What!?! But We Taught ‘Em!!! All the Competencies!!!

And We Have Great Level 1 & 2 Results!

A: What do you mean we have a problem!?!

The Learners love it by the numbers we get in our end of bite-sized module and full blown course surveys, right at the end of each and then again 90 days later. No one ever changes their minds! They see value!


They all believe that it helped them tremendously.

B: But the Level 3 and 4 Numbers makes all want to run and hide.

Damn little transfers, and when we try to find the returns, it’s thin gruel.

A: Not according to what the Learners tell us. They believe it helps them and impacts their job performance.

B: Self reported?

A: Yes. And…

We Covered All of The Competencies!

Just like HR asked us to.

We have Core Competencies and advanced Technical Competencies and Interpersonal Competencies.

We have put virtually everyone through these as we on-boarded them.

And the incumbents were all brought up to speed several years ago.

We are pretty current. We invest a lot! Every year.


Every job has a Learning Path put together by the managers and their top people. They all think it’s great.

B: But there’s the darn Level 3 and 4 numbers.

The subjective feedback is great.

The objective feedback, not so much.


The Executives Report That Their Middle Managers See No Value – No Return

A: Yikes.


It’s bad enough that there are little or no tangible results for all of the time, money and effort – but to have the executives know about it.

That’s not good.


B: And then there are all of the costs of all of the lost opportunities – while everyone was distracted in all of that Learning and not doing something else, something of value.

And then maybe we probably invest even more, say, in testing.

At best, our approach based on Competencies, can simply create a common language, and some general skills. I’ll give it that.

But that’s not enough. That’s the shortcut approach. To the masses.

A: It serves the masses the quickest – and isn’t speed to market a key metric?

: Not for these results. Or rather, the lack thereof.

 A: OK. What’s Missing?

B: A focus on the Performance Requirements.

A: But our Competencies of all types were all carefully developed. Customized. We had teams working on it for over a year.

B: But they were missing one key factor. What’s…

Missing: Are The Competencies In Context

A: But all of our Competencies have been thoroughly vetted by our people, management and the executives!

They passed the sniff tests of everyone.

They are reasonable. Believable.

No one questions that these are what makes up a competent contributor, manager or executive.

What’s missing? They are all focused on the Competencies!

B: Some might call it Authenticity.

Beginning with the end in mind – say with the applications exercises.

Do they reflect authentic performance?

Or some abstract performance?

The truth seems to be that none of the practice exercises, while great, non-threatening fun, bear absolutely no resemblance to the application of the content back on the Learners’ jobs.

And then we give them great, immediate, behavior shaping feedback on that all that abstract performance.

More investments.

Yes it is all aligned to the Competencies. The Level 1 and 2 data tell us that.

But not to the Performance Requirements. The Level 3 and 4 data tell us that.


Non-Generalizable Performance Is THE Context

All of the practice exercises need to be authentic. They need to look and feel just like the expected job performance will back on the job. Don’t teach them someone else’s job. Teach them theirs. Use a blended approach. Blended media and modes. One size does not fit all. Most of the time.

A: Do you know what that would cost, to conduct the analysis, on each job or job family?

B: That’s why you target the most critical jobs in the enterprise. Not everybody.

And you call it what it is.

And hopefully it is…

Performance-Based – Process-Based – Either Works For Me

You can call it either. But the important things are the Measured Results. Back on the job. Level 4. The results, the ROI in dollar terms or strategic terms, or hopefully both. 


A: How are we gonna pull this off?

We can’t throw away all of our previous investment!

B: You don’t have to. You can simply conduct the targeted analysis of the performance requirements, and the enabling awarenesses, knowledge, skills, and the terminal objectives: the performance competencies necessary for their specific job assignment. That’s all.

Then you can design a performance-based Performance Development Path.

As rigorous as required. And as flexible as feasible.

But with on-the-job performance as the final measure of the worth of the investments in Learning and Performance Support.

And do that by…

Bookending Your Generic Competencies – Where There Is ROI

On the front end put advanced organizers and show how it fits their specific applications. And on the back end we should have practice with feedback on those specific applications. That’ll enable transfer.

And… we should only go after significant ROI with our investments. That’ll address the Returns, the ROI.

If we do this for everyone, it’ll be just as it is now – overkill in the extreme.


Not every job in our enterprise is worthy of this treatment.

Many are. But not all.

A: That is controversial. This is controversial.

B: Yes.

And that’s because too many don’t have on their business hat, their fiduciary responsibility hat, when they are making investment decisions. And that’s not good stewardship. That’s poor stewardship.

A: Maybe we need to improve everyone’s Business Financial Acumen Competency.

I need to relook at our LearningWare and see if it needs some tuning. And let everyone know this is the new game.

B:  We need to schedule some more time.

And soon.

The sooner the better actually.

What are you doing next?

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2 comments on “What!?! But We Taught ‘Em!!! All the Competencies!!!

  1. Troublemaker. How can we POSSIBLY be responsible for the performance of other people’s employees? We jammed lots of terms into their heads, we had them play a bunch of team-building games (the swung from ropes, they flashed cards, they built blanket forts), we even assigned them colors and initials. Then we asked them for detailed feedback on the temperature of the room, the quality of the lunch, and the dedication of the trainer and his terms of addressing every gender and sexual orientation.

    You think we have time to worry about actual PERFORMANCE?


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