Steven Forth is a Co-Founder of TeamFit. See his Skill Profile.

 

Reporting on the ‘Values and Competency Models’ survey

A few months ago, one of our best customers asked us if and how organizational values should be part of a competency model (see Are values part of your competency model?). Despite being deeply steeped in competency models, we have the world’s most capable platform for building such models, and seeing ourselves as a values-driven company, we publish our values and use them in making decisions, we had never asked ourselves this question.

We explored the question in a blog post, and then, as is our habit, put together a short survey about this. You can still take the survey here.

One of our values is to create value for all of the people we interact with. This includes people who invest their time in taking our surveys. We try to design the surveys so that the process of answering the questions will lead to reflection (we see reflection as a critical skill, one that it is worth fostering) and be of value in its own right. We also provide a summary of the survey results to the people who take the survey.

The N here is very small, only 41, and in such surveys people interested in the topic (in this case ‘values’) are more likely to respond skewing the data, but here is what we found out.

The basic question is “Should values be part of a competency model?” The two most popular answers, just over 80% together, were ‘Yes, they are central to performance’ and ‘Maybe, it depends on how the competency model is used.’ A few people felt that adding values to competency models added unnecessary complexity.

The ‘other’ responses were, as is often the case, quite interesting. One pointed out that ‘values’ could be taken as a noun or a verb (this person was likely from a design background) and the other noted that

“If the competencies are related to specific behaviors and how those behaviors are exhibited, then yes. Demonstration of values can be very subjective, so it’s important to be very clear on expectations and make evaluation objective.”

We asked people about the values of their own organization. The most common answers were

Integrity

Creativity

Customer (Service, Understanding, Value)

Learning

Respect

My favourite response here, offered by three respondents, was ‘Kindness.’ I think I would like to work with a company where kindness is a value.

The next question asked if values can be assessed.

The overwhelming response was that values are best assessed by providing examples and in the context of behavior. Again, the ‘Other’ responses have some interesting nuggets.

If the competencies are related to specific behaviors and how those behaviors are exhibited, then yes. Demonstration of values can be very subjective, so it’s important to be very clear on expectations and make evaluation objective.”

This is easier said than done. At Ibbaka-TeamFit we put a lot of emphasis on learning and sharing learning. There are clearly competencies related to learning, it is even one of the subjective filters we use in choosing critical skills to explore. We have not yet connected all these dots or worked out how to link them to our value “Learn quickly – and share what we are learning so that we can all make better decisions.”

Our final question was about the systems used to express values.

Not surprisingly, the most common answer was a Performance Management System. These systems are commonly used in performance reviews and increasingly to gauge employee engagement. Having examined a number such systems for a dozen or so companies, I would say that values show up in one form or another in more than 2/3s of the companies.

The most interesting response in Other was that values are incorporated in a decision support system. This is something we would like to do at Ibbaka-TeamFit. Of course first we will need to have a decision support system. We have found that the most meaningful way to make values come alive is to use them to make difficult decisions. When we are having trouble with a decision, like whether or not to combine Ibbaka and TeamFit, one thing we do is to go back to our values and discuss the decision in the context of each value.

A pending design decision is if and how we will provide explicit support for values in our competency modeling environment. Ideas on how to do this? Please reach out to us at info@teamfit.co