Last month, we took a look at competency based job training and the important first step of defining success. Next, it’s time to understand how far the organization is from reaching its goals and how much work it’s going to take to get there.
Step 2: Explore the Gap
Developing a competency based program must include assessing current employee knowledge and skills. It’s not uncommon to discover that employees already have many of the skills they need. To avoid frustrating and boring employees with redundant training, it’s important not to create a program that covers too much of what they already know. On the other hand, you may also find some surprising gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed. For example, if processes or job requirements have changed significantly in the past few years, new employees may be coming in to an environment where they receive conflicting advice about how things are supposed to be done. This would indicate gaps in skills or knowledge across the workforce—including both long time and new workers.
Step 3: Identify Universal Competencies
What do employees really need to know to do their jobs well? Engaging the workforce in identifying key skills may be helpful at this stage. For example, experienced employees have likely seen common mistakes made by new workers. They may have good suggestions for competencies to add to the training program. Be sure to identify competencies that are:
(a) applicable to a large number of employees
(b) able to be learned
(c) trackable and measureable
For example, good communication is a skill that can be learned. Knowledge in this area can be transferred through training and developed with practice. Improvement can also be measured by tracking incidents and processes where poor communication is causing delays, errors, and conflict.
Generalities and Specifics Matter
Basics like understanding the employee handbook and knowing emergency protocols are broad areas of competence that apply across an organization. But it’s also beneficial to drill down and create competency profiles for smaller groups based on the specifics of the job. For example, installation and maintenance crews that work off-site may require in-depth training on a different set of skills than those who work within the facility. Creating separate modules that target specific business objectives by focusing on high-value skills can help make a training program show results more quickly.
Next month, we will explore more of the characteristics of a successful job competency training program—and what type of outcomes to expect.