User Generated Competency Maps

Thomas Otter, Gartner Analyst by day cyclist by night, posted on his Gartner blog last week about the new XING Competency Card and how it raises questions around the need for “complex, expensive, poorly maintained HR competency management applications behind the firewall”.

The competency card allow you to add skills to your XING profile (think a LinkedIn profile), back them up with commentary detailing your experience and then have your contacts validate this experience.

I decided to give the process a bit of test, as such I signed up to XING and created my own profile including a Competence Card (which you can find under the Applications tab). I have to agree with Thomas, while a basic implementation the look and feel are nice and very easy to use. The simplicity of implementation is part of the attraction, making the tool one of the easiest competency tools I have used.

The idea of peer validation is great and something that is really needed for inside the firewall applications, with a bit extra. The ability to have validations from both internal and external contacts, as not competency can be validated internally, especially in a world of partnerships, outsourcing and the like.

The peer validation process reminded me of survey feature found in PeopleStreme, which allows anyone to create a quick survey to collect feedback on their performance. A feature especially liked by the “validation seeking Generation Y” (yes vast generalisation).

I note in the comments of Thomas’s post Jon Ingham raises the point of still seeing a need for internal competency maps, agree. However a tool that supported both internal and external validation would allow for these maps and still incorporate the user generated aspects of XING’s Competency Card.

So who will be the first vendor with such a feature?

PageUp People: Integrated Talent Management

What is Integrated Talent Management (ITM)?

Well that was the question posed at this morning’s breakfast briefing session run by PageUp People to launch their new white paper, “ITM – The Evolution”. Their answer:
Workforce
Credit: Lumaxart

ITM leverages the same data, process, workflow management, security model, user portals, and reporting and analytics tools across all applications.

My answer would be very similar.

The white paper quotes heavily from people such as Thomas Otter, Jim Holincheck, CedarCrestone and Leighanne Levensaler with PageUp People offering their own conclusions on the research which in turn lays out a product roadmap for the PageUp People platform.

Within the white paper reference is made to three stages of ITM evolution:

  • Stage 1 – Today, multiple vendors, disconnected systems, a lack of analytics, and limited executive buy-in.
  • Stage 2 – Reduced number of vendors as each widen the breadth and depth of their offerings, tighter integration, initial workforce analytics, and growing executive buy-in.
  • Stage 3 – The holy grail a fully integrated talent management platform with predictive analytics and high levels of executive buy-in.

What stood out to me was the strong emphasis being placed on workforce analytics, the topic for the rest of this post, as a key indicator of a stage 3 ITM environment.

For well over a decade workforce analytics have been discussed and predicted to come of age many times, and again we have a major talent management vendor still predicting that workforce analytics is in the future! So when will the future become today?

Over the years workforce analytics has been a keen interest of mine, in 2004 I co-presented on the topic and AHRI’s HR Week. During the presentation I referenced work conducted by the Butler Group in 1995 on the issues around data warehousing little things such as; Availability, Understanding, Accurate, Consistent and Predictability, and Privacy. I firmly believe many of these issues need to be resolved before any form of workforce analytics can be confidently undertaken by an organisation.

My co-presenter 5 years ago John Macy referenced work from the Meta Group in 2000 on the 5 categories of workforce information management, the top level being predictive modelling! John went on to discuss trends from the Meta Group, which had vendors incorporate contextual analysis into their products by 2005 and in 2006/7 Leading organisations will develop & fine tune predictive models. I guess the Meta Group was wrong!

Now back to talent management, last year Dr John Sullivan discussed why Talent Management Analytics is still failing, I added my two cents worth as well. Let’s look at Dr John’s list again:

  1. HR Skill deficiency
  2. Lack of business knowledge
  3. Expensive tools limiting deployment
  4. Lack of quality data
  5. Complicated nature of talent management
A system will not solve all the items on this list, other than item 3. This point was emphasised in the PageUp People white paper when they looked at the People and Process implications. A broader organisational change activity is required to succeed in a strategic context with workforce analytics.

Are you adapting your services to stay relevant?

An old saying by Heraclitus a Greek philosopher that “Nothing endures but change”. If this was true in 500 BC, then today if you are not preparing for change you are dead in the water. Period!

Today I was reading a Gartner research report by Thomas Otter, aka Vendorprisey, The Effects of Social Software on Your Employer Brand (Hat Tip: Amit Avasthi) which got me thinking about change.

Then I came across a post by Don Tapscott on Grown Up Digital about how libraries in the US are having to adapt to encourage Generation Y to visit. Resulting by the way in a 25% increase in attendance!

What would you do if you weren't afraid
So what do these two things have in common?

Customers are changing and so you must evolve to survive. Even more so in tough economic times. 

Now how are you changing to stay relevant? Depending on your view what do employers, candidates, employees or the board really want from you in 2009? How can you deliver it?

What should you be upgrading? Your employer branding? Your careers web site? Your referral program? Your Resume? Your Compensation programs? Your Performance Review programs? Your strategic plan?

Think about getting a 25% improvement by changing to suit your audience.

If you want to learn more about how to deal with change read Who Moved My Cheese?.

Photo credit: nguyenanhquan from Flickr.

Year End != Performance Management

Today I was catching up on some of my feeds and noticed many of the major HR technology related blogs I follow were discussing performance management, for example Jason, Meg, Justin and, it even gets a mention on Thomas’s blog. So I felt I would get in on the game.

So let’s start at the beginning, what is performance management?

an approach to help the individuals within the organisation focus on what needs to be done to help the organisation meet its overall goals

(Paraphrased from the Performance Management unit in the AHRI Professional Diploma)

There are lots of models and method for doing performance management but as Jason says in his post:

Performance management should be about making, supporting and visualizing decisions for all levels of management that drive corporate performance.  It should cater to every talent stakeholder and answer the question that are important to them such as…

  • Managers – How do I reward and penalize individuals and teams based on performance?
  • Directors – How do I analyze and compare the performance of my team against other departments and divisions within my company?
  • VPs – How can I model my group against other high-performing regions, geographies, roles and skills to drive my company’s performance?

It is not about giving a rank to an individual based on the last X number of months work. Taking this further Justin brings up four good summary point:

1.  We believe in the concept and vision of daily performance management

2.  We believe in a future-facing performance management environment.  

3.  We believe in open lines of communication between the manager and the employee

4.  We believe in customised and relevant content in the performance evaluation

I have to say I agree with what everyone has said, and that your technology enabling performance management needs to be more that just filling in an apprisal form online!

Even more so if we assume that a vast majority of workers are now knowledge workers. Knowledge works is by it’s very nature ambiguous, complex and tends to have long feedback cycles (you don’t press a button to see a result), where employees tend to work autonomously but require collaboration with others both internally and externally to get the job done. Add to this that the outcomes tend to be more important than the process followed. (I know there is a whole core competency discussion here as well.)

So really the performance management process needs to be about supporting or facilitating the performance ahead of time not looking back. This of course needs to be part of the broader succession, development, learning, and workforce planning process. And it is not just an end of year thing!

Once the right process is being used we can then add the technology!