What is Competency Management?

A few years ago, if you would have asked leaders at a healthcare organization what competency management was, they couldn’t have told you. They knew their staff members wanted to transfer more often than in the past. And they knew this was causing training costs to rise.

Similarly, the head of talent for an audio tech company was unfamiliar. When the CEO presented the five-year company vision, he was asked to analyze how the workforce could deliver.

Team leads at an energy company realized that their workforce was growing, and they were relying on contractors more so than in the past. Clients were also requiring detailed skills inventories for proposed teams in project bids.

Enter Competency Management. Wait. What is Competency Management?

Competency management is the process of defining the specific skills required for each role at an organization. This framework guides the company’s talent strategy and assesses employees’ skills. Competency management equips leaders and analysts with skills data at an individual, team, and organizational level.

Competency management guides organizations in winning new business and assembling qualified teams. It also reduces time to productivity — the time it takes for an employee to work on their own.

The healthcare organization we mentioned earlier, found this concept gripping. Could they reduce time in ramping up new and transferring workers? Working with internal and external experts, they compiled a library of 6,500 nursing skills. This list described in detail the skills required for each nursing role.

Four years after launching this extensive resource, the organization saved almost ten million dollars in redundant training costs. It was an amount that far exceeded their expectations.

How did they make this happen? Before, a staff member retested and repeated training each time they moved to a new unit or location. This occurred regardless of his or her experience. Testing methods varied by location, and there was no way to validate what a nurse knew.

Introducing competency management standardized staff member assessments. Supervisors understood what a nurse knew, where skills gaps existed, and the exact training needed. This eliminated a massive amount of unnecessary instruction.

The ROI of Competency Management Is Significant

For the energy company, standardizing skills lowered the likelihood of dangerous and costly mistakes. With skill level reports for each employee, bidding on new projects was easier. Detailed skills inventories set them apart from other companies with potential partners. The quote-to-cash cycle became shorter.

For the healthcare organization, training costs plummeted. And as a bonus, nurses no longer felt their expertise was overlooked when transferred to a new unit. They felt more appreciated. They also welcomed the added mobility and flexibility from the new model. If interested in trying a new role in another location, they could see how qualified they were. It made their skills more transferable.

Competing For Talent In Technical or Regulated Industries

Studies show job candidates, especially younger ones, value flexibility, and mobility. So in that way, competency management can kind of act as a talent magnet as well. A skills roadmap creates clear paths for advancement. Precise skills assessments open opportunities for new roles or locations in the future.

Competency management helps in creating a culture of learning through the organization. When you combine a roadmap with curated development resources, you have a powerful tool to develop your workforce.

Leaders can prove skill levels to external stakeholders with readily available reports. They can also align their workforce with current and future strategic visions for the company.

Of course, competency management doesn’t always make sense for every organization. However, in highly regulated industries competing for talent, it tends to pay for itself many times over. And this payoff tends to be big for sectors relying on skilled, technical workers.

Want to find out if competency management makes sense for your organization? Talk with one of our experts!

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