Competency Structures Pt. 2

Competency Structures
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Catherine Kovar

Welcome to the “You Have to do Competencies, Now What” series. In this fifth session in our series, we continue to focus on competency structures. I’m Catherine Kovar, Principal Advisor of Customer Adoption for Kahuna Workforce Solutions and I’m joined today by Darren Walley of Fugro. Welcome Darren, tell everyone about you and Fugro.

Darren Walley

Hey Catherine and thank you for having me today. My name is Darren Walley. I’m the Subsea and Global Training Manager. I’m also responsible for implementing the new competency framework that we’ve brought into the company. Fugro as a whole, you might have read this, we’re geodata specialists and we’re a global company and we operate in all four regions. So, the target of the company at the moment, obviously, is to create a safe and livable world. Now as part of this, we have interested in the oil and gas sector in the renewables and these are switching, especially as we’re going through a time now where we’re changing energy sources. So, we’re quite into a bit of flux at the moment.

Catherine Kovar

So, when you rolled out your competency programming and you started to do this, you obviously had competency assurance, objectives, and other items. Overall, what are the objectives of your competency program?

Darren Walley

Well, if we take the oil and gas industry, initially we have to apply to certain guidelines. There’s an industry best practice. Now if you look at Inca, for instance, they set down the competencies required for certain jobs off shore within the oil and gas industry. So, we had within Fugro before we started, it was pretty siloed. So each region were doing their own thing. Now, what we’re doing is we’re going down a standardization program. We’ve brought in the new HRIS system and we brought in Kahuna to manage and to basically centralize and standardize the competency system within the entire company. If you look at the model in front of you, we take the competency as a holistic venture. We’re not just looking at one little piece, we’re looking at every piece so that we can deliver everything that we promise that we’re going deliver to the clients. With having that determination to deliver excellence, we build the trust with the clients.

Catherine Kovar

Darren looking at your model, you’ve got this structured out of all the different pieces that you have to engage with, right? The internal influencers, external influencers, and then you’ve got your skills matrix here. Tell me, because I’m looking at this and your technical competency model is very complex and so, one question that I have is, do you make your, as you look at your structure, do you make your competency assignments based upon roles or areas or geographic locations and a nosy question here? What’s your volume of competencies? Because obviously if you’ve got compliance going on, you’ve got things to make sure that people stay safe and as you said, are standardized and doing things the same way across the board. Two questions are, one is, what volume are you talking about, and then how are you assigning these things?

Darren Walley

It’s a bit of everything in there. What we do is we’ve taken industry best practice. We’ve taken industry governance and we’ve put it all together and then we’ve listed the relevant competencies. Then what we’ve done is we’ve exploded it and expanded it. For instance, with the ROV industry, you’ve got the pilot tech two, the pilot tech one, the sub engineer, the supervisor, the superintendent. Each one of those roles has their own elements within the competency framework, the ROV framework that they have to achieve. For instance, if you look at the first set of competency structures for ROV, there’s only 12 competencies. But there’s probably for a brand-new guy into the industry, he’s probably got about 160 assessments just to achieve those 12 competencies. It’s an incredible amount, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to do what’s right. You know, we’ve got to provide our clients with competent people, and this is way we do it. As well as applying competencies to the role, we also have to look at the region they’re in. Obviously, there were certain competencies that we have to put in for the UK and Europe. There’ll be competencies we have to put in for America and ASIA-PAC. So, as well as the role, it’s the region, there’s quite a lot. It’s a very holistic picture when you look at it but it’s coming together really well.

Catherine Kovar

Well, let me interrupt. When you put that competency structure together, then the whole objective also is so that you can overlay those things. It sounds like, initially you said those 12 competencies that then have a hundred different types of elements to it, right? Those kind of become your standard or your core and then you can overlay other things; the location or potentially probably some of the equipment requirements or other things, you can overlay those and have additional things. So, it’s not just one role, it’s role and then some, right? Geographic location and things like that. Like you said, the way you’ve got it structured gives you that flexibility so that if that ROV pilot ends up going to another zone or another area, then you can apply those to them as well, right? The new competencies for that region.

Darren Walley

Yeah, exactly. As I said before, in preparing for tomorrow, the general group is where we would expect an ROV pilot, whether he’s in the UK, Europe, America, Asia-PAC, to be able to get a hundred percent competent without problem. But obviously there’s going to be techniques. There’s going to be equipment. There’s going to be software that they may never see in the UK that they’re operating on a daily basis in America. So, what we do is, as well as the general group, we’ve created a hardware group and we’ve created a software group. What you end up with is the general is a standardization. That’s one competency framework for everybody. The rest of it ends up as being a shopping list. For the user, it’s a way we can see the training gaps. Instantly see the training gaps. For project managers, commercial business development, they can use it as a shopping list. For instance, they could say, I need an ROV pilot who’s a hundred percent in general, who has this software, this equipment has done this type of job. Tell me who you got. It will give them a list, a global list of people who’s available and from there, he can make some phone calls. You end up as well with a mobile workforce as well.

Catherine Kovar

Right? Being able to leverage that expertise across, especially all the different areas that you have.

Darren Walley

Absolutely and by that you would do things like project leakage, whereby if you’ve got a job in the UK that nobody has ever done before within the UK arena, the chances are somebody elsewhere in the globe will have done that and we can we can find them quickly and get them in.

Catherine Kovar

Are you also starting to see that because you can see data across your entire workforce, then you’re able to identify some of the gaps, especially for the trending? Like you’re talking about right now, the industry is shifting and you’re having to address some of those changes and you’re probably looking at some additional competencies that you’re going to be able to deploy and put out there so that you can start ramping them in a new skillset. So, are you able to see the data and say, okay, this is where we’ve got the gaps, and this is where we might need to be focusing on for our business?

Darren Walley

Oh, a hundred percent. Before we had Kahuna and each region was doing its own thing, it was almost impossible to see where the skills lay. Sometimes you could get into the LMS to find that information. But now, where we’ve got the LMS directly feeding into Kahuna, we can instantly see, for instance, they have to do a specific course in survey or ROV, and once they’ve done that course the LMS will then update Kahuna to say, yeah, they’ve done it. That’s good. Instantly I can see any training gaps within Kahuna and any areas that we need to start working on. Because obviously going forward we’re heading into this whole new world of autonomy; we’re going to have to bring in new skillsets and we’re going to have to bring in different competencies. This is preparing for what’s coming. This is one of the great things about Kahuna it’s very easily done. The information’s there and the analytics it produces are incredible.

Catherine Kovar

So being nosy okay, on those, those analytics and stuff like that. You know, that’s one of the challenges that I know I had my in my past. Everything was either in the learning management system or it was on somebody’s spreadsheet somewhere to know who could do what, when, where, and, like you’re saying the isolation. Everybody was in buckets and what we found is once we had the analytics and the information we opened it up to the managers and the director levels and the vice presidents level so they could see the entire workforce and see those other individuals. Are you opening it up to that those types, that level so that they can see across the entire industry? The reason I asked that is because typically everybody has to run to the LMS people and say, can you run me a report on looking for these things? Can you run me a report? I got to the point, I didn’t have to run any report. They were just looking.

Darren Walley

Yeah. I’ve kind of approached this in a couple of ways. Monday mornings basically I’ll spend an hour and I’ll drop a load of reports out of Kahuna or I put it into a spreadsheet and it does all the nice numbers so I can fire it out as a one sheet wonder. This gives the directors and the managers that instant overview and the good thing is they all get the same information. Abu Dhabi gets the same information as Aberdeen and Houston. And the one good thing is actually started a little bit of competition. The managers get to see how they’re doing against the other entities. And it’s like, oh well, we’re not doing so good. Maybe we need to ramp this up a little bit. It’s working well on that respect. The other thing that I’ve been playing with recently and is Power BI and the link between Kahuna and Power BI. That’s going to be invaluable when that’s finally rolled out.

Catherine Kovar

Excellent. So I’m looking at your model and you’ve got all the different systems – the HRIS, the LMS, the skills matrix. You’ve got that integration going on. The other piece that I see from the right side, this kind of goes into your process so I’m kind of jumping probably beyond just the competency structure, but your process is what’s going to drive your structure. I see that you have user, assessor, and reviewer. Can you tell me about what is the process? You’ve got the user and what they do, then the assessor, but this reviewer is an interesting one for me. So can you talk to that?

Darren Walley

Yeah, that’s effectively, getting away from people accusing you of mates rates. What we do is initially when we roll out the competency framework, all the users are mandated to do a self-assessment. They’ll do all the self-assessments. Then what we do is we get one of the senior assessors in that region to go through all the self-assessments and basically make sure they’re correct. Make sure the information is correct. Make sure it’s a good assessment. And then once they’ve done that then basically my job is to review both the self-assessment and the assessor’s remarks and the assessor’s assessment to make sure it’s following the process. Make sure it’s correct. Make sure it’s not just a tick in the box with a little comment. Then once the guys and girls get the hang of it, what I’ll do is I have the reviewer over to the local senior guy. Then what they do is the assessors will start doing the assessments at the workplace properly. The reviewer will basically make sure they continue, and the standards continue. Nobody can accuse anybody of sitting in a bar effectively and rattling through assessments. On top of that, what we’ve got is the auditor. I would sit back here as the global auditor and I can just cherry pick and then just make sure again – the processes are being followed, the standards are being maintained, and also we can open it up to external auditors. If we have one of our clients come in, they want to have a look and want to go through it, we can easily open up the system to them so they can, totally transparent. There’s the competency framework, there’s the assessment, and this is what we’re doing.

Catherine Kovar

Nice, nice. When you look at this, in your competency structure that you’ve built and in the processes that you’re using, what would say is the biggest advantage that you see on the structure? Because my structures, the things that I’ve seen are different than yours, right? And I look at this and go, wow, you’ve got a lot of complexity and you’ve got a lot of volume. My biggest concern when I was doing this was, wow, how am I going to update this stuff? How am I going to maintain this? As we talk about somebody moving from one area to another area and their competencies following them or not following them, and all those became a how do we maintain this? Have you found that the structure that you’ve got set up and everything else is a maintenance animal, you know, talk to me?

Darren Walley

Well, let’s take the long run in the ROV framework. That’s been a long run. I think we’ve had it running now for two years. The actual competency framework itself took two years to build, but that was before we got Kahuna. We’ve had a couple of tweaks, but to be honest with you, it’s pretty much been maintaining in itself. We have a group of SMEs globally that I rely on for input. And so far, occasionally we’ll come up with at the moment, we’re actually adding to it. We’re coming up with better ideas of the way to do things. For instance, we have half a dozen procedures, global procedures, that everybody in the ROV side of the company need to read. What we do is we create the PDF into an e-learning module and that goes into the LMS and we link that into Kahuna. So effectively they have to go into Kahuna, they launch it, they read it, they say they’ve read it, and Kahuna gets updated to say they’ve read it. Ensuring that people read what we’re telling them to read and do the courses that they’re required, with that – yeah, the framework itself is very maintenance free. Which leaves me to obviously carry on with the other frameworks that I’m building currently.

Catherine Kovar

The one thing that resonated with me is the employee accountability because they can actually see everything that’s all about them and they know that it’s being evaluated. You said it early on, that somebody could do their own self-assessment and things like that, do you find people are more open with what they know and what they don’t know and what they need development on?

Darren Walley

No, I think most of the users that we’ve got rattling through their self-assessments are pretty open and honest within this arena. When it comes to your annual evaluation and how are you doing in the company and especially when it comes to a pay rise day, as well as your appraisals and other things, your competency portfolio is taken into account when you’ve got somebody that’s not doing anything and that doesn’t go well when the annual appraisal comes around. But no, I found pretty much the majority of the skills have been pretty honest and open.

Catherine Kovar

In going back to the maintenance thing is, now that you’re looking at industry-wise, you’re going to be making some adjustments and some different skill sets might be your SMEs are just creating new competencies with the different requirements and levels and then that’s what you’re then deploying in Kahuna?

Darren Walley

Yeah. Well, the horrible thing about this is if you look at ROV, that’s been going for forever and survey the same thing, this new whole autonomous vehicle, autonomous systems are brand new. We’ve got nothing to go on. We’re burning the oil to literally burning the oil to try and figure out the competencies that are going to be required. You know? If we’ve got a guy working in a remote center for instance, in Aberdeen, and he’s controlling an ROV in Australia, what competencies does he need to basically improve him competent to fly this unit in Australia? So, yeah, there’s a lot of new technology, a lot of new thinking, a lot of different ways of thinking but luckily within Fugro, we have a great team. We’ve got a great, we’ve got great leadership, and we’re pulling it together.

Catherine Kovar

I always talk to people about this, that the legwork on a lot of is the front end where you’re having to build those competencies. You’re going to have to decide your process and Kahuna is the vehicle that then you take that and you drive that, it becomes the easy part. You have a system that can support those types of competencies and you can have different type of competencies in there and it makes it easier to deploy. I think that’s the biggest thing is now, especially with the industry, we’re seeing a lot of change up. And with that change means, okay, we’ve got new skills that we need deployed. Typically, it would be okay, how are we going to do this and what can we see is happening? Once you deploy it, is it the right competency or not so much, or you need to add items to it. Now I have that, as I would call it, the dashboard to be able to see that. I have the complete mechanism to be able to see how that is going and that’s one of the beauties of the system. So, what do you find is the biggest flexibility that you have in the design that you’ve got laid out?

Darren Walley

If you’re looking at the deployment side of life for when we started and we put the ROV framework together, it involved America, the UK, and Europe. The thing I like is we got, obviously got the framework in there, and then I could just deploy it to those three regions first. So we see how we go. And then once it’s proven in those three regions, then I can just quickly open it up, very quickly open it up to the rest of the world. We’re doing exactly the same thing with the survey framework, the geo-physical frameworks, and the regions where the SMEs are sitting. Those are the regions where we’ll open it up first just to test the water and make sure everything’s good, get any feedback, and then we’ll roll it out to the rest of the world. So, it’s just the speed that I can roll things out, for instance, even a simple global procedure. I can roll that out to the entire world in a matter of clicks. It is a matter of matter of minutes. It doesn’t take long to do at all.

Catherine Kovar

Oh, it gives you that agility that you need.

Darren Walley

Oh, absolutely yeah. And the other thing of course is I can roll it out to a specific group. I could roll it out to the survey framework, for instance, I could direct it specifically to a role, for instance, a surveyor grade one, or a country or a job type. It’s up to me and it’s the same with the reporting. The different reports are just endless. Anything I want is there and getting it out there is just very, very quick, and very easy.

Catherine Kovar

So, you made mention of something, I just want to clarify, you have different levels of the competencies in the system. A lot of people will just do a flat competency. Either you have it or you don’t. Do you have different levels?

Darren Walley

Yeah. Within each competency, say take one of the general ones, which is like “safety at sea.” Within the competency, you would have the rating elements and the rating elements are yes or no. So, I use -Have you done this? Have you done that? Can you do this? Can you do that? But what we’ll do is have the same question. For instance a, a junior guy, his rating elements will mainly be, Are you aware, and then as he grows up it will be, Have you done this? And then again, Have you managed this or have you developed this? So it’s kind of like the same thing, but each role, each level within the role has a different responsibilities, the further they get up. It’s quite a wakeup call when you get an ROV pilot who’s a hundred percent in general then he gets promoted and he wakes up the next morning and finds that he’s not competent in anything. So he has to go running around to get those competencies in and make sure they’re everything’s good to go. But again, the best thing is, he can see where his gaps are. If he needs training, he can go straight to his manager and say, look, I have this huge gap here. I need to get this filled. I need the training to fill it. On the training front, we’ve kind of turned it on its head whereby with procedures, with equipment. When we’ve got a piece of equipment, we now look at what competencies we need for the team to be able to use this equipment. These are the competencies for that equipment. Now, how and what training do we need to fulfill the competencies? So whereas before a lot of companies do this.  Oh, there’s the equipment and they try and figure out some training to go with the equipment, but we’ve turned it on its head. It’s like, okay, what are the competencies for that equipment? What are the training to satisfy the competencies? And that’s the way we’re going now,

Catherine Kovar

Definitely more focused on what training is needed at the right time. Right? So no longer just everything, but just very focused on supporting that competency.

Darren Walley

Absolutely

Catherine Kovar

When you’re looking at your model and some of the things, what are the biggest challenges that you have?

Darren Walley

Change, everybody hates change. Over the last couple of years, I’ve actually turned into a bit of a politician. I think once we get in front of the users and we explain to the users why we’re doing this – they all know why we have to do this – but why we’re doing this in such depth and the benefits it can give them, generally we get a good response. But it’s trying to convince the users, our boys and girls offshore and our boys and girls on the projects, that this doesn’t actually involve any more work. This is something that you are currently doing, just in a different format. We’re going to get rid of the old format and this is how you can do it. Once we run through it, we get a great response. But it’s just that initial push to get them using it and then obviously on top of that, it’s the you know, the management within the company. They’re busy guys. They’re busy all day every day. It’s trying to get time with them to show them the benefits of Kahuna to demonstrate that if you’re going to crew up a job, it doesn’t need to take a three, four-hour meeting. It takes one filter on Kahuna and you’ve got your team. So again, with management, once we can get in front of them and sit down and get their attention and basically go through it step-by-step, this is how this is going to save you time. If it saves you time, it’s saving you money. And also you get the right man on the right job and thus your bottom line at the end of the project is probably going to be a whole lot sweeter.

Catherine Kovar

It almost, as I see it a lot, is competencies have been done for so many years with spreadsheets and the learning management system. It hasn’t been as efficient and effective as we’d like it to be. I think that’s a lot of the baggage that everyone carries coming over and so when you walk in to start talking about this, they immediately look at you like, oh and the roll of the eyes, right? It’s like, wait, no, you’ve got to see this. It’s changed. That way they can see the value with the system and how you’re doing it and the flexibility that it has and definitely the standardization that it provides. But when I say standardization, you also have that flexibility. That was the one thing that I felt that, and I’m sure you’ve gone through that when you were working with each one of your different regions, they felt like they weren’t going have anything common and that they’re each one of them is special. Then it’s trying to bring them around to say, yes you are special and yes you do have certain things that are special, but these are the core things or the foundational things that everybody needs. Right? Then they find a little bit more of the commonality, but it was a challenge because everybody is special, and everybody is unique, and each region is unique.

Darren Walley

Yeah, it was huge. Especially when you’re developing a competency framework from scratch and you’re trying to get the Europeans and the Americans to agree on a framework and I’m stuck in the middle. I don’t know how many meetings I’ve had where I think the catch phrase of the meeting was “just because you’ve been doing it that way, doesn’t make it right”. You know? So yeah, it’s compromise, but it does take time. You always reach that that happy medium where one side is happy, and the other side is happy so then you move on. There would be absolutely no point in rolling this out if we didn’t have global consensus and global standardization because it would just never get done.

Catherine Kovar

But you had to get them to the table first to be able to have that commonality and that agreement in order for it to move further along.

Darren Walley

Oh, absolutely. So yeah, so a lot of very long nights, a lot of very hard conversations. But it’s coming together. Slowly, slowly, but it’s coming together.

Catherine Kovar

Well, congrats. Looking at the complexity and especially with what y’all do and obviously the safety and the development of individuals is critical to the business. If I’m looking for somebody from a company that has something that can show me that they take their people seriously, I think this is obviously one that shows that you care about your employees, you care about your business, and the development of them. Not only from a safety and compliance standpoint but also a growth standpoint. Hats off to you! Y’all have done an awesome job. Your model is very complex but it lets people know that it might be complex but when you go to execute it, it can be made easy. Right?

Darren Walley

Yeah, exactly. It looks complex, but the trick is to be able to do it in such a way as it basically maintains itself. For instance, if you look at the model there. We onboard an employee through the HRIS and automatically that information is fed through to Kahuna. Kahuna recognizes the person; his role and automatically applies the relevant competency structure with the relevant training with the relevant rating elements and basically all the user has to do is log on and crack on. That’s it.

Catherine Kovar

Perfect. Well, Darren, I appreciate you sharing your expertise and your program design today. Really appreciate it. And, go Fugro!

Darren Walley

Thank you.

If you missed the last episode in this series, Competency Structures, Pt.1, check it out here.

Be sure to subscribe to the #REALskilling podcast to stay up to date and access the latest trends, best practices, industry news, and insights to help you kick-start your competency program.

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