Competency Management Missteps

Competency Management Missteps


“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Bill Gates

Competency management can sometimes be daunting. Implementing a new system in your organization can be a tedious process. There can be setbacks along the way, but have no fear, not only can we guide you in simple steps to set up your system, but we want you to learn from the common mistakes that we’ve seen. Here are five of the most common competency management missteps.

Misstep 1: Biting off more than you can chew

“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.”

Roy Ash, Litton Industries

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious or following a “sink or swim” approach but when it comes to implementing a new competency management system it’s risky to try and do it all at once. One of the top competency management missteps is going too big, too fast.

Think of rolling out your competency management system as a fine multi-course dinner, rather than an all-you-can-eat buffet. You want a well-curated, sensical approach that is unveiled piece by piece, rather than a disordered smorgasbord that will leave your HR and management teams feeling like they have a massive mess to clean up.

It is vital to implement your new competency management system in step by step measures that make sense for your company. Start with a smaller project that can be designed and implemented in a relatively short period. You can then use this as a model in future projects for what worked and what might need some more fine-tuning.

Also remember to keep this first step simple, focused and well-defined. Identify key roles, job duties and employee skills that are most vital to your company initially. From there you can build upon your successes and avoid further competency management missteps.


Misstep 2: Competency complexity

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”


One of the most common missteps in competency management is an abuse and misuse of language and logic. Some companies can create too many levels, while others simply create too many competencies. Still, others can have run-on competencies and redundant competencies. All of these missteps overcomplicate, confuse and muddle competency management.

Your organization will want to identify the most essential competency profiles and from there, only the most necessary competency lists. Adding too many competencies will drown your system in a flood of complication.

In addition to a simplified number, simplified words are needed. Many competencies can be misconstrued through poorly worded, jargon-filled, unclear language. Be simple, be specific and avoid repeating synonymous competencies.


Misstep 3: Not tailoring your system to your company

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.”

Tony Robbins

Competency management is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you want the most out of the information and analytics of your system, it must be tailored to meet your company’s needs.

You’ll need to look both inside and outside your organization for meaningful data that can power your competencies. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, however. There are many sources within your industry, governmental agencies and even in your own organization that can lead you to the specific competencies that matter to you.

Once identified and adapted to an organization’s needs, key skills and competencies can actually lead to major growth, adaptations and saving money for many companies. Organizations can find that certain teams are repeating work unnecessarily or key tasks are falling by the wayside. By customizing competencies, you can also prevent further content management missteps.

Misstep 4: Poor structural integrity

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”

Jim Rohn

When designing the structure of your competency management system you want to lead with a model of accessibility. You want the system to be usable.

Consider everyone in the company, from the bottom to the top, and remember that not everyone will have the same intricate knowledge of the system. You don’t want your competency model growing into a massive overload of information that only one or two people in your company can sift through.

While usability should always be first and foremost, businesses must also consider growth. Built into the smaller pilot model should be a model for growth as more departments, skills and competencies are added. Like any sound structure you want your competency profiles to build from level to level to avoid competency management missteps.

Take care with the structure that you are setting as the foundation so that you are not building a house of cards.


Misstep 5: Rushed results and follow-through fails

“I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through – then follow through.”

Eddie Rickenbacker

As with any new system, there will be trials, errors, successes and modifications necessary. There will be competency management missteps, but there are ways to ensure your footing as well.

Just as an organization is always growing and adapting, a management system will also need to continue to evolve. Throughout the process of implementation, it will be crucial to interview, and continue to ask questions and solicit feedback (even criticism) from employees and management. Starting small and slowly gaining momentum will involve testing, re-testing and constant data analysis.

Finally, it is not always easy to see a competency management system implemented, even without the missteps. Ensuring that there is a devoted team to the project will help see the system through. Additionally, don’t let this team become isolated and so focused on their task that they miss out on the feedback from employees directly affected by the management system. Following through means listening to feedback and criticism, making modifications when necessary, starting small and building a solid structure.

Are you having competency management missteps and need some questions answered? Reach out. Did you make missteps along the way that other people can learn from? Share your advice.





How Talent Management Software Can Benefit Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

How Talent Management Software Can Benefit Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Times are good in the U.S. economy and in the workforce. It’s hard to imagine there could be any downsides to this boom, but for many small and medium-sized businesses competing with large enterprises and corporations, attracting, retaining and investing in talent becomes a big challenge. The solution for small and medium-sized businesses to keep their competitive edge lies in talent management software.

Talent management software is a tool to manage talent that automates, consolidates and streamlines talent management. It is a vital component to any sized business. Talent management software focuses on employee recruiting, development, performance management, compensation and succession planning. All of which are crucial in keeping businesses thriving and holding on to their most vital resource: employees.

We’ve added nearly three million jobs in the last couple years and we have the lowest unemployment rate in 18 years.This is all fantastic news, right? In many respects, yes, but as more and more people find jobs, the market becomes talent-driven and large businesses with the capital often siphon off the best talent. As that talent pool evaporates, small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) are facing a crisis in talent management. Talent management software can sometimes make the difference in whether SMBs sink or swim in this new market.

Talent Management Software

According to the State of Small Business Report, 50% of SMB owners report that hiring new employees was one of their top challenges. Hiring is a tough, time consuming and expensive process. Employee turnover is high, 32% total separations was the national average in 2017, according to Mercer. This is a big cost for businesses already struggling with human capital management.

It is often a monumental task for HR departments and managers to effectively manage constantly evolving industries, technologies and work culture shifts, while also interviewing and managing new hires. HR departments stay small as companies grow and it is often improbable, if not impossible, to effectively manage talent with the systems used in the past. With the latest technology of talent management software, SMBs can transition talent management from a hectic, pain-filled process into a thriving environment for employees, management and owners alike.

One of SMBs greatest assets is their familial workplace culture. Many employees choose to work for smaller businesses as opposed to corporations because they value relationships and employee-centered work culture. In the current economy, with competition for talent so aggressive, management is often stretched so thin with attracting and retaining their talent that they are unable to find time for those on-on-one interactions and meaningful connections that originally brought employees to SMBs in the first place. The end result, more employee turnover.

In order to continue to retain and manage employees, identify areas for new trainings and employee development, HR departments and managers are finding increased resilience and new opportunities for managing human capital with talent management software.

Growth is often a primary drive for SMBs. While some may be focusing on revenue growth, others may be geared toward expansion in the industry or reaching consumers on a larger level. No matter the reason or mechanism behind the growth, any sized business can benefit from talent management software. In the growth stage from small to medium-sized, or medium-sized to large, businesses want to keep their personable nature. The key to maintaining employee-manager relationships and letting HR departments most effectively do their job, of course, lies in technology.

Any company’s greatest asset is its human asset. People matter, their satisfaction in the workplace matters. Happy employees often signal to the overall health of the company. It may seem Talent Management Softwarecounterintuitive for a software to be able to foster the happiness and health of workplace culture, but the overwhelming majority of businesses who employ some form of talent management inevitably experience greater employee retention, and recognized the strategic value of talent management systems and software.

With the use of talent management software, SMBs create the framework to be able to: accurately identify employee skills, place employees on projects or in areas where their strengths can be put to best use, target key trainings that will increase productivity, identify areas for employee development, increase productivity and save time and resources for the company.

Identifying the best investments for SMBs is essential for the vitality of so many organizations. Talent management software is one of the best ways to invest in the human asset of any company. Investment in technology, vs investment in the debilitating hiring process yields a far greater ROI. Talent management software is often the long term solution that business have been seeking for their employees.

Contact us today for a free estimate and demo of the talent management software that will take your small or medium-sized business to the next level.










How to Define Employee Skills for Your Organization

How many employees does it take to change a lightbulb? Don’t worry, there’s no bad punch line coming because the answer should be simple: one. The employee with the most qualified lightbulb changing skills should be the go-to. Management should know who their lightbulb changer is, and the lightbulb changer knows her or his position because, obviously, they got hired for this crucial job. In the case of lightbulb changing, our hypothetical organization clearly knows how to define employee skills.

In a perfect world, in a perfect company, employee skills perfectly match the duties and job responsibilities of each and every employee. But we all know this is not always the case and organizations do themselves and their employees a great disservice by not clearly defining employee skills. Not only could organizations maximize their investments on employees, but employees could better perform their jobs and more effectively take on projects.

There’s nothing new about any of these concepts or models. The skills match the job that needs to be done. Employees come into the organization with the skills necessary or are trained according to need. But our workplace, our industries and our technologies are becoming increasingly complex and convoluted. Distilling the employee skills necessary for the job or project and the worker(s) that matches perfectly all these talents is a science unto itself. Managers in particular are having greater difficulty in putting together teams for projects and identifying and defining employee skills.

To further understand the finer details and nuances of this problem, let’s look to a real-world example.

Meet Elaine, she’s an IT manager for a long-standing company that is in a new growth phase. She’s been with the company for three months and she was brought on because she has a proven track record of bringing businesses with out of date systems into the modern era.

Her first major project: migrating their entire old database, mostly spreadsheets, into a new Database Management System. Elaine can do this, but she’s so new, and the company’s IT department is so large, their skills so undefined, that she’s having a hard time choosing the right people for the job.

She’s gotten to know a few of the personalities. Jeff has a pug and wears a different color of socks each day of the week. Jasmine likes tacos and hates the smell of mint toothpaste. But their specific skills are less clear. Everyone in the whole department has learned their niche in the company and performs their jobs with diligence, but few can describe to Elaine what it is they really do, let alone define their particular skills.

Elaine, wisely, has realized the IT department’s shortcoming: how can she choose the right people for this project if she doesn’t know their abilities? And in the grand scheme of things, she needs to define these skills, the level of competency, the latest trainings, the gaps in education and certifications for each employee so that she can correctly place them in future projects. Elaine—the strong, fearless visionary that she is—realizes her company needs employee skills and competency management.

With a comprehensive and systematized skills management structure in place, Elaine can create her dream team for any given project. Not only that, but she has benefitted her employees and employer in a number of invaluable ways.

For the employees, defining and managing skills helps:

  • Identify current strengths and areas of expertise
  • Identify deficits and skill gaps
  • Target individual and group trainings needed to increase key competencies
  • Place people where they are most knowledgeable and comfortable
  • Recognize employee development opportunities (a key factor in increasing industry relevance and employee morale)


For the company, employee skills management facilitates:

  • Increased productivity by putting the best people in positions that speak to their strengths
  • Saved time and resources by streamlining the skills identification process for all projects
  • A way to restructure teams to be more productive and effective
  • Potential employee retention by identifying professional development trainings


Elaine’s company, if they listened to her prudent suggestion and found a system to clearly define and manage employee skills, will now have alleviated and expedited a great many issues managers and employees come across every day.

Your company, too, can benefit in key areas of performance, better achieving company objectives, identifying strengths and skills gaps, putting the right person in the right place and, most importantly, saving time and resources.

Don’t take shots in the dark when it comes to crucial projects and investments in your business. In cases of critical management decisions, your money and energy are best invested in a comprehensive employee skills management system. Contact us  for a free demo on Skills DB Pro.


How to create employee development plans that really work

How to create employee development plans that really work

I was chatting with a client last week, they are spending lots of money on training and not really sure about the actual effectiveness of their spend; this conversation ended up with us spending a lot of time dissecting how to create employee development plans that really works.

Employee Development Plans

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) suggests that organizations are investing more money into employee training than ever before. In their most recent State of the Industry Report they found that companies spend an average of $1,273 per employee on direct learning courses and employee development plans.

It’s easy to see why this rise in learning expenditure is the case though. According to research by PwC, the rise in learning and development costs has been spurred on by the expectations of millennials in the workplace. Apparently 35% of millennials claim that they’ll prefer an employer who offers training and employee development programs.

Deloitte agree with PwC, suggesting that if an organization doesn’t offer professional development opportunities they’ll have a hard time retaining their younger talent. Millenials are the most highly educated generation to date, and they’ve grown up accustomed to operating in a fast-moving world. Oh, and don’t forget that everyday they’re exposed to a workplace with lower job security than ever.

Learning is crucial, not just for employees, but the organizations who employee those people. So that begs the question; how can you create employee development plans that actually work?


Creating employee development plans that work well

We’ve decided to highlight five things your company can do to create effective employee development plans and ensure that they’re as effective at helping your employees learn as you need them to be.

1. Encourage senior employees to get involved (their knowledge is priceless)

Your junior employees and trainees can learn from nobody better than someone who’s been there and done their role in the past. Incentivising managers to lead employee development programs and share their knowledge is not only beneficial for the trainee but also for the manager as it’s a prime opportunity for them to further their leadership and management skills.

2. Enable junior employees to take ownership over their own plans

While it’s a good idea to put a structure in place for employee development plans, it can also be wise to allow younger employees the capacity to shape their own development plans based on their interests and career aspirations.

For example, if someone on your marketing team wants to learn more about coding, your initial reaction might be to suggest they focus on marketing-related courses. However, if the marketer was interested in learning code so that they could become a UX designer in the future that might be of interest to the organization in the long term as well.

3. Provide flexible working options

Asking employees to do intense professional development on top of their already busy schedule might not be the wisest of ideas, particularly if you require the employee to be situated on-site or have to do their training with other. By offering on-demand and mobile courses, companies can make development plans more accessible and enjoyable.

That point stands true for remote-based workers too, or even people who prefer to learn entirely outside of the office.  To learn more about setting up your employees remotely check out this blog: Solving The 6 Major Challenges Of Managing Remote Teams

4. Align different learning options with different learning styles

The way the that Baby Boomers learned their trade is quite different from the way that some Millennials approached it. Couple that with the fact that some people prefer to learn by reading while other choose to listen, or taken in more through visual learning, and you have a small conundrum!

Creating employee development plans which offer people the chance to choose which learning style they prefer is a great way to not only increase the effectiveness of the plan, but also make the entire process more enjoyable and rewarding for the participants.

5. Track the progress of your trainees

Use employee training tracking software to measure and monitor the employee development plans from start to end. Why? Well, you can manage and track how each employee is progressing through their plan, e.g., are they on schedule? Are they struggling on certain sections?

What’s more, you can use the software to link documents and information to particular employees, as well as generating reports on performance.

How to Apply This to Your Business

Any software you choose to manage employee development plans should be easy and quick for your employee to engage with.

I hope that by sharing our own experiences cracking the code for effective employee development plans that make the team and skills stronger, this post helps you have better training’s, become more productive and develop a better culture as a result.

Employee Training Tracking Software: 3 Steps to a Successful Implementation

Employee Training Tracking Software: 3 Steps to Ensure a Successful Implementation

Every month during client calls, we get dozens of questions about best practices for creating a successful training program. Employee Training Tracking Software implementations make up a large part of this number. In this article I will give you some tips for implementing a training tracking system with the best possible outcome.

In 2017, there was a reported 32.5 percent increase to $90.6 billion on training expenditure by US-based organizations. Employee Training Tracking Software implementations make up a large part of this number.  It’s a figure that is being driven higher every year by several factors, but two of the most important are:

Employee Training Tracking SoftwareA desire from millenials for more learning opportunities: 59 percent of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important when they’re applying for new jobs

Employee retention rates increase: Research shows that new employees who experience a well-structured onboarding program are 69 percent more likely to remain at that company for at least three years.

Considering millenials are going to comprise the bulk of the workforce by 2030, and that the cost of employee turnover is ever-increasing, it’s important that your business has a thorough employee training program in place.

Let’s takes a look at the steps involved in building out a successful training program and implementing tracking software to measure its performance.

Building an effective employee training program

Identify what training your employees need

Before you even begin design your training program you should figure out exactly what training your employees needs in order to have the most impact upon your business. Starting with a skills gap analysis will help you identify areas where the business may be currently lacking.

It’s also helpful to ask your employees what they would like to learn about. While you might have a high-level overview and understanding of your business, your employees can offer a fresh perspective and help you determine which skills or traits could be useful for current, and future, employees to have. Asking questions such as the following might be a great place to start:

What do you think you struggle with the most at work?

What way do you learn best?

How could we help your team improve its performance?

Are there any interests you have outside of work that you’d like to learn more about?

Once the needs and desired skills have been identified it’s time to begin planning your employee training program and set your program objectives. If you want to learn more about how to define Skill Gaps check out this blog post:

Setting objectives based on your business and employee needs

It’s crucial to define the goals and objectives of your training program before you actually take any strides. Training new employees without any real direction will inevitably result in unimpressive outcomes. You can use a series of criteria or parameters to formulate your questions, such as:

  • How will team performance improve after the completion of the program?
    • Example: “The customer success team will be able to respond to questions X% faster using (x) tool”
  • Why will employees be in a better position to hit their targets after the program?
    • Example: “The sales teams will be able to use (x) platform to target our ideal customers”
  • How will the training prepare employees for future leadership roles?
    • Example: “X employee will be able to implement constructive performance reviews for his/her team”
  • How will this program improve employee retention rates?
    • Example: “Our turnover rate next year will decrease by X% after we plan team-building activities that boost employee morale and retention


Now that you’ve determined what you need from your training and what your objectives are, it’s time to put in place the process of measuring your training’s performance.

Using employee training tracking software to measure the success of your program

In the same way that you assess your employees and their team performance, you should put in place the appropriate measures to track the performance of your employee training programs.  You can use two methods to help paint a picture of how successful your training program has been:

  1. Conduct employee interviews and use feedback to help you inform the process in the future. This might include questions such as:
  • What new (e.g. task, tool, skill) did you learn from the program?
  • How will (or did) you apply this newly-acquired knowledge on the job?
  • What did you like about the program and what should we improve (e.g. topic, methodology, instructor, material)?


  1. Use employee training tracking software to measure and monitor the training process from start to end. The benefits of using employee training tracking software include:
  • The ability to manage and track employee training events through the use of employee profiles and requirements
  • Set up links to documents and control which employees see certain records
  • Generate reports on training performance including updates on submissions and progress


Over time you’ll be able to use both of these methods in tandem to help you gauge the effectiveness of your training programs.

What Training Questions Do You Still Have?
What did I miss? What are you still wondering?
Let me know at


Developing Your Competency Framework – Linking Skills to Company Objectives

Competency Framework

Developing Your Competency Framework – Linking Skills to Company Objectives

Imagine a world without measurement scales. Where you cannot know your height, weight, the temperature, how much you have or need to spend, etc. – because well, there are no scales to measure any of that.

That would be a confusing world no doubt. Gladly, people have always found ways to graduate things into measurable quantities. Even as I type this on my computer, there’s a little column telling me how many words I’ve written. Not very necessary, but this just shows how important it is to measure things.

However, many businesses are yet to create a measurement scale for one of the most vital factors to business success – competency.


What Is A Competency Framework?

First, competency is the knowledge, skills, judgment, and personality traits that employees need to work effectively and to support business objectives. A ‘competency framework’ defines the required ‘competencies’ across all roles in the organization.

Thus, this framework provides an easy way to measure if your people are acting competently and supporting the business goals, and what adjustments need to be made if they are not.

To help you grasp this concept, below is a sample competency for Skill DB Pro.

As a company, one competency that supports our growth is “Ability to Guide Development with Customer Needs in Mind”

Here’s the definition for this competency as would be seen in our competency framework.

Ability to Guide Development with Customer Needs in Mind

This competency means that the features requested by current/potential customers are properly logged, and are considered when creating new features or updating old ones.


Effective Behavior
People who are effective…
Ineffective Behavior
People who are ineffective…


Collect data from customer interaction and feature suggestion pages, use surveys, analyze feature trends in other providers. Reach a decision of most necessary features based on this analysis.Start working on features on a whim, decide what they think customers would need without actually doing due research, interact with customers but take no note of their thoughts on necessary features.

Technical Support Person

Take note of customer feature requests during interaction, take note processes that are confusing or difficult for customers and that would be best simplified with a new feature, prioritize feature suggestion based on number of requests and sends to development.Do not log customer feature requests, work hard to create workarounds without suggesting a new feature to make things easier, send no suggestions to development.


If we identify a couple of other competencies and define them this way, what we get is SkillsDBPro’s competency framework.

As you can see above, a competency framework lays out the blueprint for ‘excellent’ performance within an organization. Generally, the competency framework of an organization consists of a number of competencies that can be applied to a broad number of roles within the organization. A good framework uses language that is clear enough for everyone to understand, explaining what an excellent job behavior really looks like, and what behavior would reveal a lack of competency.

When a common understanding is established, it becomes the benchmark against which the overall performance of an individual, project, team, or an entire organization is assessed and evaluated.


Benefits of Developing a Competency Framework for an Organization

An organization that neglects to define its expected standard of performance, will become an organization where the judgment of good, bad or excellent will be highly subjective. When a company or an organization does not have a common understanding of good, bad and excellent, its judgment cannot be fair and cannot lead to development priorities.

A properly defined competency framework on the other hand, helps your company:

  • Ensure that people work effectively and produce results.
  • Select and recruit employees that are a strong fit for the role and organization.
  • Focus employees on improving their performance and skills.
  • Identify gaps in staff and individual employee competencies, and on that basis provide valuable insights for creating highly targeted development initiatives.
  • Provide a comprehensive roadmap for employee development, career planning, employee succession, and other important development aspects.

Clearly, a well-defined competency framework creates a unity of direction for employees on daily tasks and projects, development, and succession.

The competency framework also becomes the guiding criterion for recruitment and selection. At the time of hiring new employees, a competency framework eliminates wastage of resources spent on recruiting, selecting and training the wrong people. A framework also ensures thorough assessment of an employee’s’ performance once it is implemented. These assessments give more consistent, credible and reliable results of what the employees in the organization are capable of doing.


How To Develop A Competency Framework For Your Organization?

There are 3 major factors that would help make the process of developing a framework successful:

Staff Consultation: When designing a framework, it would be a mistake for HR to do all the work. The reasonable and effective approach is to involve the people who actually work in various roles.

Change Management: Getting people to use a framework involves change, and as we all know, change is often resisted. It is thus wise to create a careful approach to manage change.

Effective Communication: All members of the organization should be fully aware of the framework being developed, the part they play, and their obligation when the framework is made available.


Building the Competency Framework

By now you should already have a goal in mind for your framework. If not, that is the first thing you should establish. The purpose of your framework would determine exactly how you go about it. For example, if you were creating a framework strictly for recruiting new staff, it would be different from that needed for the entire organization, including top management – one obvious reason being that expectations for new staff and top management are often different.

When you have your goal clearly mapped out, the following 4 steps would take you through the process of creating the framework.

1. Create a Lead Team

A team comprising of people from all parts of the organization should be involved in this project. This team helps ensure the frameworks involves every role and aspect in the business, and correctly represents the skills, goals and behaviors across the organization.

The lead team also helps to manage change in each part of the organization.

2. Gather Information

This is the most important step in creating the framework. The two best ways to gather information is by interviewing people in various roles, and using a questionnaire.

Interviewing People:

You can conduct a group interview, or speak with a sample of people from various teams. At this step, you can ask people questions about various tasks, situations, and roles in the organization. The questions could be – “What do your best managers do? What do your best staff do? How do they behave? What do your beneficiaries and other partners say about their contact with the best managers?” –

From these questions, you derive behavior statements, which are simple statements about best practices in a role. An example is “Our best developers take note of customer needs and use these to select features to be developed”

Using a Questionnaire:

If you want to have as much data as possible, it may be best to ask the opinion of all individuals about what is considered optimal behavior in a role or situation. In that case, you can create a questionnaire containing these questions and use it for an organization-wide survey.


3. Create the Framework

First, you want to study the data gotten from the previous step. Your framework would be built on the data gathered, and the first step to building from this data is structuring and grouping the information received into understandable clusters.

Separating statements into clusters

The responses gotten should be analyzed and separated across distinct clusters.

For example, take the following sample question and answers:

Q. What do you think makes a developer effective?

A1. An effective developer carefully weighs the needs of customers before deciding which new features are most important.

A2. An effective developer communicates his thoughts on necessary features with other members of the team and only spends time working on a feature when the team agrees on it.

If you notice, the two answers above can be grouped under two different work attribute clusters. The first can be grouped under Judgment and Decision Making Cluster, while the second under People Cluster because this has to do with communication.

This Civil Service Competency Framework for the UK clearly illustrates this clustering.

Creating Sub Clusters

When grouping items into clusters, you would likely notice that major clusters can have sub clusters. Take the example above, the second answer was grouped under People. However, this would be better categorized if it is grouped under People – Communicating.

Thus, you can have other sub clusters like People – Collaborating, etc. under which other statements can be more appropriately grouped. This is also illustrated in the Civil Service framework above.

After this step, you should have a clearly defined list of Clusters -> Sub clusters, and from here, your team can define the competencies in each cluster.

Here’s an example of cluster and sub-cluster groupings.


  • Communicating
  • Collaborating
  • Managing


  • Using Data
  • Having a Long-Term Outlook
  • Weighing Multiple Factors


  • Achieving Commercial Gain
  • Delivering Value for Money
  • Delivering on Time


From this grouping, you can go on to create your statements of what is considered competent behavior for each sub cluster, grouped according to the job roles in the organization (see our sample competency framework at the start of the article).

When writing competency statements, it is best to keep things really simple. Use language that is not ambiguous or hard to understand, so everyone can comprehend what competent behavior means in their job role.

Also, you want to ensure the competencies are linked to business objectives. Since you already did a survey, this should be the case at this point, but you can make sure of this by have a few management level staff across departments review and make suggestions on the framework.


4. Implement Your Framework in a Competency Management System

Having a framework on paper is great – it gives the organization a clear sense of measurement. However, many things on paper are often neglected in our tech advanced world.

Hence, many companies now opt to use a competency management system, in which you can define job role competencies based on your framework, and get immediate insight on how your people compare against the required competency for their role.

A typical competency report lists the skills and attributes of an employee, people in a job role, department, etc, and compares this against their expected level of competency to help you visually identify gaps and training needs.

If you already use Skills DB Pro, you can setup your competency management system by going to Admin > Skills Setup > Goals & Competencies.

If do not yet use Skills DB Pro to manage your people’s skills, training, and competencies, please sign up for a 45-day full access trial of our system (no credit card required).

After signing up, please contact us to let us know what feature you would like to see work for your company (possibly competency in this case). Our tech support team will guide and advise you through the entire setup process.

New Feature – Fully Automated Competency Based Training Framework

Competency based training framework

New Feature – Fully Automated Competency Based Training Framework

A while ago, we discontinued our training tracking system because, among a few other factors, it was not a competency based training framework. This was a hard decision for us and we almost went back on it a couple of times. In fact, just when we decided to discontinue this feature, a lot of people suddenly became interested in using it.

However, we stuck to our decision and rode the storm out. Here’s why.

Training and employee development are probably the most important aspects to the success of a business. Without proper training, your employees will be unable to keep up with modern trends and tools, and this would eventually mean substandard performance for the whole company.

Because employee training is this important, we analyzed our training tracking system and decided that, although it is similar to what is obtainable in other niche software, it doesn’t quite provide the power and features needed to support effective employee training.

But we weren’t throwing in the towel, certainly not.

After careful planning and consulting, we recently decided to go big on training with the design of an automated competency based training framework, built into our Learning Plan system. This system offers features you cannot find anywhere else.


How Does Our Competency Based Training Framework Support Effective Training?

For training to be effective, it has to be suitable to the needs of each employee. If you use a one size fits all approach to training your employees, you would end up with training that fits no one.

It’s kind of like an electronics company producing one size of boxes for all their products. Whether it’s a fridge or a small speaker, it is packed in the same large size box, because creating different size of boxes takes extra effort. At the end the result would be ridiculous.

In a sense, many training approaches follow this same pattern. Of course for training, the effort required to make customized training plans for each employee can be incredible. For a large organization, it might even seem impossible, but that’s where our Competency Based Training Framework comes in. Our system is uniquely designed to help you make employee training suitable to the needs of each particular employee. Here’s how.


Automatic Training Recommendations for Employees

Our Competency Based Training Framework pulls information from an employee’s skills profile, job role skills requirements, and certifications to determine the exact skills each particular employee is lacking, or needs to improve on to support the business objectives.

When these skills are identified, the system then automatically recommends the corresponding training that would enable the employee acquire or improve on the identified skills. The system also recommends trainings that would help employees maintain their certifications.

Recommended Trainings - Competency based training frameworkUsing job role as an example, let’s assume an employee works as a Business Analyst, and by the definition of this role in the system, occupants should be experts in Data Analysis. If this person doesn’t have the required skill level, the system searches through available courses to find one that offers the Data Analysis skill and at expert skill level, and recommends it to the employee.

Thus, the competency based training framework takes care of all employee training without an admin lifting a finger.

Of course, the system also allows admins and managers to manually add trainings to employee profiles as seen fit.

One important thing to note is that this system would be most effective when you have the right trainings planned in the company. Otherwise, training needs would be identified but there would be no training in the system to recommend.

The good news for you is, you can use our Training Planning dashboard to ensure you plan the right training.

Training needs dashboard - Competency based training framework

This dashboards helps you identify the skills that are important to your business but lacking across the company – vital information to help you make the best training plans for your employees.


Tracking Learning Plans (Individual Development Plans)

When an employee decides to take a training from the automatically recommended plans (or is assigned a training by a manager), they get a set of tools (Individual Development Plan) to track their progress on each training. These tools help the employee visualize their current courses, the progress they have made, the time spent on each course, and other important aspects.

IDP - Competency based training framework

Employees can also add unique learning plan activities in their IDP to track other training opportunities such as personal development, soft skills gained from working with a particular professional, etc.


Importing and Creating your Trainings

Getting your courses into the Competency Based Training Framework is very easy. If you already have them in a Learning Management System, you can import them into our system and cut out extra work. You also have the option of creating individual trainings in the system.

Creating trainings - Competency based training framework

For each training, you can add skills that will be gained after the training is complete, as well as the skill level for each skill.


Learning Plan Reporting

Admins and managers can view a report of training activities in the system. This report shows the courses in the system, who is taking what course, how far along they are, what skills they will gain at completion, and much more.

Report - Competency based training framework

You can drill down on this report to display particular courses, or only people in a department, job title, location, etc.

With reports, you will be able to understand your current training plans, see how these can impact company projections, and plan for the future of each department and individual employee.


How Can You Use This Information?

Every company has a training budget. This is money set aside with the plan that training programs would make employees more effective in their role, and help bring in more money to the business.

As a training manager or HR Executive/Personnel, the weight is on your shoulders to make employee training have this impact

Thus, it is best to ensure your training plans are based on deep insights into the needs of your company, and of individual employees.

Our Competency Based Training Framework, built into our Learning Planning System provides this insight and also automates the process. If you already use Skills DB Pro, please contact us if you need help setting up this feature. It is already active on all SaaS accounts.

If you are new here, please sign up for a free 45-day trial of all our features.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Technical Support

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Creating A Skills Management System

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Creating A Skills Management System

Skills Management System

About a year ago, Skills DB Pro was at a very important point in its history. At that time, we noticed we were losing clients because they wanted a feature we did not want to implement. The feature was “permitting employees to define skills as they use their skills management system”.

At that point, we knew the mess this could lead to if not done properly, so whenever this feature came up, Steve and I held our heads high like soldiers in a Chinese military parade, and said no!

After some time though, I noticed that Steve’s position on this began to shift. He was probably thinking what I was thinking – “If this is what they want, then it’s our obligation to give it to them”.

So like a good pharmacy, we produced the feature to ease the pain of our clients, wrote the prescription, and clearly outlined the potential side effects.

One week passed, then one month, then one year, and up till this day, we haven’t gotten a single complaint from our clients about this feature leading to an issue.

On the contrary, thanks to this feature (and others), you can literally start using your skills management system in a few hours.

And that is the first thing you didn’t know about creating a Skills Management System.

1. You don’t need weeks to implement your skills management system

Implementing HR systems can be an unusually complex process. Many people come to us with the mindset that getting their skills management system up and running is going to be very hard, so even before they start, they’re defeated.

Quite contrarily, modern skills management systems are designed to be “Easy to use”. At Skills DB Pro, we live by those words, so we spent a lot of time, research, and effort to get you the features needed to make this as easy as possible.

There are two basic steps in getting a skills management system ready for your people to use:

– Define Personnel
– Define Skills

In Skills DB Pro, those steps are actually “import personnel” and “import skills”.

To import your personnel, you can simply export their data into a spreadsheet (possibly from your payroll management system), and then import them into Skills DB Pro. We provide clear instructions and are always ready to guide you to make this a smooth process.

To import company skills, we provide you with a skills template in excel format. You can simply share this with department managers and have them populate it with the skills in their department. After that, you import the template into our system and all your skills information are ready to use.

When setting up skills, you may also decide instead to use the feature we spoke about at the outset. Using this feature, you will need to do Zero skills setup work. Simply import your people and allow them create the skill they want to rate themselves on. If one employee creates a skill, others would be able to see and rate themselves on that skill. So in a short time, you would have a complete skills list.

You may contact us if you want to cut out the hassle and get your system up and running before the clock strikes “Midweek.”

2. Implementing skills management can save your company much money (according to company reports.)

A Skills management system saves company money
Skills Management Saves Company Funds

If you were looking for a way to sell top management on your need to implement a skills management system, please put down your phone, drop those papers, tell Mr. John to keep silent for a moment, and listen – “Skills Management Can Save Your Company Much Money”.

But How?

For one thing, you can hardly fully utilize your people if you have no way of tracking their skills. So the first source of financial gain comes from better utilization of personnel, and this is far more important than it may seem at first.

Case in point:

“Speaking about a client he worked with, Andy Andrews of said ‘they were spending too much money on contractors and external resources. They had in-house skills but they did not know where they were in the organization. It was easier for them even if more expensive to go out and hire external resources.’”

“[This Company] was able to reduce this spending by implementing skills management. With the system in place, they knew the skills that were available in the company, and the people who had those skills. They could thus utilize their people and reduce external contracts.”

To learn other financial and organizational benefits of skills management, please read “The Impact of Skills Management on Business Performance.

3. Training and Succession planning without skills management is like shooting in the dark.

A company I work with decided to expand a while back. Our CEO sought executives from various fields, even hiring a past executive of one of the biggest fast-food franchises.

In all, four people were hired. Less than a year later, not one of the executives remained. They all washed out because the company culture was new to them, and they could hardly cope.

After this happened, our CEO finally realized what she should have done all along. She started promoting from within, and our diligent operations manager quickly became a director.

Ideally, most top positions should be filled via promotion. But when it comes to the issue of succession planning, many companies still do not know what they are doing.

The first step in succession planning is identifying talent. A skills management system helps ensure you properly identify talents and groom them right from the beginning.

Since succession takes a lot of training and mentorship, it would be counterproductive to spend all that on a less than ideal candidate.

With a skills management system in place, you’d be able to identify employees who have core skills which are useful for the job, and soft skills which are needed for leadership, right from early on in an employee’s career. The system will also help management strengthen and reassess these skills over time.

Without this data, if top management only relies on recommendations from people, they’re shooting in the dark.

4. Implementing a skills management system is surprisingly pocket friendly.

A decent breakfast for 2 = $25
Skills DB Pro Small Business Plan = $20/Month

For a system that can save many company $$ and increase talent utilization and company productivity, you might expect it would cost more right? Well it doesn’t.

How Can You Use This Information?

If you were planning to implement a skills management system for your company, you might have had some misconceptions about the difficulty, cost, and benefits of getting this done (many people do).

I hope this post has cleared up some of those.

The points made in the post are based on what is obtainable with our software, so if you would like to quicken your implementation process, please give us a call (720 457-3312), or book a live demo.

We would be happy to get you up and running if our system matches your use cases. If not, you can rest assured we would point you in the right direction.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

The Impact of Skills Management on Business Performance

Skills Knowledge, Abilities

The Impact of Skills Management on Business Performance

In our modern business climate, companies are made or broken by the amount and kind of information they use in guiding business decisions, and each day, new ways to gather data and new applications for available data are explored.

Since there is a general consensus that a company’s most important asset is its people, reliable data about people’s skills and how they relate to business goals should have tremendous effects on every company.

Many companies have thus implemented skills management systems, some for more than a decade now. And so, ample time has passed to assess the impact skills management has had (and can have) on business performance.

I recently published a whitepaper that analyzed this topic. The paper provides an in depth view into the experiences of companies that have implemented this system, and how it has improved businesses in 4 major ways:

1. Bridging the Skills Gap.
2. Effective Employee Development and Succession Planning.
3. Getting the Right People into the Right Positions.
4. Financial Benefits.

Download the whitepaper here:

White paper cover

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

8 Tips For Awesome Skills Management

Best Rating With Checkboxes

8 Tips For Awesome Skills Management

There was a time when a skills management system was simply a nice tool to have around; that time has passed.

As early as 2003, HR professionals at IBM realized that the rapidly changing business landscape meant that companies had to inventorize the skills of their workforce if they wanted to stay ahead of the competition and drive productivity.

Since then, many companies have caught on, and skills inventories have become quite common and – as many businesses state – quite essential to success.

But this kind of management is still relatively new, and you may find it hard to get information about skills management. In fact, if you Google the phrase “Skills Management”, you’d most likely get results about “Management Skills.”

And so beyond helping new clients understand how to use our system, we often also have to help them understand how to implement it in their company (to the best of our knowledge of course), as well as some best practices they should observe for better results.

For our blog this week, I’d be highlighting these practices that can help you successfully implement and use your skills management system.

Skills Management Best Practices

1. Ensure It Is Supported By Senior Management
Before you implement a skills management system, you should secure the commitment of top management. They have to be fully convinced of the business and financial benefits the system will yield.

These benefits usually come from better utilization of employee skills, better staffing for projects, more effective succession planning, and most importantly, a clear awareness of the talents needed for the success of the business, and a defined method for developing such talents.

Using these and other valid points, you have to get top management to buy into the idea of a skills inventory.

2. Allow Employees To Define The Skills Needed For Their Job Roles
If HR decides to create the skills inventory without consulting employees, you may end up with a system that is understood by HR, but foreign to employees. It is only natural that those who do the job everyday will have better knowledge about the skills needed for their day to day activities. And if you ignore their opinions when creating the system, you will have a hard time convincing them to use it.

“HR [needs] to get out of the business of defining the work. After all, those doing the work and those overseeing the work [are] the legitimate experts.” – SHRM Study Of IBM

Of course, HR has to set the guidelines and structures for collecting skills, but an advisory team made up of employees from the different parts of the company should suggest what goes into the skills list.

3. Avoid Complexity
When implementing the system, start with only those skills that are critical to the success of the business and allow your skills list to grow over time. There’s no need to try to capture every possible skill that may be related to the business all at once.

You can also avoid complexity by using a step by step approach when setting up your skills management system. These systems usually come packed with many features that may require time and effort to setup, and if you try to implement them all at once, you may get lost in the huge amount of work involved. It is best to start from one feature and expand from there.

For example, we usually tell new clients who plan to use the competency management part of our system to start by setting up the skills management part and making it good. After this is done, they can go on to setup competency management.

4. Present The System As An Employee Development Initiative
On a recent online conference, a client asked us how they can present the system to their employees without putting people on edge. This was a good question because, employees are usually skeptical when any kind of change takes place. As simple as remove the coffee maker from an office and you’d raise some eyebrows.

So don’t wait for employees to conceive flawed notions about the system and then try to convince them otherwise. It is better to communicate to them that the system will be used for developing employee skills and careers so as to put everyone at ease, and make them ready to use the system.

5. Organize Proper Training Sessions
Everyone needs to understand how the system functions and how they fit into it. It will expectedly take some time for your people to become familiar with the system, but you can help them get started with proper training.

A good model to follow is to train managers first and get them settled into the system, after which you should organize one or more training sessions for employees.

6. Make Employees Use The System
No, I’m not saying “force it on them.” Rather, you can make the system central to their day to day activities in such a way that they will want to use it.

For example, if you decide to select employees for projects, training, and promotions based on the skills they have entered in the system (which is indeed one of the best ways to select people), employees will want to use the system as those who do not will essentially be left behind.

7. Use It To Analyze Training Needs
The very nature of skills inventories means that they can provide the best insights into the training needs of your organization.

A skills inventory can help you identify skills that are critical to your organizational goals, but are currently in short supply, and you can, and should use this data to ensure all your training efforts are positioned to help your people acquire these business critical skills.

8. Learn To Use The Various Reporting Functions
Skills management systems usually offer quite a few reporting functions. Each one serves a different purpose and provides a different view of the strengths and weaknesses of your workforce.

But it is all too easy to find one or two reporting functions that serve your purpose, and stick to using them without exploring others.

If this sounds like you, you may be missing out on other powerful reports that can help you wrap your head around your workforce skills.

Basic Considerations For Best Practices

There are a ton of other factors that influence the decisions you make regarding your skills management initiative, and it will be impossible to cover them all.

However, before you take any action on your skills management system, ensure it is one that will –

1. Make the system easy to set up and manage,
2. Make employees use and value the system, and
3. Earn you the continued support of top management.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support