Competency-based learning is an excellent approach for companies that want to bridge the skills gap and have the best talent for each role. It also powers career development and provides employees with the ability to close personal skill gaps, become better at what they do and feel more confident about their abilities.
With the right implementation strategy, competency-based learning might turn out to be an efficient motivator for employees and an excellent solution to boost company performance.
One of the first steps in adopting a competency-based learning system is to design a competency map for all roles in your company. Essentially it’s all about letting people know what they should do – specific tasks, concrete skills – to be great at their job.
Competency levels (limited, general, skilled, expert) with clear descriptions might help people better understand their development needs and can help L&D specialists to identify the most suitable training programs. People can compare their performance against the matrix and assess their strengths and weaknesses.
It may prove an effective motivator as well, as one can see specific things to be improved instead of feeling frustrated with a general and vague feedback that their overall performance does not meet the expectations.
Moreover, if you assess competences available in the company, you have a clear situation of each employee and find suitable solutions whenever needed.
Divide and conquer
Let us think about a more general task, such as “customer-focused presentation delivery”; at least three competencies are required to perform this task well: communication, account management, and field service delivery.
If performance is not as expected, perhaps one of the competences needs some additional, tailor-cut training and by using it as a learning opportunity, you can help your talent be better at their job.
An employee might have exceptionally account management skills, might be very good on the field with customers, but might lack some communication skills to deliver outstanding presentations. Instead of going to a long training for all competencies needed for the entire job, a specific program might be a more suitable (not to mention cost-effective) solution.
Even this competence might be broken down into specific skills, such as public speaking, active listening techniques, how to design PowerPoint presentations, how to use teleconference or video conference equipment, etc.
Set realistic timeframes
Address skill gaps effectively, making sure that expectations and realities meet. Set a manageable time frame to allow people to monitor their progress and to feel more confident about their learning process.
Time is of the essence, especially for employees juggling between several projects and clients, so learning should not be seen as an additional task in an already busy schedule, but as an opportunity to grow and to develop.
Do not speed things up and allow each person to reach their full potential at their own pace. Patience will eventually pay off if you want long term results for your employees and your company.
Negotiate time frames, learning outcomes, learning methods with the staff involved to allow them to choose the best option. Keep in mind that people have different learning preferences and offer alternatives as much as possible.
Some might prefer online training, as it is always available one click away, some might prefer a blended approach, and some feel more comfortable with offline programs.
Last but not least, include competency-based learning in career planning and motivate staff according to personal progress. Career action plans should be as personal as possible and as concrete as possible to allow each employee to address weaknesses and boost strengths.
Read more: 3 Basic tips for strategic career planning
Use in-house resources
Use the competency map to identify which employees perform better and at which tasks. Make the most of in-house talents and pair up experts with novices whenever possible.
For a hands-on learning approach, that addresses specific competencies, an expert willing to share his experience could be a great solution.
Online learning tools and videoconference systems are excellent for making employees from different locations learn from one another.
Competence-based learning models are effective training solutions for both companies and employees. When strategically implemented, they allow L&D specialists to quickly identify possible weaknesses and suitable learning programs.
Competencies maps are an excellent tool to keep track of all the resources of your talent and let them share their experience by practicing together. With more practice, you build skills, with more skills you build competencies and with competencies you build confidence.