Competency Management Missteps

Competency management missteps 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.

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

Bill Gates

Competency Management Missteps

Competency Management 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.


Competency Management 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.


  ManagementMisstep 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.