In addition to the larger training initiatives, the first and 2nd year performance evaluations noted individuals with multiple or specific performance problems.These were dealt with individually by in-house methods (coaching, mentoring, self study) or by external resources (training program or external coaching)This was done within a training budget of approx $6,000.
23 Competency-based recruitment Fall 2004New postings included competenciesInterviews included competency-based questionsContinuous LearningThink back to when you received a new position orresponsibility within the workplace. What have you doneto learn the new skills that were required?Fall 2004New postings included a job description that included the competencies for the position.Potential employees were interviewed with questions that probed these competencies.For example,We have also tried external, competency-based pre-employment testing using companies such as Zerorisk and Ellis Associates.
24 Hurdles Time-intensive for managers Ratings for behavioural frequency are misperceived in many waysPerformance can be a very emotional issue for some staffUsing competency measures for 360 feedback is difficult for staffCompetency-based recruitment may be difficult if there are not enough suitable recruitsCompetency based HR practices have proven to be very effective in performance management, training, and recruitment at PPL. However, there are some hurdles that libraries considering using these practices must be aware of.Competency based HR practices require that managers spend a larger amount of time in performance management, recruitment and training than they had previously at PPL. Managers are changing their priorities and focus to supervision rather than other issues (collection development, direct public service). This is a large change management issue, but a necessary one as a more professional management team in libraries is essential in responding to change.Another hurdle has been the performance evaluation forms. The ratings have proven a difficult program both in maintaining consistency and in the perception by staff. We have recognized that while we try our best to communicate and judge performance objectively and get multiple sources of input, many staff still bring a lot of emotional background to the process of performance evaluation.The forms also required a greater clarity for some behaviors as well as need to be shorter.Using competency based 360 evaluation forms has proven to be difficult for staff who are not as familiar with the concepts as management are.An of course, 360 feedback while attempting to get a clear picture on an individual’s performance, can be emotionally charged with trust issues.Finally, there is a hurdle to competency based recruitment. Many of us in the public library world believe that there is a disconnect between what is taught in the library training programs in graduate schools and community colleges, and the competencies that are required in a public library environment.If we do not find the required competencies in trained librarians and library technicians, we may find that we are forced to hire outside this group.
25 SuccessesManagers and staff now have a language for handling performance issuesManagers find it easier to deal with performance problems and have had much success with underperforming staffThe recruitment process has been clarifiedThe training process is more focused, less ad hocAs I have already mentioned, competency based HR practices have proven to be very effective in performance management, training, and recruitment at PPL.Probationary to long term employees have a clear idea of the performance that is expected of them. We have recognized a number of performance areas during the probationary period that we would not have addressed as well without this systems.Managers have a clear method of evaluating and guiding poor performance. We have had much success in turning around underperforming staff.We also have a clearer idea of what we are looking for in new staff which clarifies the recruitment process.Finally, our training process has become much more aligned with the needs of the organization.
26 Continuous improvements Streamlining and simplifying performance reviews forms and processManagers are making more time for performance management.PPL is committed to this practice and will continue to make improvements over time.Always revising the wording and the behaviours to make the competencies as clear as possibleIn addition we are streamlining and simplifying our performance review process. (Spreading the reviews out over the year, making the 360 forms shorter)Managers are looking are reprioritizing their work to enable them to have more time for performance management and coachingIn closing, I must say the PPL is committed to this process and will continue to make improvements over time.
27 Our core competency (nearly)! Friendly and convenient service to fit every client’s needs.Before I leave, I mentioned the difficulty that we had defining our core organizational competency.Over time as our organization became more aligned and our vision more defined, it has become clearer what our core competency is. Clearer but not totally clear because of a lack of strategic advantage and uniqueness in this mission. (I think there is a why statement missing here …)We provided a library service that was friendly, convenient, and met the needs of every client. We have now have the staff, the facilities, the policies and the service plan which meets this mission.
28 Thank you Valerie Ridgway, firstname.lastname@example.org Cathy Grant