Developing Competencies for Your HR Department

Developing a competency model for human resources is essential, but it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, according to human resources expert Patsy Svare.

When people in business talk about competencies, they usually are referring to the skills, knowledge, and behavior that are needed to be successful, Svare says.

Skills can involve a lot of different elements, depending on the situation. They can include, for example, the ability to do computer programming, operate machinery, or conduct a medical procedure.

Knowledge as it pertains to human resources is fairly straightforward – it means knowledge about the specialty areas in human resources, such as benefits, training, compensation, and employee relations.

Behavior applies to the behavior that is needed to be successful in a certain job. This might relate to an employee’s decisiveness, focus on customers, attention to detail, or creativity

Competencies can apply to more than just an individual. You can have competencies for a job function, such as human resources or marketing, or for an entire company.

In human resources, when you look at competencies, you want to look at the skills, knowledge and behavior that are needed to make the department successful, according to Svare. You not only need to look at the competencies that will be necessary to deal with the needs you currently have, but also the needs that you see arising in the future, Svare says. As an example, in the near future, you see the need to reduce costs, even though that may not be a need now, but when developing competencies, you will want to look possibly for an attribute such as creativity, which might be helpful in looking for ways to cut costs.

Sometimes, human resource departments will look at updating their competency model when they recognize that there is a need for change. If this is the case, make sure you get input from your best workers and other key stakeholders in the operation for their ideas of what competencies are needed, according to Svare. Once you have developed the competencies, you need to be sure you communicate to the department exactly why these particular competencies where chosen, why they are important to the department as you move forward, and how they will be used to select and develop workers in human resources, Svare says.

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