The Focus Should Be On Performance – Not On Competencies – For Critical Process Performers

My take is: Competencies are Enablers ONLY – they are not the end-all.

Competencies are used because they are easier to acquire/describe for HR – to then use for job descriptions, recruiting/selection, development and assessments. Easier than what?

They are easier to acquire/describe than having to conduct analysis of all of the job titles involved in all of the Enterprise processes. An analysis of the performance outputs/tasks and the human enablers for performing those tasks.

But are descriptions and use of Competencies really better than descriptions and use of Process Performance and descriptions and use of all of the Enabling Knowledge/Skills, the various Attributes of Physical, Psychological and Intellectual, plus the descriptions and use of Personal Values required to support those Process Performances?

I think not.

They are just enablers. You don’t pay for enablers. You pay for performance. Or at least you should – and you would… if you only could!

Clarifying Question:
If I demonstrated in some “non-high-fidelity exercise/test/assessment” – my command of all of your competencies – but did not know/follow all of your current formal and informal processes – how competent can I be?

Don Tosti has published on Competencies – here is one of my Blog Posting on Don and what he had to say about Competencies.

I’ve been involved in more than 23 Management/Leadership Curriculum Architecture Design projects. 23 I led – see a prior Blog Posting – and a few others where I participated in as a junior consultant in my early years before leading my own consulting engagements with our firms clients/my clients. Of my own/led 74 CAD projects (1982-1994), 23 were focused on management – either excluding their technical requirements (their unique job’s outputs/tasks) – or including them (their unique job outputs/tasks).

After my business partners (Ray Svenson and Karen Kennedy) and I had conducted about a dozen of those projects we sat together and derived an earlier version of the Management Areas of Performance Model from all of the analysis data we had on Managerial performance and their K/S enablers.

The model used in my book: Management Areas of Performance – is my version of that original derivative. We put all of the “chunks” of performance in our L-C-S framework which is based on a combination of earlier “frameworks” of both Geary Rummler and Ray Svenson. It is intended to be a starter model – one that you may adapt. Adapt after using the model for one or several purposes – as adapting it from the git-go means that the content as I’ve organized it will be harder to use in the way it was intended.

After using it then adapt it after everyone involved has much more familiarity with it at multiple levels and for multiple “utilities” (applications) such as:

  • defining the management processes
  • defining the management enabling competencies, attributes and values
  • defining the management enabling environmental assets required
  • defining the management career paths and deltas between each in terms of human enablers
  • defining the management recruiting and selection criteria
  • defining the management development content and practices
  • defining the management appraisal systems’ content
  • defining the management compensation evaluation criteria
  • etc.

You can read in the Table of Contents above (click on the graphic for a larger version that you can download for use later) what the specific AoPs (Areas of Performance) are for Managers – all of whom need to exhibit the appropriate leadership traits/actions for the performance context that they and their followers find themselves in at that time.

Which might vary over time. Which means for almost everyone it is a unique situation/context. Requiring a unique view to guide the response. A “robust” view to guide future evolutions/changes for both small and large changes (within reason). Will the model hold up? Is it scalable/flexible?

I think the one in M-AoPs is – the model in the book that is. You, of course, can be the judge.

The book, models, etc. are intended to assist one in defining their own unique set of performance requirements and enabler requirements for THEIR PERFORMANCE CONTEXT. Which makes it more difficult for HR to use and to “control the content of the descriptions” for their due diligence responsibilities. Because there are typically – but not always – a lot of laws, etc. that need to be conformed to/with.

So that COMPETENCY approach is maybe fine for just about everybody – except for those critical jobs in those critical processes. Then you might need something more. Something that doesn’t skirt around deep complexity. The real world that is most likely very complex where simple views are inadequate.

And perhaps the M-AoPs book, models, etc. can help you with THOSE applications. When you need more than a competency view of the requirements for HR purposes.

The Management Leadership Areas of Performance
Stakeholder Relationship Management & System Governance
Strategic Planning & Management
Operations Planning & Management
Results Measurement Planning & Management
Process Improvement Planning & Management
Communications Planning & Management

Stakeholder Relationship Management/Governance is about the data gathering regarding all stakeholders’ needs, and gathering feedback on how well the enterprise, or individual manager’s systems/processes are doing in meeting those needs. Once all of these stakeholder needs are better understood, governance goals can be established, appropriate to the balancing of any stakeholder requirement conflicts that may exist.

Strategic Planning & Management is about the setting of longer-term strategic goals, and plans to achieve those governance goals.

Operations Planning & Management addresses the development and management of an operational (annual) plan to achieve the assigned year’s annual goals/objectives consistent with the longer-term strategic goals and plans.

Results Measurement Planning & Management focuses on the establishment of a meaningful scorecard set of measures and the measurement mechanisms for the gathering and reporting out of data/information to all stakeholders related to the desired enterprise results.

Process Improvement Planning & Management is about the systematic improvement of internal processes for ROI benefit, and to achieve annual and long-term (strategic) goals and plans.

Communications Planning & Management addresses the planning and management of communications, both proactive and reactive.

The Management Core Areas of Performance
Work Planning
Work Assigning
Work Monitoring
Work Troubleshooting

Planning Work is about deciding what gets done and by whom and when.

Assigning Work addresses the communications of the work assignment.

Monitoring Work focuses on the follow up monitoring of work process and/or work product to insure that everything is okay. If not, see the next AoP.

Troubleshooting Work addresses the following up on any work product or process discrepancies to resolve them. This is about getting to the “root cause” and not spinning enterprise wheels on addressing symptoms that won’t resolve anything.

The Management Support Areas of Performance
Process Design/Re-design
Human Asset Planning & Management
Environmental Asset Planning & Management
Special Assignments

Process Design/re-design is about making changes to the existing processes in terms of their steps, inputs, individual contributors roles/responsibilities, etc. Approaches including Lean and Six Sigma, among others, are used to address process improvement and streamlining via design or redesign of the process.

Human Assets Management is about the acquisition, development, appraisal and compensation/rewarding of the human performers. These are typically HR systems that require alignment to the enterprise’s process needs.

Environmental Assets Management is about the acquisition, development, and maintenance of the non-human assets necessary to the process.

Special Assignments is about the “other duties as assigned” responsibilities of management.

Get your free copy of the book PDF at

Here is what all of the early reviewers wrote about Management Areas of Performance:

Mark Graham Brown
Large government and corporate organizations continue to spend money on canned or custom-developed leadership programs that fail to produce effective managers. This book presents a proven methodology for determining the specific management competencies needed for success in your own organization. By using this approach, based on studies of your most effective managers, you will build the foundation of a program that will allow you to select and train a large cadre of effective managers and leaders.

John Coné
One of the great strengths of the book is that it is NOT about competencies.
You make an outstanding point that there is more to the job than just
possessing (or even exhibiting) competencies.

I really liked the book. Now, I have to be honest with you – it surprised
me that I did. I have never been a fan of “workbook” type books that
require me to do a lot of introspection and homework. Maybe that’s because
I’m lazy, or maybe because they require me to accept the models in the book
as I go along rather than deciding after I have read it all how well they
will apply to my world. Whatever the case, when I saw how your book was
organized, I figured I wouldn’t like the format and then I’d have to figure
out how to tell you that.

But it didn’t happen that way.

I think it is because of the way the book is organized, and perhaps also because you keep things relatively simple. You don’t ask me to buy into a complicated and unusual model; but one that is pretty straightforward and logical. I also think that using the technique of directing people to the chapters that apply to them the most (as you do in Chapters 4 and 18, for example) prevents us from having to slog through work that we are not sure goes to the heart of our concerns. That is a brilliant move, and I wish more authors used the approach.

Thanks for the chapter summaries. They keep the reader on track and tell us what you as the author think are the key points of each chapter. The intros also do a great job of keeping us oriented.

The book reads easily and is very clear and concise.

Judy Hale
I do like the way you have grouped the areas of performance. You have developed a useful tool and process to help identify, define, and evaluate managerial competencies.

Margo Murray
How I spent my holiday weekend ….Actually several enjoyable hours of it were spent reading your new book! Congratulations on completing this comprehensive treatment of an essential subject. Here are some general impressions:
► It will be very useful as a handbook and desk reference for managers, especially newer ones
► I like the flexibility to access and use the sections most relevant to a current role or responsibility
► Some chapters will serve as excellent checklists, for example the troubleshooting ones
I found myself many times thinking, “I wish I had written this book when my management experiences were being tested and improved.”

Joe Sener
I like the model. It will help organizations on several levels:
► Clarity of what should be the responsibility of each level of management
in the organization.
► The recognition that different individuals will be better at some of
these AoP’s than at others — and that is not only OK but that diversity
adds strength to the organization.
► A detailed description of the skills required of each role at the
individual contributor line as well as an assay of those skills at the
organizational level.
► A recognition of the time required at the Management Support level which
is seldom, if ever budgeted for by the organization but is just assumed
that we will find the time for it. I believe that upwards of 40% of my
time is spent just managing Human Assets.

Darlene Van Tiem
Tremendous performance management tool! Competence is key to inspiring, challenging, and coaching employees. Every leader should require Management Areas of Performance as part of a performance assessment empowering their managers to develop competencies, thus improving competitiveness and organizational effectiveness.

Comprehensive, well organized, and motivational.

Actually, I think that it is a terrific succession planning, career development, and employee development piece. You have presented, in detail fashion, the full set of competencies. You have not glossed over issues and made it a simple book.

Frank Wydra
I like where you are going with Management Areas of Performance and I believe it will prove a useful workbook for many who are trying to move beyond training and development and into the bright, glowing work of human performance technology. You can quote me on that, if you so choose.

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