Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to Define IT Talent Competency

 IT Talent Management is a critical arena worthy of being perceived via different lenses.

Measuring knowledge worker’s performance is perhaps more tougher than measuring IT performance, because there’re many variables and intangible factors to leverage, traditional competency model more focuses on quantified result, with ignorance of  qualified or innovative effort; or only measure short-term productivity, without enough consideration of long term skill set matching, and most of the performance management systems today rewards mediocrity rather than encourage excellence.  So how to define IT talent competency,  how to move into people 2.0 –to unify talent’s heart, mind, and hands, and build up long term talent solution?

1.    Well-Define Talent Competency 

COMPETENCY is a synthetic word, it’s not just about categorizing it into “hard” skill & “soft” skill bucket, instead of silo thinking, look for hybrid skills, ambivert personality or ambidextrous capabilities, and there are many perspectives on competency:

Hybrid Talent: The organizations these days look for such hybrid talent, who has the right balance of  learning style, character, and energy within the team; and who has well set of capabilities needed with digital speed:  
A: Problem-Solving Capability: The talent who has well-blended hard & soft skills and master on solving complex business problems, or know how to simplify and optimize solutions.

B: Change Capability: The talents who can learn, de-learn, and relearn, who is change agent for better self and better organization. Especially for IT talent, some aspire to become specialized  generalists, while others might be more comfortable to be IT specialists, either way, one shouldn't stop growing and strengthen skills.
C: Innovation Capability: The talent who can think & communicate creatively and find alternative solutions to old problems or a new way to delight customers.

Leadership Potential: Influential Competency, behavior competency, strategic competency, communication competence, adaptability competency., etc. are much more important in senior level; in fact, at every level, how to unleash leadership potential is the right approach to retooling business culture.

Competitive necessity and competitive uniqueness: IT staff’s collective competitive necessity will keep the business light on, while, their collective uniqueness can help grow and even transform the organization. Thus, advocate the culture for talent to compete for uniqueness.

Competitive Necessity: Assess talent with a set of skills which are necessary to do daily tasks bring both quantified and qualified result; this is traditional competency model based on.

-Competitive Uniqueness: The management need pay more attention to those shining spots: Who can bring unique POVs, who can find better way to solve problems, who takes extra miles to delight customers; who has the courage to debate with bosses with good intention, who is just unconventionally different, who is positive influencers for business culture? And who are those transformers to push the business up to higher maturity?

2. Update Performance Management System 

The unfortunate thing is that reviews and assessments are thoroughly entrenched in corporate culture and it will be difficult to make substantive changes in the short term for many traditional organizations. However, some of the more forward-looking and innovative companies take a different approach to select employees for leadership positions, and the updated models begin to start to bear fruit.
Performance 2.0: Performance management systems and processes are also gradually moving away from a static, unidirectional, and time-bound avatar to a more dynamic, continuous, and interactive state. Improved transparency, goal tracking, real-time feedback, and enterprise-wide acknowledgment/  recognition of achievements are some of the key drivers, which result in the adoption of digital and social performance management systems.

People 2.0: And the role of talent in a People 2.0 environment can be primarily seen in learning and in Performance Management. This is extremely important at the engineering-driven domain. As it requires a higher level of leadership and orchestration abilities from their managers, with insight to recruit the right mindset, not a just too narrow band of criteria. Unfortunately, in many instances, recruiters are looking for someone to plug a gap, complete a project or fill a specific short-term role and opt for the pigeon-hole employees since they work more in the silo. But for long-term business growth, organizations should recruit the correct mindset, ability to learn and grow. 

3.    Talent Managers as Change Agents

The role of talent managers & HR is also more strategic than ever, because more innovative companies treat talent as human capital, not human resources, and people are still the most invaluable asset in organizations, especially today, the speed of change is accelerated, from digitalization to globalization, what matters now is innovation and it takes an innovative approach to hire creative talent.

The innovator is usually a risk taker: In most cases, HR will suggest taking the conventional candidates with a narrow band of criteria, while they may not have enough insight on whether they count for X years of experience or a year of experience X times. Especially due to the changing nature of technology, the knowledge life cycle has been shortened.  The hiring manager can (to whatever extent) make the choice, but choosing the candidate that was not HR's choice/suggestion makes the choice a risk for the manager - in case the candidate should fail/leave. The question here is ... how many hiring managers are able and willing to take the risk. 

Talent Dilemma: Hire Character or Skill? When organizations look to identify leaders (especially innovative leaders), hunt for qualitative characteristics such as passion, drive, empathy, vision, perseverance in the face of opposition, And hiring someone who has leadership skills with a positive attitude and is willing to learn or take on new challenges, can be far more beneficial for any company, than hiring a "know-it-all" who you cannot communicate with. The payoff can be dramatic both for the individual as well as the organization.
Getting the Right Balance: Both attitude and aptitude count. Well, define the updated competency model, assess the talent's overall capability to solve problems, strike the right balance of learning capability, character, skills, communication, and energy within the teams. Getting the balance right is a must as the consequences can be difficult and expensive. Building high-performance teams is at the heart of what talent manager should do and choose the right balance of team members is, as we all know, critical.
Therefore, in order to adapt to digital speed, talent management is a critical arena worthy of  being perceived via different lens, as people tend to value and see the world through their own lens and skills themselves possess or the life track they take; or even on the surface, they just recruit somebody to look or think like themselves; however, business world is colorful and diversified just like our natural world, it takes strong leadership and cohesive culture to adapt to the changes, and it would depend on those managing it to have a high level of competency in the new model. Leaders & talent managers need to become the change agent themselves first!


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