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Posts Tagged ‘competency’

I’m working on a video script. Take a look.

Let’s take a minute to look at the difference between a competency model and a proficiency definition.
A competency model is the traditional way to identify what needs to be included in a typical training program.
A competency model breaks things down into three parts…Skills.. Knowledge.. and Attitudes. For example, an employee demonstrates good listening skills or an employee knows the features and benefits of our products are examples of competencies.
When you build a competency model you end up with a long list of items to include in training. The downside of this approach is that it often misses how competencies work together in different combination to produce a desired result.
For example, knowing the features and benefits of our products is part of how a salesperson makes a presentation, answers questions and even fills out an order.
A proficiency model, on the other hand, looks at the world from a completely different point of view. Proficiency is both a measure of performance and a set of observable behaviors that describe what a proficient employee produces and how the employee must work to achieve those results. Think of proficiency as a picture or snap shot of what success looks like on the job.
So with these two definitions in mind, here is the important difference. With a competency model, you can master all the competencies and not produce the desired results on the job. In other words, all the pieces don’t add up to the whole.
With a proficiency definition, the end result is completely spelled out and training doesn’t end until the employee becomes proficient. The result is important rather than all the pieces and parts.

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With Learning Paths, we use proficiency models or proficiency definitions rather than competency models.  This video briefly describes the difference.  In many respects, with a proficiency model we are looking at the big picture and the whole job or task rather than small pieces.  Also instead of looking a capabilities, we are looking at measurable actions.

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by billedgar8322Competency models look at a task, job or something like teamwork or leadership and ask the question what are the skills, knowledge and attitudes required.  Some models replace attitudes with attributes.  For our discussion either one fits.  What you end up with is groups of statements that break everything down into small pieces.  A sales competency might be around something like asking good questions or questioning skills.

When you break things down into small parts it looks like the picture of car parts above.  You’ve got a lot of pieces that you may not recognize as a car any more and you probably couldn’t put it back together again.  What’s missing is how things work together and what you need to do all at the same time. Salespeople don’t just ask good questions in isolation.  It’s part of an interactive discussion or presentation that is free flowing.  It’s not a questionnaire.

Instead if you start with a results measure such as gathers critical information you end up teaching the interactive process and not just the pieces.  In addition to the need to do things all at the same time, there is always an element of quality and time required.  Responding to a customer quickly shows a higher level of performance.  I’d ask the question, who is more competent, someone who got 800 on their SAT or one who got the same score in half the time?

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There’s always a lot of dispute about the value of a formal education. Most of what people learn comes from many other sources including experience and practice. Right now there are 18 billionaires, 7 Presidents and 10 nobel prize winners who were either college or high school drop outs. I did a little research to see if I could find more famous drop outs. Here are some you might recognize. I’ll start with the grade school and high school drop outs. And yes…William Shakespere made the list. Tomorrow I’ll post the college drop outs.

Count Basie                      Jack Benny                        Humphrey Bogart

Peter Bogdanovich           Whoopie Goldberg           Benny Goodman

Danny Thomas                  Peter Ustinov                    Patrick Stewart.

Anthony Quinn                 Julie London                     Sophia Loren

Joe Louis                           Roy Rogers                       Olivia Newton-John

Rosa Parks                        Mary Pickford                   Sydney Poitier

Tommy Lasorda                Richard Branson               Alfred E. Smith

Charles Chaplin                 Angelina Jolie                   Henry J. Kaiser

Louis Lamour                    John Major                        Groucho Marx

Sean Connery.                   Jack Kent Cooke               Noel Coward

Joan Crawford                  Robert De Niro                 Gerard Depardieu

Thomas Dolby                   Sonny Bono                      Duke Ellington

Ella Fitzgerald                   Aretha Franklin                 Horace Greeley

Robert Maxwell                Rod McKuen                    John Jacob Astor

Irving Berlin                      Chuck Berry                      Milton Bradley

Charles Bronson                James Caan                       Agatha Christie

Mark Twain                       Joseph Conrad                  Simon Cowell

Johnny Depp                     Walt Disney                      Isadora Duncan

Matt Drudge                     Charles Dow                     Millard Fillmore

Benjamin Franklin             James Garner                     Mahatma Ghandi

Samuel Gompers               Barry Gordie                     Gene Hackman

Herman Melville               Claude Monet                   Charles Rangall

John D. Rockefeller          Colonel Sanders                William Soroyan

William Shakespere           John Phillip Sousa             James Taylor

Walt Whitman                   Adolph Zukor

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bilde.jpgAs you write out proficiency definitions, it’s important to set a level for that proficiency.  Here’s a quick example, let’s take baseball.  Three major things you need to do is hit, pitch and field.  Take hitting.  While the technique is similar, hitting a 40mph fastball is different than hitting a 90mph fastball.  It’s also different hitting in a little league game and hitting in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series.

Tansfer this to sales.  Closing a sale with a retail customer is different than a multi-million dollar deal with a CEO. 

So you probably can set up several proficiency levels from a basic level for new employees to high performance.  Then as you develop your training, you can work on moving trainees from one level to the next.

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We tend to look at proficiency and time to proficiency as major measures for training.  We look at proficiency as the results or output of doing something.  It’s not being able to or knowledgeable about but rather demonstrating a level of performance. 

Once you have that definition, you can then look at competencies that might lead to that level of proficiency or the learning objectives for a piece of training that will lead to that level of performance.  All too often people start out with a competency model which is skills, knowledge and attitudues or attributes and miss how these competencies connect and interact to lead to a level of performance. 

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