3 ways to improve your staff development planning process



Research shows that when a person’s status is threatened (like during a performance review) activity can diminish in certain regions of the brain. As the traditional annual review becomes out-dated, using tailored assessment frameworks for leadership development have gained traction. This week, we discuss how to improve your staff development planning process and the benefits to your organization.


Leadership competencies


The Society for Human Resource Management defines leadership competencies by ‘leadership skills and behaviors that contribute to superior performance’ and supports the idea that using a competency-based approach to leadership enables organizations to better recognize and develop their next generation of leaders. Commonly used leadership competencies used for assessment purposes can consist of:



  • Innovation

  • Customer centricity

  • Digital adoption



So how is this approach different from the annual performance review?


Historically, when human capital was abundant, world views and values were different and technology had not yet taken over, the focus was on which staff to let go and which to keep and reward. Now, business models are changing, the older generation is leaving the workforce and you have millennials and generation Z with varying priorities. According to the Future Workplace 'Multiple Generations @ Work' survey, 91% of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, changing jobs frequently and not prioritizing extrinsic motivations (like bonuses) as their older counterparts once did. 


This generation has an underlying desire to shape where they work; make a contribution and to see their role have a direct benefit to society. As an effective manager, giving feedback, development opportunities and mentorship can help you capitalize on these intrinsic motivations and show your people they are more than just a number.


The major benefit here is that you will have a competitive advantage when attracting and retaining talent. By choosing to develop your leaders and assessing them on critical competencies, you are making one of the most important investments you can make - in your people. By investing in their career development, they will in turn invest in you.



Functional and technical capabilities 


With this in mind, identifying and understanding the development needs of a wider audience in workforce planning projects, can also be done with the use of assessing functional and technical capabilities. When building this type of tailored framework, the number of capabilities is often larger than what you would use to assess leadership competencies, as it involves a wider range of roles within an organization. Common ways to measure functional and technical capabilities is with a levelled framework design and use of a 180-degree assessment (participant and their manager).


If you choose to use a levelled framework – you need to make sure it’s designed 
to have enough levels to make gap analysis achievable. This will ensure there is meaningful and sufficient ‘stretch’ between these levels, which will then assist with the development planning process later on.


Common functional and technical capabilities to assess for can include:



  • Project management capabilities

  • HR capabilities

  • Finance capabilities

  • Sales capabilities



The main benefit of using a framework that assesses functional and technical capabilities is the ability to define skill gaps and development opportunities. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get this type of data using a performance review. Keep in mind, establishing benchmarks is important here because where possible, it creates an excellent opportunity to drive development using stretch goals within the organization.


“Develop strong leaders and values rise, conversely, you may see the impact that poor leadership capability has on your company values”



Core values


The last assessment type we are going to discuss is the measurement of core values. These are usually what your organization was founded upon and the guiding principles that everyone in the business should demonstrate proficiency in. Common core values can consist of:



  • Respect

  • Integrity

  • Trust



The assessment of core values is a relatively new concept and can be done in a number of ways. One approach is that you can create 
a framework to assess values and include this in an overall assessment of leadership competencies. For example, certain aspects of a leadership framework may be highly relatable to values. If certain indicators can be designed to map to values, you can measure values as well as leadership competencies.


I hope this article has given you some insight into how you can improve your staff development planning process and reap the benefits of doing so.


If you are the Head of Talent and your organization is struggling to maximize the use of your capability assessment framework, then I invite you to check out our complimentary eBook titled – ‘Designing and Implementing a Successful Competency Assessment Program’.


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