benchmarking

Measure and Manage with a Knowledge Management System

32144407_sIndependent, self-sufficient people, by nature, struggle while adapting to others, especially to those who may impact their rhythm or productivity. For example, a search specialist who is having a hard time identifying the appropriate channels for a content writer will be on edge and visibly stressed, especially if there is a publication deadline. While the search specialist is right in making sure the right data is collected, s/he may be trying too hard to identify more than the content writer really needs. Open communication – which is normal behavior for the content writer, but not the search specialist – will need to be managed, or departmental chemistry will suffer.

Expectations need to be clearly communicated from several perspectives so everyone is on the same wavelength:

  1. What is expected of the individual employee

  2. How these expectations impact other members of the department

  3. How the tasks fit into the overall project and project timelines.

If this is properly communicated and executed, the marketing manager can use stressors to actually improve productivity.

How to develop a “competency needs list” for your department

As a manager, you will want to strategically address the logical (short- and mid-term) growth of the competencies you will need to meet internal and external client demands. Employee competency trends develop in the same way you see Web and data trends developing, you will want to build a wish list for the long-term competencies you feel will eventually be needed.

Obviously, new clients will have new ideas and expectations, but in most cases you know generally what demands will be if you stay in the present mission/vision focus.

The key to ensuring proper creation of this list is to approach it from a consultative paradigm of thought. Start by identifying what new jobs might need to be created in the department – particularly skills that cannot (or should not) be outsourced. Identify why the job exists, so there are foundational reasons to support the hard skills and competencies necessary for task completion.

Then identify SMEs, either inside or outside your organization, to make sure you have pinpointed the key accountabilities. Refer to Tests in Print, or consult a Human Capital Strategist to ensure you have a path to identifying the skills, attributes and traits that are necessary to achieve your goals. Make your list from what you have discovered.

Only then you are ready to move on to the next step.

Organize your competency list into a simple Knowledge Management System (KMS)

Your first step is to create a matrix with the competencies you presently have in the department. Underneath each skill identify which of your employees possess that skill, and the level of that skill which you would assign them. Your second matrix would be the skills that you determine will be needed in the short-, medium- and long-term.

You will want to prioritize them based on your present and future project estimations. Once you have a clear understanding of what competencies you have, and at what skill level, you can begin the process of sharing and building a KMS that works for you.

Please do not think this process needs to be a complicated system, replete with extensive software and management systems. It does not have to be more than an organized SMART objective. You can make it more sophisticated down the road, if you find the need.

Your second step is to make sure there is agreement among department members, and those that must use and interact with those competencies. Identify where competencies are similar, in which one individual can strengthen another, to increase the overall departmental skill level.

During this time you may discover overlaps of duties that can be eliminated, and the time savings can be directed at diversifying particular skills or enhancing weak skill sets. In other words, you are now beginning to manage, share and enhance your knowledge base for greater levels of productivity. You begin to address what 76% of the CMOs/marketing managers say is missing from their departments around the world.

Your third step will be to create, schedule and manage knowledge acquisition through all available resources and methods. This is a process you cannot push to the side and say, “I’ll get to it next week.” It begins the day a new employee walks in the door.

Let’s take a moment or two to summarize how you take a new employee through the process:

  1. Identify the competencies your employee brings to the table. Use all of the behavioral/personality data you have gathered along with skills test results and any other competency based screening to develop a thorough list as your foundation.

  2. Identify and classify similar hard skills that are consistent with their present hard and soft skill sets. Compare and contrast which factors are compatible with competencies you need to fulfill your present and future (internal/external) client requests. Do not hesitate to ask for any forecasts that might be available from those clients.

  3. Pinpoint the mindsets and behaviors which are consistent with the upcoming projects and the new employee.

  4. Identify any additional training or exposure the employee may have with those competencies, if any. If not, identify free or low-cost websites or software programs that can introduce the employee to the related skill sets.

  5. Assign a growth and development process (SMART) to those with mindsets/behaviors which will include mentoring or monitoring by other employees or yourself. Schedule opportunities to identify progress on the project to ensure the appropriate progress is continuous and consistent.

There's More to Business Team Development

21139567_s If  deliberate and exhaustive research doesn’t reap the right results, how do you make sure you have the right training and developmental process for your company?  How do you identify and select what is right for your people and your company?

That is the crucial question:  “What is right for your corporate culture and unique personality?”

Eighty percent of all performance issues are people related. Many studies have documented that an investment in human capital will often return up to 10 times the dividends that investments in technology and equipment will produce. And besides, 92% of America’s companies already have more technology than they can use.

There are three key elements you must evaluate before entering a new process implementation, benchmarking, re-engineering, or even a basic training process. Successful outcomes will require a thorough understanding of:

  • The corporate culture and what impact it has on the present, as well as, new employees.
  • The types of behaviors, attitudes and motivations necessary to successfully perform each job description
  • The natural behavior, attitudes and motivations of present and future employees.

Next you select a process that the employees can relate to and make their own. Employees will only become owners of a culture, process and position when they have the ability to see where and how they “fit.”  An employee must have a personal reference point. Personal reference points (PRP) provide the insight necessary to solve over 75 percent of the performance issues in any organization, regardless of the industry.

Let me give you an example. One of these most popular books of the 1990s is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Steven Covey.  What is the fourth habit? Can you remember the name of the habit? How well are you performing that habit compared to highly effective people?

If you are like most of the people I meet, you can’t remember the habit. But even more important is no one I have ever met could tell me how well he or she performs that habit compared to highly effective people.

Now this is certainly not Mr. Covey’s fault. His material is insightful and brilliant however, all he can do is give us the good information. He can’t make you do what you need to do to “get it.” Sadly, only a small percentage of the people, who purchase his book, or other educational materials, have actually implemented the processes and benefited from the intuitive design.

Why is this valuable information lost?  If holding a personal reference point holds the key to improving performance, a lack of personal reference, or identification of appropriate need for each crucial point, locks out superior and effective performance. Unless PRPs are established and understood with each position, most people don’t know how well or poorly they are performing each competence. There will be little meaning to the individual involved and little desire for ownership. The plan remains Mr. Covey’s, not yours or mine.

Companies plot their reference points and draw their focus from mission statements and goals. Job descriptions, skill sets as well as programs and processes can provide reference points for getting things done, but rarely do they accurately or predictably describe the competencies of the individual needed to perform the task. Present and potential employees, however, bring their own competencies and unique personalities to the job and the company.

Until recently, there seemingly has not been a predictable method to measure the correlation between the company, the job and the employee. Most will agree that there is always a risk involved each time an individual is hired or placed in a new position. How risky?  Recent surveys indicate that interviewing and reading resumes is only .14% effective, where 0.0 means flipping a coin is just as accurate.

Establishing PRPs for each of the three appropriate areas, however, reduces the risk of hiring mistakes, turnover, unacceptable performance, and a low ROI for training and development. As a matter of fact if the PRP’s are established on unbiased competencies and then measured empirically through validated assessment processes, hiring mistakes and turnover will virtually STOP. Performance levels will improve immediately and training can be tailored to the employee’s natural learning style.

Most companies do not understand that matching people to the right position is a relatively inexpensive process when compared to the high costs of turnover, lost productivity and mis-hiring. Many organizations say the payback of hiring right is almost 7:1.

The Solution

There is certainly no lack of process excellence in today’s market. On a regular basis there is more and more research and information available to help corporate America implement a continuous improvement process. Companies unfortunately are not taking advantage of some of the most simple and inexpensive approaches to solving performance issues. In fact, in August 2012 CBS News reported the American worker now works longer hours than any other industrialized nation, which has caused us to reconsider the “productivity gains” information released by our government.