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I am posting the comment below on behalf of Cafe friend and reader Nancy J. Hess. Nancy, I'm not sure why you were having difficulty with this, but Typepad certainly has its occasional fits of temper. I shared your thoughts here so that Margaret and others could enjoy and respond to them.(AB)

Your thought resonate with my own. Recently, I posted a blog article, "Coaching Toward Competencies"http://twurl.nl/6c28ow in which I talked about how competency modeling is highly relevent for leadership coaching today. Like you, back in the 90"s I saw tremendous shifts occur in organizations that committed to a ground up process of competency modeling. Employees became engaged, the culture was shaped by a shared language which developed out of the process and the link between compensation and competency development felt revolutionary in some important ways. So, what happened? I have clients who report to me that their competency programs are alive and well. So, for some it has become a way of life in the organization. For others, I am not so sure. When leaders change, a competency program may seem, to the newly inducted, well, foreign. But also, I think to some extency, competency development simply evolved and became embedded in the ways we think about pay. For instance, when I develop performance and compensation systems for clients, I explain progression through the pay range in terms of competency development and use words like "accelerate" and "de-celerate". And finally, I also think the long term commitment required to develop a competency mode is out of sync with the short term focus of organization's today. I find that I must present competency concepts and ideas in chunks in order to make it attractive. This is not ideal, and if we can generate new energy and re-investment in the process, we will go a long way toward improving employee engagement in organizations. Nancy

Nancy, it's great to hear that some of your clients are enthusiastic about applying a competency approach. I really believe that a deeper understanding of their applications can transform performance management into more valuable business interaction.

Perhaps we should ask companies that support competencies to tell us more about why they are important to employees and their work. Then use the findings to provide insight and encourage others.

As you mentioned, I have worked with companies that just plain struggled with competencies, but really could have benefited from the insight they provide. So part of it must be the culture of the organization. Which just says to me that I need to continue to find ways to make the translation to their culture more meaningful and practical for their managers.

It can seem like so few relationships at work are truly satisfying, yet as the research shows, relationships have the deepest impact on our happiness. What if we turned this around, especially at those companies? Imagine the impact on their work lives.


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