IHRDC Identifies the Eight Best Practices for Designing a Competency Management System

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Based on practical experience, IHRDC’s Best Practices help develop effective competency management systems.

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While completing the widest-ranging project undertaken by its Competency Management group, IHRDC developed eight best practices for implementing competency management systems. The best practices identify the key steps and elements that contribute to successfully building a competent workforce.

Although developed specifically for IHRDC’s competency management system, the eight best practices can be applied by anyone who is developing a new system or improving an existing one. Of the eight practices, the most significant relate to training. Identifying the proper training resources and linking training to specific competencies not only ensures employee success, but saves money by not wasting resources on unnecessary or inadequate training.

IHRDC’s Best Practices
1. Define roles and responsibilities for all participants at the beginning of the project, especially those who are involved in the design, development, implementation, and control of the system. This is applicable whether the project is internally driven or undertaken with an outside partner.
2. Develop and implement a communication plan for all stakeholder groups so everyone has an accurate understanding of the process and goals of competency management. Whenever possible, use existing communication methods, rather than new ones.
3. Use a wide range of information to update job descriptions: current job descriptions; interviews with employees and supervisors; organizational charts; company policies and procedures; and corporate mission and value statements.
4. Limit the number of competency requirements to 40-60 for each position, and make sure they clearly correspond to the job description. Include competencies that are common across a department or organization to create universal skills throughout the company.
5. Ensure participants understand that the process is not a performance review (how they do their jobs) but a competency review (what they are capable of doing), which will identify training and improve job performance.
6. Link competencies to training to provide a clear path to close skill gaps.
7. Select a combination of learning formats (instructor-led, e-learning, or on-the-job training) that are most applicable to the required skill and adapt to different learning styles.
8. Address specific skill gaps through training match-ups, prioritized first by daily job tasks and safety-related compliance requirements, in Individual Learning Plans (IDP).

“Competency management is a large investment in time, effort, and money for many companies,” said Bradford Donohue, IHRDC vice president. “Establishing a set of best practices ensured that this project met KJO’s goals, as well as creating standards to competency management systems in future projects.”

Al-Khafji Joint Operations (KJO), a joint venture between Kuwait Gulf Oil Company and Aramco Gulf Operations Company, engaged IHRDC to develop a competency management system that would provide a standard level of competency for each job area, create clear career paths, succession planning, and unify the bi-national workforce. This project will also help KJO develop IDPs for the entire workforce and to streamline the hiring process. The results will also further future development projects currently in the pipeline.

The main challenge of the project was to develop 760 job competency models for 1,700 employees across technical, business, and field positions within a 16-month time frame. By using the eight best practices as a framework, the project was successfully launched and KJO is achieving its desired competency management goals.

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About IHRDC:
International Human Resources Development Corporation (http://www.ihrdc.com) has been a global leader in training and competency management for the oil and gas industry for more than 40 years, offering the best Instructional Programs, e-Learning resources, and Competency Management services available to the industry today. The company is headquartered in Boston, USA with offices in Houston, Amsterdam, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Lagos.

IHRDC is the proud recipient of 18 Telly Awards, the 2003 Corporate Award for Excellence in Distance Learning Programming, and received the "Petroleum Industry Training Provider of the Year Award" from the GetEnergy organization for 2010, 2011, and 2012.

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Bethany Genier
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