Organizational culture is a hot topic in human capital management circles. The evidence is clear that a purpose-driven, people-centered culture drives performance.
In successful competency transformation efforts, one thing stands out – top management drives the change. Senior leaders invest themselves in the effort. They realize that changing a culture takes a long time and that they must model the behavior they want.
With that support, a competency review can present a prime opportunity to start a cultural shift and to diffuse it throughout the entire organization. If you are planning a cultural shift, a competency review should be a focal point in the program. The two go hand in hand.
The best place to start is with the succession plan. Not only will it help you get executive buy-in, but it will make your execs early adopters of the initiative.
Getting Executive Buy-in
It might be easier than you think to bring home the need to review the plan or create one if it does not exist. It may feel like an intervention. We can argue that the necessity for succession planning comprises two immutable principles:
- An unexpected event can create a critical vacancy at any time.
- The best way to avoid vacancy risk is to have a ready successor for every critical position.
It follows that one of the primary responsibilities of leaders in your organization is to groom their successors. If they do not, they place your business in jeopardy – and that includes the CEO.
If you meet resistance, some might advise you to find the exit. We urge you to keep at it. You may need to be the drip of water that erodes a rock, but gentle persistence can win the day. Moreover, if you do not try, are you not passing up the challenge you sought when you wanted to be a human resources professional?
Start a Conversation
Once you have cracked the rock, you open conversations about what your leaders do, how they do it, and why they do it. Since your competency model for a role will comprise the attitudes and behaviors of effective performers, they may begin to question their approach. That introspection creates the opportunity for discussion about culture and behavior modeling.
The powerful forces that perpetuate an ailing culture can seem impossible to overcome. Leadership abilities grow out of one’s life experiences, beginning and a very early age. Over time, the positive and negative traits that define their unique style become firmly cemented in the way they operate. Changing the effects of a lifetime of experience can be a challenge. But it can be done.
Whether you build your model, hire a consultant, or acquire one of the excellent models developed by companies like DDI or Korn-Ferry will depend on your capabilities and resources. You may want to use all three methods.
We recommend against merely buying a solution and attempting to get your organization to adopt it. We have nothing against the top-notch models in the market. They are well-designed and validated by decades of research.
However, it may be much better to start with conversations about principles and behaviors in your organization. These discussions will create the momentum for a change, and you can use that energy to create prevailing winds for new thinking. We do not think you will have any trouble finding a model that you can adapt to your culture after you build the momentum.
Whether your objective is to update your competency models or to transform your culture, this is a chance to have a lasting impact on your organization. We hope you take up the challenge.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.