Patricia Esslinger, Groupware Facilitator
Using Collaborative Meeting Technology to
Develop Competency Models

Using collaborative meeting technology, you can quickly identify competencies needed in your organization and develop a usable model with a high degree of acceptance as a valuable tool for human resources management. Our approach streamlines and focuses the process so that you can build a model in a little over a month. (The traditional process can take years.) In a one-day computer-assisted meeting, subject matter experts (SMEs) in your organization do the work of 3 or 4 focus group sessions and come out with a draft model. It's not only faster; it's better because all of the SMEs get full opportunity to react to and build upon the ideas of others. Marketing the resulting model throughout the organization so that it can be applied to all appropriate HR decisions is made much easier by the feeling of ownership and commitment that high performers, well-regarded incumbents, and key managers gain from participating in the process.

The model includes

Usually we* like to end up with about 6 groupings, each one with 2 to 6 competencies (for a total of about 20 competencies.) Three to five behavioral indicators for each competency is nice, with an example from the BEIs for most behavioral indicators.
*Pat partnered with Joanna Lange of JGL/HRS to develop this process.

The 5 steps in the development process are:

  1. Derive a starter list of competencies and behavioral indicators from any other work done on competencies related to the occupation .
  2. Subject matter experts (SMEs -- well-respected incumbents of the positions and supervisors/managers) assess the starter list via a web-based questionnaire, identifying significant omissions and redundancy and indicating relative importance of competencies.
  3. Develop an improved starter list based on the questionnaire responses.
  4. Computer-assisted meetings, in which the SMEs collaboratively add, delete, combine, and improve competencies and behavioral indicators (focusing their attention on the competencies that were identified as particularly important in the web-based questionnaire), group the competencies into clusters, and identify those appropriate for various levels and/or roles within the occupation. The result is a draft competency model.
  5. Behavioral event interviews (BEIs) with star performers in the occupation to validate and enrich the draft, make it even more relevant to the actual work, suggest ways to streamline it further, improve the language, and collect action statements that serve as examples of star-level competence. This results in a final draft model ready for top management approval.