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Hamilton-Chase Consulting

Build A Successful Firm Using A Competency Model Larry Gard, Ph.D.

Why Make Guesses About Key Personnel? Select, Develop, And Promote Top Talent Using The Same Advanced Process Employed By Major Corporations Worldwide.

Hamilton-Chase Consulting

Build a Successful Firm Using a Competency Model Larry Gard, Ph.D.

Wish you had a signpost to help you make good decisions about who to hire and who to promote? In every business the choices you make about who you hire, how you develop them, and who moves up in your organization are among the most important decisions you’ll ever face. This e-book presents a brief guide to using Competency Models, an essential tool for making these decisions measurably more accurate. Inside you’ll learn how to add depth and precision to hiring, promotion, and employee development. 2

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Think about the people you’ve hired or promoted for management and leadership positions. Chances are, it was a tough call. Few candidates are perfectly suited to a position. You’re forced to make complex, high-impact decisions about individuals and their futures. Who gets placed in what job? Where should you invest training dollars? How can you make sure that key employees will behave in ways that are in sync with your company’s strategic objectives? Will your decisions about people translate into improved organizational performance? Our view at Hamilton-Chase Consulting is that having a competency model is the best way to make these vital decisions measurably more reliable and valid.


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Profitability is about performance, and performance is about people . . . At the end of the day no matter how outstanding your produce or service, and no matter how skillfully you market your business, your profits are only as good as your people. If you don’t have a well-conceived Competency Model that specifies exactly what high performance looks like, how can your firm select, develop, and promote the most talented people? More importantly, if you haven’t clearly identified what separates outstanding performers from ordinary ones, how can your firm grow and differentiate itself in the marketplace?

Your profits are only as good as your people. Do you know how to differentiate outstanding performers from ordinary ones? 4

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What is a Competency Model? A Competency Model defines skills, knowledge, personal characteristics and abilities needed to perform in a role and help achieve your company’s goals. From this perspective, many would argue that developing a sound competency model is a missioncritical endeavor for virtually any business that wants to protect and extend its competitive advantage.

Companies can design and use multiple competency models if they have jobs or roles that are unique 5

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What is a Competency? A competency develops over time as a blend of innate qualities and learned experiences. It arises from a combination of who we are and what we’ve been exposed to in life. The model below provides a useful way for thinking about competencies:

model developed by Bigby-Havis/Assess Systems

In this model, effective job performance depends on many elements working together. Over time, innate factors (such as natural ability and personality characteristics) combine with learned factors (like skills) to form competencies. People with a particular set of competencies will be able to do the right things (behaviors) to produce the desired results (effective outcomes). 6

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Examples of Competencies: This chart shows some examples from a much broader library of competencies. Note that they fall into three categories: how an individual thinks, works, and relates to others.




Decisive Judgment

Delivering Results

Teamwork & Collaboration

In-Depth Problem Solving & Analysis

Planning & Organization

Influencing & Persuading

In order to be useful in a model, competencies need to be clearly defined in behavioral terms. For example, people who display Decisive Judgment . . . “make sound decisions with conviction and in a timely manner. considered


After they have and


consequences, they can decide upon a course of action and assume responsibility for their decisions.� 7

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Measuring Learned and Innate Factors How can you predict whether a job candidate will be able to demonstrate a particular competency? As mentioned above (see diagram on p. 6) competencies develop from innate and learned factors. If you can measure those factors, then you’ll know whether the candidate has what it takes to display the competencies you’re looking for. Measuring the learned factors that contribute to a competency is relatively easy and straightforward. There are many tools and methods at your disposal, including specific skill assessments, structured interviews, and 360-degree feedback. Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated to reliably measure the innate factors that contribute to a competency. Tests that measure personality differ greatly in terms of how sophisticated and useful they are. You won’t get very far using a simple test that classifies people into “types” (e.g. introvert vs. extrovert). After all, a personality characteristic can be an asset in relation to one competency, and a liability in relation to a different competency. Consider the personality trait of Self-reliance. Self-reliance can be a good thing when it comes to a competency like delivering results, but it can hamper teamwork and collaboration. 8

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You can’t tell if a candidate will be a good fit with your competency model unless you measure personality the right way . . . You need an approach that goes beyond specifying how much of a given personality trait you have; you also have to take into account that for some competencies you want a lot of a trait, for some you want a little, and for some you don’t want any. The link between the personality traits and competencies is critical because without it, you’ll be measuring innate characteristics but you won’t be able to draw meaningful conclusions about real-life behavior. For example, you might score at the 40th percentile on a measure of assertiveness, but it’s meaningless unless we know how that particular score impacts your ability to display different competencies. At Hamilton-Chase Consulting, we use and recommend test instruments from ASSESS Systems because they do an excellent job of evaluating how personality impacts on-the-job competencies. Call Dr. Gard at 312-787-9620 or send us an email (drlgard@hamiltonchase if you would like to receive a complimentary sample test report. 9

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Summary of the major benefits your company can gain by using a Competency Model:

A competency model establishes a definition of high performance by identifying the critical success factors (i.e. behaviors, abilities, and attitudes) that differentiate high performers from ordinary ones. A competency model also helps a company specify the competencies (as professionals and more simply, as people) that set them apart from the competition. The benefit of establishing and validating a competency model is that a company no longer has to make an educated guess about selecting, evaluating, developing, and promoting key people. It’s a roadmap for answering questions such as: 

Who should be hired?

How should they be developed?

Who is best suited to move up in the organization?

By what criteria do we measure their performance? 10

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You wouldn’t make decisions about your company’s future by throwing darts, so why make educated guesses about key personnel? A well-crafted competency model will help you hit your target.

To learn more about competency models and how your firm can select and develop top talent, please call Dr. Larry Gard at (312) 787-9620 or send an email to Your inquiry is most welcome. © 2010 Hamilton-Chase Consulting


Build a Successful Firm Using a Competency Model  

Your profits are only as good as your people. Do you know how to differentiate outstanding performers from ordinary ones? This short book i...

Build a Successful Firm Using a Competency Model  

Your profits are only as good as your people. Do you know how to differentiate outstanding performers from ordinary ones? This short book i...