Identifying and Using Generic and Culture-Specific

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Competency Development Strategies to Build Bench

Strength

How is it possible to ‘‘build’’ competencies? The answer is to use competency

development strategies. Competency development strategies are methods by

which individuals can improve their competencies. Competency development

strategies close gaps between what should be (as described in a competency

model) and what is (as measured by approaches such as 360-degree assessments

and assessment centers). Examples of competency development strategies

may include the following:

Attending a Classroom Training Course

Participating in Online Training

Reading a Book

Reading an Article

Listening to an Audiotape

Watching a Videotape

These are just examples, and many other approaches are possible. Of course,

to be successful, the developmental strategy must be focused on the competency.

Hence, if the competency to be developed is ‘‘budgeting skill,’’ then the

developmental strategy should be focused on that topic.

Competency development strategies may be divided into two categories:

(1) generic and (2) corporate culture-specific. A generic competency development

strategy is necessarily general. To build budgeting skill, then, any book

on the topic will do. Any training program on budgeting will do. No effort is

made to tie the development strategy to the unique conditions prevailing in

the corporate culture.

A corporate culture-specific development strategy, on the other hand, is

specific to the organization. To build budgeting skill, an individual might do

the following:

Watch (shadow) someone in the organization who is especially good at

budgeting.

Perform budgeting with someone in the company.

Interview someone experienced in the company about what is necessary

for an acceptable or even exemplary budget.

Many resources exist to identify generic development strategies.12 Those

can be purchased from outside vendors, found in books, or uncovered on the

Web. All that is needed is to identify appropriate but general material linked

to every competency in a competency model. Corporate culture-specific development

strategies require investigation. One way to identify them is to identify

exemplary performers—individuals who are particularly good at demonstrating

a competency. Then interview them. For example, ask them:

Who in this organization would you advise people to talk to if they want

to build this competency?

What kind of work activities or assignments should individuals be given

if they are to build this competency in this organization?

Where should people go to find centers of excellence for this competency

in this organization?

How would you advise someone in this company who wants to build

this competency to go about learning how it is done here?

Use the interview guide provided in Exhibit 4-1 for this purpose. Then feed

back the interview results to exemplary performers, verify that the assignments

would actually build the targeted competencies in the company, and put them

online so that individuals may access them as they prepare their individual

development plans.