Please stop creating complex competency models!

Please HR, stop creating elaborate competency models. In my new role, I started right in the standard mid-year professional development review. Those who have read my blog before know I’m not a big fan of the way professional development is structured (it forgets the whole learning part). A big reason for my dislike are complex competency models.

Complex competency models hinder organizations and remove agility. They are a most unholistic approach to supporting personal growth.

By the time you have rated yourself on five core competencies and another nine or so others, worked out how to develop each, what value is this really brining the organization? 

The models involve vague, pointless categories. For example, how does one rate themselves against the competency of “innovation” (on a scale of 1-3)? How is it a even competency? What is this bringing to the organization apart from a headache for my manager and those who report to me, who also have to work through such a structured system.

Engagement Killer

It's a great way to kill engagement and the opposite of what a true learning organization really is. Big competency models are make-work for HR. They impress upon us the view that our organization doesn't trust us to develop ourselves, or that we will develop in the “wrong” direction. 

We don’t need big competency models. Call it what you want - professional, personal, development, improvement - members of organizations have two drivers of personal growththat their organization can support: business values and goals and personal values and goals:

Business Goals and Values > Accountabilities > Goals > Learning Goals + Networks

Life Dreams and Personal Values > Personal Goals > Learning Goals + Networks

These are never linear and feed into each other - our lives are learning journeys and learning conversations. They require reflection and building of learning networks. They require open minds and an open leadership that coaches people through these sometimes difficult and often surprising paths. Organizations that support such a view can remain agile and responsive to change while also supporting personal growth - because their employees are also open and responsive.

The key measurement is sharing - how will you share back the results of your learning, including all wrong paths and failure, with others, with your organization, with your networks? There, you have a learning organization.

You may need to measure standard levels of ability in SME areas, but let the SMEs determine their own levels of ability against which to be measured.

This has worked

I’ve been lucky to have worked at two companies that wanted to get away from traditional modes of development. Both used versions of my personal learning plan model to help employees get more enthused about their learning in a more holistic way. I have also got emails from around the world from teachers at schools, the military, and workplaces who are trying it out.

Here's my post on Personal Learning Plans. Let me know what you think...