In the standard learning and HR press we hear every day about competencies and competency assessment. I find "competence" a strange description for a set of skills and behaviours that mean you may become a success in any given organization. I would always hope to be more than competent.
But why should L&D or HR "own" competency assessment. I found this confusing as the people who most understood what it meant to be a success in a role were others in the role. HR competencies tend to be vague and company-wide ("a team player"), rather than specific to a role.
I decided to try an experiment. Different expertise groups (i.e. developers, designers, PMs, sales) would collaborate to create their own shared measures of being successful in the organization. I ran a brainstorming exercise to help them work together to uncover the skills and behaviours for different levels of expertise (and shared values of the group as a whole). Once the levels of expertise were agreed upon, everyone self-assessed and the group agreed or discussed any disagreements. The discussions continued in the enterprise social network.
The goal was that for any project requirement, a project manager would know exactly what needed to request from resourcing and trust the people on their team. It also meant that hiring requirements could be more specific and cultural fit interviews more effective. We also then tailored onboarding more specifically to a new hire's needs.
Crowdsourcing and assessing levels of ability also meant each group was responsible for judging when someone progressed to a higher level of ability. This could involve project work, internal mini projects, presentations, coaching others, showing their work on the enterprise social network and - yes because the groups themselves decided - sometimes a test as a gap assessment.
The idea fits well with Eric Mosley's Crowdsourced Performance Review.
Was it a success?
I was lucky. I worked in a matrix organization with no real hierarchy and a high degree of trust. This kind of thing fitted very much with the culture of the organization, freeing up HR time that could be focussed on other business outcomes. I believe the crowd as gatekeeper to your success, rather than a reporting manager, is a better solution to performance assessments if the crowd decides and owns the criteria.