Knowledge - FAQ
1. What is a competency
2. How do competencies differ from skills
3. Why is a competency model important?
4. How are competency models developed?
5. What competency models are available
to SSC clients?
6. List of available models
7. Can a competency model be tailored
to a specific need?
8. What is meant by "Integrated
Human Resource Practices"?
9. How can performance management work
in a competency-based system?
10. What are the benefits of implementing
a competency-based approach?
11. What is the business impact of
12. Specific improvements related to
using competency-based systems ?
13. How do you gain management commitment
to support a competency-based system?
14. How can competencies be used in
a coaching/self-assessment process and tool?
15. What are the advantages of using
a coaching and self-assessment tool?
16. What are the benefits of the coaching
and self-assessment tool?
17. What is SSC's 360 degrees assessment
process and tool?
18. When can and should a 360°
assessment process and tool be used?
19. What are the benefits of a 360°
20. Who usually participates in the
360° assessment process ?
21. How does an individual receive
their feedback report?
22. What are the potential pitfalls
of 360° assessments?
23. How balanced are 360° assessment
tools as they relate to bias, gender, and nationality?
24. How are 360° assessments related
to performance management?
25. How does performance management
work in a competency based system?
26. Can competencies be tied to compensation
(e.g., base pay or incentive pay)? How does such a competency-based system influence
27. Do companies implement 360°
28. What is the difference between
a 360° appraisal and a 360° development plan?
29. What are best practices related
to succession planning?
30. What criteria are appropriate for
31. What's the best method for interviewing?
32. What are best practices for individual
is a Competency?
is defined as a behavior or set of behaviors that describes excellent
performance in a particular work context (e.g., job, role or group
of jobs, function, or whole organization). These characteristics
are applied more and more by organizations because they provide
significant help with key problems such as:
a.. clarifying workforce standards and expectations
b.. aligning individuals, teams, and managers with the organization's
business strategies c.. creating empowerment, accountability, and
alignment of coach, team member, and employer in performance development
d.. developing equitable, focused appraisal and compensation decisions
1. What is a competency model?
A competency model is a set of success factors, often called competencies
that include the key behaviors required for excellent performance
in a particular role. Excellent performers on-the-job demonstrate
these behaviors much more consistently than average or poor performers.
These characteristics generally follow the 80-20 rule in that they
include the key behaviors that primarily drive excellent performance.
They are generally presented with a definition and key behavioral
indicators. (See example below):
Competency Title: Customer Service Orientation
Definition: Responds to customer's needs in a manner that provides
added value and generates significant customer satisfaction.
a.. Demonstrates a deep understanding of internal and external customers
and their needs
b.. Mobilizes the appropriate resources to respond to customer's
c.. Takes personal responsibility for customer satisfaction (e.g.,
focuses value-added interactions)
d.. Builds credibility and trust with the customer through open
and direct communication (e.g., uses effective listening skills,
provides timely. feedback, etc.)
Ensures that customers believe their issues and concerns are given
In contrast, competencies do not include "baseline" skills
and knowledge (i.e., commonly expected performance characteristics
such as finishing assigned work, answering the telephone, writing
follow-up letters, etc.), job tasks, or unusual or idiosyncratic
behaviors that may contribute to a single individual's success.
do competencies differ from skills and knowledge?
only include behaviors that demonstrate excellent performance.
Therefore, they do not include knowledge, but do include
"applied" knowledge or the behavioral application
of knowledge that produces success. In addition, competencies
do include skills, but only the manifestation of skills
that produce success. Finally, competencies are not work
motives, but do include observable behaviors related to
motives. (See figure below for an illustration of these
is a competency model important ?
The model is important because it provides a "road
map" for the range of behaviors that produce excellent
performance. It helps:
a.. Companies "raise the bar" of performance expectations;
b.. Teams and individuals align their behavior with key
organizational strategies; and Each employee understands
how to achieve expected performance standards.
are competency models developed?
Competency models are developed through
a process of clarifying the business strategy and determining
how the models would be used (e.g., hiring and selection,
assessment, performance management, training and development,
and career development). Then, data is gathered in structured
interviews. Next, data is analyzed and used to develop strawman
models of success criteria. Then validation surveys are
administered and models refined based on feedback. Finally,
models are finalized and translated into appropriate, end-user
tools and applications.
competency models are available to SSC clients?
SSC competencies is divided into three components
and provides a unique advantage for helping our clients
"jump-start" competency development processes
in their own organization:
a.. Skills: Based on specific skills, experience and trainings.
b.. Knowledge: Based on know how and know what.
c.. Professional qualities: Based on Know who, behaviour, habits,
traits, value, human interaction skills, and leaderships.
of Available Models
a. Personal Attributes
b. Management Skills
b. General Manager
f. Middle Manager
a. Change Leadership
b. Team Leadership
c. High Involvement Workteams
d. Influence Skills
e. Interpersonal Skills
f. Facilitation Skills
g. Team Leader
h. Culture Assessment
j. Environmental, Health, and Safety
m. Administrative Support
a. United States
d. South East Asia
While the database's models are generally organized by core,
leadership levels, or function, there is significant data
available on competency models and behaviors linked to specific
a competency model be tailored to a specific need?
models can be organized as flexible tools that can be used
a. Employee orientation
b. Employee development
c. Performance management and coaching
d. Career strategies
e. Candidate interviews
f. Team assessment
g. Succession planning.
is meant by "Integrated Human Resource Practices"?
Organizations are using competencies in
virtually every human resource domain. They provide criteria
that can be applied to each of the human resource practices
Integrated Human Resource Practices
Competencies are used as the "key criteria" for
implementing each application. In other words, competencies
are framed into a specific tool and accompanied by guidelines
defining how managers and employees use the tool to produce
results in each of the above areas.
can performance management work in a competency-based system?
performance management is positioned as a process comprised
of steps that include planning, managing, evaluating and
rewarding performance. Often, the competencies used in performance
management are either a subset of the total competency model,
or the definition. In addition, the performance appraisal
process includes goals, expected results, and competencies.
It is an ongoing process that aligns and integrates the
objectives of the organization, business units, teams and
individuals. Competencies specify precisely how individuals
can align their activities to the key strategies of the
are the benefits of implementing a competency-based approach
to developing professionals?
For The Company, competency-based practices:
a. Reinforce corporate strategy, culture, and vision.
b. Establish expectations for performance excellence, resulting
in a systematic approach to professional development, improved
job satisfaction, and better employee retention.
c. Increase the effectiveness of training and professional
development programs by linking them to the success criteria
(i.e., behavioral standards of excellence).
d. Provide data on development needs that emerge from group
and/or organizational composites that are an outcome of
e. Provide a common framework and language for discussing
how to implement and communicate key strategies.
f. Provide a common understanding of the scope and requirements
of a specific role
g. Provide common, organization-wide standards for career
levels that enable employees to move across business boundaries
Managers, competency-based practices:
Identify performance criteria to improve the accuracy and
ease of the hiring and selection process.
Provide more objective performance standards.
c. Clarify standards of excellence for easier communication
of performance expectations to direct reports.
d. Provide a clear foundation for dialogue to occur between
the manager and employee about performance, development,
and career-related issues.
Employees, competency-based practices:
a. Identify the success criteria (i.e., behavioral
standards of performance excellence) required to be successful
in their role.
b. Provide a more specific and objective assessment of their
strengths and specify targeted areas for professional development.
c. Provide development tools and methods for enhancing their
d. Provide the basis for a more objective dialogue with
their manager or team about performance, development, and
career related issues.
is the business impact of competency-based systems?
leadership programs or performance development interventions
are seen as important, but focused on "soft skills"
that may not affect business results. One of the most important
developments in human resources is the clarification of
the "business value" of key programs.
Some of the measurable benefits of competency-based performance
development are listed below. These kinds of impacts improve
talent levels, save money, and improve business performance.
Improvements Related to Using Competency-Based Systems
· 5-10% in rate of hiring successful
· 15-20% in retention of desired employees.
· 15-25% in morale as measured in employee surveys.
· 20% in goal completion by individuals and teams.
do you gain management commitment to support a competency-based
On-going management sponsorship is one of
the most important factors predicting success in competency-based
practices. Some of the most important methods for ensuring
support include: early involvement in the profile-building
process, maintaining focus on the business payoff (i.e.,
cost/rework savings, improved efficiencies, better alignment
between individual and team behavior and strategies), involving
managers in early pilots (e.g., 360° assessments), and
enlisting managers to support the integration of competencies
into development plans and performance management tools.
can competencies be used in a coaching/self-assessment process
Competencies can be formatted into a coaching/self-assessment
tool that allows employees and/or managers to rate competencies
for performance level and degree of importance, and to provide
evidence (e.g., noting specific accomplishments or evidence
of potential performance problems) to support their ratings.
are the advantages of using this coaching and self-assessment
The primary advantage of this assessment
tool is that it can be used in the course of day-to-day
a. Managers may apply it to assess overall performance
(e.g., as an adjunct to an appraisal), conduct a dialogue
comparing ratings with a direct report, or to focus on one
or more competencies in a short coaching session. Individuals
can apply it as an observation checklist to evaluate role
models, as a quick method for personal assessment, or as
an ad hoc multi-rater tool (by soliciting inputs from managers,
b. Teams can use it as a vehicle to introduce the concept
of competency standards and to determine total team strengths
The most important benefits of the assessment tool are
a. Helps the manager focus coaching and development
discussions, perform them faster and more objectively, and
involve their direct reports in more self-directed assessment
b. Helps individuals take realistic responsibility for their
own evaluation and development; and Helps teams maintain
their focus on critical success factors, and target and
confront overall team vulnerabilities.
is SSC's 360 degrees assessment process and tool?
SSC's 360 degreesassessment process and
tool enlists a range of individuals with different perspectives
(e.g., colleagues, manager, dotted-line manager, direct
reports, and internal and/or external
customers) as well as the participant to rate performance
against the competency behaviors in a profile. Data is collected
using our completely self-service, web-based tool -- Voyager
managed by our Technologies Services Group, Human Asset
Technologies. The individual's assessment data is then processed
and a feedback report is generated online for that individual
at a personalized homepage. There are a series of reports
that outline the individual's strengths and development
needs and lead them to on line development suggestions and
can and should a 360° assessment process and tool be
This process can be used by anyone in an
organization for whom there is an appropriate competency
profile. However, a 360° assessment process works best
when used selectively. The tool can provide very accurate
evaluation data when relatively unbiased information is
collected from a range of people who observe an individual's
work. This form of assessment requires data processing,
incurs costs, and requires time from several people to complete
ratings. Therefore, it should be used in specific situations,
a.. A major career transition or job change;
b.. A reorganization or major realignment of a team or organization
(to target new performance criteria);
c.. Developing objective evidence about and feedback for
a problem employee;
d.. Developing a plan for leveraging the talents of excellent
employees (e.g., high potential groups); and
e.. Developing plans for high-impact groups (e.g., managers,
executives, boards of directors) 360° assessment works
as well for teams as it does for individuals.
Composite reports for whole teams and business units are
excellent vehicles for evaluating group vulnerabilities,
strengths and for developing total team competence.
are the benefits of a 360° assessment?
The 360° assessment process provides
more accurate, objective, and extensive feedback than other
forms of competency evaluation. It is an excellent method
for gaining relatively unbiased insights into development
targets and for clarifying differences of perception between
an individual and their managers, colleagues, direct reports,
and customers. In addition, individuals can access development
advice related to competency gaps and create development
plans at their own unique homepage.
Individuals can share their data, reports, and development
plans online with their manager.
usually participates in the 360° assessment process?
The 360° assessment process is most
effective when an individual receives feedback from a diverse
group of individuals (6-10) who directly observe an individual's
work (e.g., manager, dotted-line manager, internal and/or
external customers, colleagues, and direct reports as well
While a larger and more diverse data pool provides more
valid assessment, the desire for rich data needs to be balanced
against the time and resources required to complete the
does an individual receive their feedback report?
Usually, individuals receive their
feedback report online at their homepage and bring their
report to a specific debriefing session facilitated by a
person certified in the process of debriefing 360° assessment
feedback. During the debriefing session, an individual evaluates
the results, and creates an action plan that helps them
set goals for leveraging their strengths and developing
in areas where they need improvement. 360° assessment
feedback is most effective when it is:
a.. Debriefed in a safe context (e.g., separate from performance
b.. Debriefed by trained facilitators;
c.. Linked to an important human resource process or goal
(e.g., a performance management process, leadership training,
d.. Translated into specific development goals and actions
that are tracked over time; and
e.. Dialogued with managers and the individual's team in
are the potential pitfalls of 360° assessments?
360° assessments are a powerful tool,
but can have several unintended negative effects. For instance,
sometimes individuals try to manipulate the data by selecting
participants whom they think will provide them with the
most positive feedback. In other instances, individuals
feel betrayed if leaders try to use numerical 360° assessment
data in appraisals or for de-selection decisions (Note that
individual numerical data is provided only to the assessed
individual). In addition, 360° assessment requires time
and resources to implement and can be used to avoid rather
than promote dialogue. Finally, 360° assessment reports
have all the advantages and disadvantages of numerical data
(i.e., they provide a relative assessment about WHAT might
be vulnerable, but do not offer information about WHY there
is a problem).
balanced are 360° assessment tools as they relate to
bias, gender, and nationality?
While 360° assessment feedback does
not eliminate all forms of rater bias, well-constructed
competency profiles focus on successful behaviors of excellent
performers written in neutral language and, therefore, tends
to "level the playing field" and eliminate significant
are 360° assessments related to performance management?
360° assessments are an excellent early
application of competencies since it focuses on required
standards of excellence and provides positive, helpful input.
After performing 360° assessments, many organizations
imbed competencies in the coaching and performance appraisal
process as a logical next step. This sequencing of applications
helps individuals become aware of and committed to the new
standards prior to being evaluated against them.
does performance management work in a competency-based system?
Ideally performance management is positioned
as a process comprised of steps that include planning, managing,
evaluating and rewarding performance. It is an ongoing process
which aligns and integrates the objectives of the organization,
business units, teams and individuals of which competencies
are the engine.
competencies be tied to compensation (e.g., base pay or
Most often competencies are not tied to
compensation. However, many organizations are beginning
to include competencies in both the appraisal process and
pay decisions. Approaches range from informal influence
to specific, calculated approaches.
does such a competency-based system influence pay?
More often than not, competencies are used
with other factors to narrow the range of appropriate pay.
Most companies reward both competencies and results, though
the mechanisms for doing this vary from organization to
organization depending on their philosophy and practices
around rewards and recognition.
companies implement 360° performance appraisals?
Some organizations commit themselves to
360° performance appraisals. This should be done separately
from the 360° assessment process. In other words, 360°
assessments should not be used as part of the appraisal
process. 360° appraisals are an excellent method for
improving accountability and gaining better insights into
strengths and vulnerabilities from the range of people who
observe other's work most directly. However, these systems
require levels of commitment, honesty, and effort that are
often difficult to sustain over time.
is the difference between a 360° appraisal and a 360°
The 360° appraisal focuses on a multi-source
data gathering process for performance evaluation. 360°
assessments limit the purpose of data gathering to development
and usually makes the numerical data and comments, if solicited,
the property of the feedback receiver only.
are best practices related to succession planning?
SSC strongly advocates developing a succession
planning focus or mission and a set of "guiding principles"
initially. These principles should serve as design criteria
for the program. Often succession planning is reactive,
adhoc, and unstructured. As a result, the process has little
credibility or sustained impact.
criteria are appropriate for succession planning?
At a practical level, we have found that
the criteria applied in succession planning should be multi-dimensional,
simple to assess, and linked to "future" success.
Frequently, we help companies develop customized success
factors of the following types:
a.. Critical Competencies. Behavioral criteria linked to
successful performance of a key role.
b.. Key Experiences. Specific work settings, assignments,
or accomplishments required for growth and credibility of
leaders across the career span.
c.. Results. Objective outcomes of negotiated goals and/or
specific contributions to the team or organization.
the best method for interviewing?
The best available method for overcoming
potential vulnerabilities in the interview process and for
identifying specific behavioral criteria for excellence
is a behaviorally-anchored evaluation. In order to perform
this type of interview, a model that describes objective
criteria of success for a specific job role (e.g., a success
template) is used. In addition, an excellent hiring intervention
should focus on:
a. Traits and leadership skills that are most difficult
to develop on the job through training and development.
b. Those skills that are critical for top performance in
a specific job category.
This method of hiring and selection helps interviewers perform
the most significant part of the screening by using an objective
are best practices for individual development?
It is important for individuals to view
their own development as a continuous improvement process.
Most personal change initiatives fail because of a lack
of follow through. To succeed, individuals should:
a. Keep focused on targeted improvement areas
b. Clarify what excellent performance looks like in action
(e.g., discuss excellent performance with manager/coach/team
members; identify models to emulate)
c. Arrange for frequent behavior practice
d. Solicit frequent feedback
e. Revise and update improvement strategies
f. Track progress by reviewing objective evidence for improvement/continuing