Are Competencies Enough to Build Strong Teams?

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Are Competencies Enough to Build Strong Teams?

Employee assessment tactics like behavioral competencies are extremely popular in HR, and often for good reason.

Recognizing how and why an individual will react and act in any given situation gives leaders the opportunity to put those people into work environments where they will excel, to offer training to help people excel, and to recognize when people will and will not work together.

Behavioral competencies are also more and more often used to find and root out characteristics that will allow teams to work well together.

But, are they enough to ensure teams will work well together? That depends on the competencies and the people involved.

In most cases, behavioral competencies can add a great deal to team-building,

Building Around Key People

In most cases, the ideal way to build a team is to set its purpose, define a team objective fitting into larger business objectives, and identify key roles and responsibilities that will fulfill that.

For example, if your team is set up around the goal of improving UX, you know you need a UX manager and supports for that person.

While not every team has a key role, many do, and you should select your key role and build the team around that person when possible.

Here, employee assessment to determine behavioral competencies becomes extremely valuable.

Balancing New and Experienced People

While it’s not always possible to put together a completely internal team, it’s always a good idea to ensure that most of your team has experience in the organization, experience with processes, and experience with company culture. You can achieve this by onboarding new hires into other teams so they can build experience before moving them into an existing team, by creating a new team from existing employees, or by creating teams composed of about 75% experienced people and 25% new.

Here, you can use tools such as employee benchmarking and success profiles to determine when new people are or are not ready to move into a new team, which will obviously have much less in terms of established work-methods and goals.

Leveling Emotional Intelligence

Ideally, everyone on your team should have a high level of emotional intelligence. However, this isn’t always possible. Your goal should be to review the needs of key roles and move people into the team who can meet those needs.

For example, if someone is largely in a supportive role, they have to be good at collaboration and understanding communication.

However, they also have to be able to take on some autonomy, complete work to get it out of the way of the key role and be able to speak or up discuss when they think things are not going well.

Fitting Skills and Competencies Together

Behavioral competencies do not typically include hard skills such as software design, which means you will have to balance both hard skills and competencies to create a strong team.

Someone who is very good at their job may miss competencies such as dedication and creativity, which may be necessary for the team. If you have an excess of skills and not enough behavioral competencies, you may find that work slows through lack of drive, creativity, or motivation.

If you have people with desired behaviors but not enough skills, you may have to actually pause the team to train employees. A balance of both, so that everyone has time to catch up while still contributing, is likely your best option.

No matter how your teams work, it’s important that they be able to work at the same level, be able to communicate in the same ways, and that they all contribute to team goals. This may be realized through creating a support network for a single employee, creating a team of equals who each contribute in different ways through different behaviors, or through creating a balance of hard skills and behavioral competencies. In every case, simply looking at behavior won’t help you to create your strongest team.


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