Employee assessment and performance management is a crucial role of HR, and one that impacts business performance, goal achievement, and leadership development. While performance appraisal and employee assessment has traditionally been tied to factors such as actual personal output and performance, new models are replacing simple productivity assessment with more complex assessments capable of measuring how an individual’s behavior impacts their team and the productivity of their team or those under them.
Competency frameworks, which measure soft skills, behavior, and factors such as emotional intelligence, are extremely valuable. A well-implemented competency framework impacts recruitment, talent management, performance management, and leadership development.
Developing Role-Based Competencies
Most competency frameworks include several layers of competencies, which include core competencies for the organization and then layers of competencies applied to employees in different levels of leadership or technical positions. If you want to utilize competencies for employee assessment, whether in hiring or in performance management, you also have to ensure that role-based competencies are in place.
This means working with an employee assessment organization to determine which competencies contribute to success in individual roles or teams. Here, you want to look at how individual performance impacts productivity and team productivity, which factors enable success in the role (such as communication, EQ, etc.) and map competencies to success inside roles based on factors such as actual work being performed, level of collaboration required, external communication required, and so on.
No competency framework should be static. Your organizational needs and requirements will change dramatically over time, and this time can be fairly short. Integrating competency frameworks into employee assessment means creating a feedback loop where you can continue to improve the framework, scoring methods, and actual assessment over time.
Here, you want to consider:
- Who is handling employee assessment? What are they responsible for?
- Are roles and responsibilities in assessment clearly documented?
- How is assessment data used, who collects it, who interprets it?
- Is third-party feedback such as from a manager or colleagues included in assessing competencies? How is this managed.
- Are employees involved in the process? Can they offer input? Are they fully aware of what is being tested?
- Are relationships between competencies and role performance validated by data? Do you have a program in place to continue this validation?
Roles change over time, which can mean that required competencies change. The easiest way to manage this is to create a feedback loop, where competencies are correlated to performance data, where employees can give their own input on the validity of the competency, and where the quality of competency assessment is managed to prevent bias.
Competency is Not Performance
While it’s easy to implement a competency framework and use it as a sole measure of performance, it’s important to prevent this. Competency frameworks can help you to create a larger picture of performance, to see how and where employees are excelling, how they are contributing to their teams as a whole, and if they are performing their job well. These things are important, but actual job output is important as well. Competency frameworks should always be implemented alongside a performance management model to validate competencies. Traditional appraisals focused on standards and quantifiable outcomes such as task completion will always be important.
A competency framework can help you to improve the quality of performance management, which will, in turn, help you to improve hiring and leadership management. If you know what contributes to success in a role and in a team, you can better hire for those factors, better reward individuals who develop those competencies, and work to train people to execute.