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ESP 2009 Presentation - Ohio State University Extension Competency Study
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ESP 2009 Presentation - Ohio State University Extension Competency Study


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Slides and notes from a seminar at the Epsilon Sigma Phi National Meeting - September, 2009 in Fargo, North Dakota.

Slides and notes from a seminar at the Epsilon Sigma Phi National Meeting - September, 2009 in Fargo, North Dakota.

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  • Good morning!Thank you for joining me. First, let me share my plan for our time together (then introductions, pending group size)competencies/competency modeling recent research in Ohiobackground on CBHRM & why Ohio decided to move that directiondialogueExciting topic for me:Research for my dissertationMore importantly, my research was designed to contribute to OSU Extension’s strategic plan and involved many Extension employees.Findingswill be applied to HR practices in Extension – at time when our talent is more important than ever!Introductions
  • For many reasons that we’ll discuss later, CBHRM is one recommended approach in 21st century human resource management. In order to use this approach, an organization needs a competency model as a foundation. Thus, a research-based model was needed for OSU Extension. In reviewing the literature, I found:Competency modeling, identification and assessment are not new to Extension orgs – a number of state Extension organizations and program areas have adopted a set of competencies for some or all of their employees. The Extension Committee on Organization and Policy has recommended use of competencies throughout the Extension system.However…No model for OSU ExtensionLack of research on core competenciesLack of current research (it has been about 10 years since two well-documented models in Extension organizations were developed)>Texas and North Carolina are examplesAdditional validation needed (for example, using exemplary performers)Research objectives:ID and describe competencies required for Extension professionals to be successful now and in the future.Construct a competency model that includes core comp, describes what they look like in practice, and reflects organizational preferences.Ensure the model created is a valid one.
  • Before I give an overview of my research, it is important to talk a little about what competencies are (as defined for my research).A competency is a collection of related knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal characteristics working in concert to produce outstanding performance.A number of authors use some type of a pyramid or an iceberg model to illustrate the concept of competency. This illustrates that a competency can be made of a number of things. Knowledge – e.g., an organizations structure, policies, proceduresSome are harder to identify and develop than others (below the surface) Values – e.g., respecting all peopleA competency is reflected in behaviors that are above the surface – observable.The behavior results in outcomes we see in job performance.My research focused on core competencies, a broad set of competencies relevant across job groups.
  • To help as we begin to talk about my research methods, the illustration in the slide you see on your screen shows factors that affect the competencies an organization needs and the competencies actually available. The illustration shows:Building blocks for an individual’s competencies – on the right – abilities, training, experience, and other characteristics.AndFactors that affect competencies required by an organization – on the left – strategy, vision, work context, etc.Essentially, the purpose of my research was to describe the competencies required by OSU Extension, the circle to the left.I relied heavily on data from exemplary performers – they would be represented by the area of overlap between competencies required and competencies available (shown in green).Data from these exemplary performers, and other research participants, were used to describe the competencies required.To account for the blocks on the left, it was important to focus on competencies required now and in the future. Part of the research objectives included a future-focus. The research design encouraged a focus on the future by:Asking participants to be forward thinkingIncluding the leadership of the orgGenerating a list of trends and their implications for Extension work as part of the research process.
  • I used mixed methods in my research -- with an emphasis on constructing a competency model using qualitative approaches like interviews and focus groups.Sampling – several types and combinations of purposeful sampling were used … called mixed purposeful sampling. (criterion, maximum variation, and sampling politically important cases). This sampling assured that data were collected from key informants from throughout the organization.Their participation was an important part of the research design. More than 400 Extension employees were involved in some way, from nominating exemplary performers to participating in focus groups. These employees represented the range of jobs in our organization.Relied on a criterion group of exemplary performers and key internal stakeholders for idea generation, model refinement and validation.The research design included multiple cycles of data gathering, analysis, integration, and peer debriefing in four phases. Major sources of data included the literature, administrative cabinet, a competency project team, focus groups with employees, and a survey.
  • There were findings at each step in the research which informed the next step. For example…nomination data & focus group data…The key findings from my research are represented by two sets of information constructed through the research process. First is a set of trends and implications. Second is the OSU Extension competency model.The trends and implications represent current thinking on the key trends for OSU Extension and the implications those trends have on Extension work. Trends & Implications document – names and describes 5 trends and the implications they may have on Extension work.The five key trends identified include:Changing and complex conditionsIncreased competition and limited resourcesChanging and complex organizational structuresChanging demographicsTechnology and life in the e-world
  • 7 implications, lessons for Extension work were associated with those trends. For example:Be customer driven with a focus on quality and responsiveness – talks about expectations rising for timely responses and delivery of effective, high quality programs or services.Effectively manage work and life issues – talks about how technology and organizational changes are leading to more challenges with balancing work and personal lives.The next slide shows the 14 core competencies and how they are arranged conceptually in the model.
  • The OSU Extension Competency model includes a set of core competencies, relevant across job groups, for OSU Extension employees. They are named and described in the model. The competency model includes definitions for terms used in the model, a description of AOEs (Areas of Expertise), and 14 core competencies. Each competency has a title, is defined, and is described with 3-8 key actions that are illustrated using behavioral descriptions.The slide on your screen shows how the 14 competencies are arranged conceptually in the model. Based on the literature and my data, the competencies are grouped to facilitate understanding and illustrate connections among them. The competencies in each group are related and performance on the job might involve a number of competencies across groups that build on each other. There are 4 competencies grouped under interpersonal:Communication, diversity, interpersonal relationships, and teamwork & leadership.6 are grouped under the business of ExtensionCustomer service, knowledge of Extension, resource management, technology adoption & application, thinking & problem solving, and understanding stakeholders & communities.4 are grouped under personal competenciesContinuous learning, flexibility & change, professionalism, and self-direction.
  • The slide on your screen shows an example of one competency, customer service. You can see that it has a name, definition, and key actions. In the model, customer service is defined as “Works constantly to provide superior services for clientele, making each interaction a positive one. Understands who clientele are (internal and/or external) and delivers quality service through a customer-focused mindset that acknowledges the importance and value of the person being served; acts accordingly; dedicated to meeting expectations and needs of customers; uses customer feedback to improve.”Three of the 5 key actions for customer service are shown here.
  • Now that you have a sense of what the competency model looks like…Step back and briefly look at findings from the survey which were used to construct the final modelCompetencies & key actions were highly rated. Employees were asked to rate competencies and key actions on a 5-point Likert-type scale (94 employees were in the exemplary performer pool; 67 responded to the survey; 71% response rate)96% of respondents rated each competency overall as moderately imp, very imp, or essential69% rated each key action as moderately imp, very imp, or essentialNo competencies were eliminated as a result of the ratings.716 open-ended comments were reviewed, coded, and used to support or change language in the draft model.Example of a supportive comment for one key action in customer service:“If we don’t respond quickly, there are many other places where folks can go for answers.”
  • To collect data on relative priority, survey respondents were asked to select three competencies that they thought would be most important for their job performance during the next three years.While all competencies were highly rated, when forced to pick, there were some competencies that were judged to be more important than others.Five competencies that were selected by at least 25% of respondents for their top 3 are shown.It was still difficult for many respondents to pick only 3. One said “Picking three was hard as you cannot accomplish a goal without all of these competencies working together.”
  • The trends and implications represent current thinking on key trends and their implications for Extension work. These trends and implications were an important precursor to developing a competency model that is future-focused.There are a set of core competencies, relevant across job groups, for OSU Extension employees. They are named and described in the model. Data from employees supported this conclusion – employees across job groups thought the model described the range of core competencies important for successful Extension work.The competency model developed out of this research reflects organizational preferences, it is customized for OSU Extension. This means the model format and structure as well as the specific content is tailored to the needs of the organization. For example:AOEs (e.g., teaching, subject matter expertise)Language for competency titles, definitions, and key actionsThe model has face, content, and catalytic validity. They way in which in the model was constructed and repeatedly cycled back to employees resulted in a model that made sense to them, had high face validity.Content validity was established with the validation survey. Also, alignment between the OSUE model and other research supports the content.I also concluded that the model has catalytic validity, a term used in qualitative research to refer to the criterion of action. Essentially, evidence the research process, results, or both will lead to insight or informed action. There was evidence that employees gained insight about competencies and competency-based HR management through the research process and that they were anticipating application of the competency model to HR functions and their work.
  • Why competencies and why now for OSU Extension?*OSUE strategic planning process. I had been working with the strategic planning subgroup related to staffing. -frustrations with the performance evaluation process-hiring (e.g., focused too much on hiring based on subject matter/technical expertise)-professional development-succession planning*Through the strategic planning process, transitioning to a CBHRM was identified by the staff base subgroup as one strategy that would address a number of these critical issues related to staffing.Why CBHRM?Given the trends and issues organizations are facing (technology, increased rates & magnitude of change, flatter more flexible org. designs)A competency-based approach to human resources has been recommended as more effective than the traditional jobs-based approachShift focus from what people do (work done, work activity) to the HOWCBHRM – can provide focus on individual behaviors that contribute the most to organizational success.Core competencies (those that cut across jobs) have become increasingly important…distinctions between jobs become blurred, work roles change, environment is less stable.What is this approach (CBHRM) and what are the benefits?*Focus on identification, modeling, and assessment of competencies*Discover the skills, knowledge and characteristics that contribute to organizational success; are high leverage and configure HR activities around those-Much like Pereto’s Principle from economics…the 80:20 rule. In this case we want to identify the 20% of competencies that affect 80% of performance (high leverage).*Benefits - impact/outcomes for individuals and organizations. Examples include:HR functions – provide a common language to discuss performance & integrate hr functionsAlignmentPortability What does CBHR look like? (Use diagram showing competencies supporting the entire hr platform and linking organization strategy with hr and results)
  • Blank diagram in handoutFill in and discuss
  • Our research to develop core competencies followed recommended practices and resulted in a model that appears to have high face and content validity. The model is ready for use in the organization, including application to a variety of HR functions.Next steps for OSU Extension include:Communication & education – employees participating in the research appeared to benefit from learning about competencies and competency-based HR management. We have begun and will continue to extend this learning beyond the research participants to the entire organization.Competency assessment– competency assessment (opportunities for self-assessment and discussions with supervisors) will help with education about the competency model and provide baseline data for individuals and the organization related to the core competencies. This data will be used to prioritize investments in professional development opportunities. Integration with HR functionsPerformance management is one good example to discuss briefly. We know that employees and supervisors are frustrated with our current process and would like to see more alignment between what is reviewed and what is important to the organization. Balance between performance results (e.g., teaching, research and service) and competency appraisal.More focus on competencies is appropriate in uncertain environments and qualitative/process-oriented service jobs.Additional research will be needed such as identifying and describing what we are calling AOEs.DialogueRelated to what I presented or your experiences and thoughts/questions for the group.
  • Wrap UpThank you for joining me today for this seminar.Please complete the evaluation of teaching that will be collected by ….More information about the OSU Extension Competency Study and how OSU Extension is planning to use competency-based HRM is available online through URLs listed on your handout. Again, thank you for joining me.
  • Transcript

    • 1. OSU Extension Competency Study
      Epsilon Sigma Phi Conference
      September 14, 2009
      Graham Cochran
      Ohio State University Extension
    • 2. Research Problem & Purpose
      Research-based competency model needed
      Existing research & gaps
      Research objectives:
      Identify & describe competencies
      Construct a model
    • 3. 3
    • 4. Competencies
      Strategic Initiatives
      Work Context
      Performance Standards
      Exemplary Performance = Alignment
      * What is needed by the organization and human capital.
      Adapted from Schippmann, 1999
    • 5. Research Design & Methods
      Mixed methods, emphasis on qualitative
      Highly participatory
      Groups of employees as key informants
      Four phases
    • 6. Findings
      Findings @ each step
      Two documents; content was defined, refined, and validated using a multi-step process
      Trends and Implications
      5 trends and 7 implications
      OSUE Competency Model
      Operational definitions
      Description of areas of expertise (AOEs)
      14 competencies with a title, definition, and 3-8 key actions
    • 7. Implications
      Be flexible, proactive and embrace change
      Be customer driven
      Demonstrate and communicate the value of Extension work
      Demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit
      Become proficient in technology use and application
      Effectively manage work and life issues
      Build relationships and collaborate
    • 8. Competencies Grouped Conceptually
    • 9. Customer service
      Works constantly to provide superior services for clientele, making each interaction a positive one. Understands....
      Key actions
      Listens and provides a response that is timely and meets clientele needs.
      Delivers friendly and courteous service.
      Looks for and makes continuous improvements.
    • 10. Survey Findings
      Competencies & key actions were highly rated
      Competencies overall
      96% rated each as moderately important, very important or essential
      Key actions
      69% rated each as moderately important, very important or essential
      Open-ended comments
    • 11. Relative Priority
      When asked to select 3 competencies that would be most important, employees selected…
      Flexibility & change (53%)
      Customer service (45%)
      Communication (37%)
      Teamwork & leadership (31%)
      Technology adoption & application (25%)
    • 12. Conclusions
      Trends and Implications – current thinking
      OSUE Competency Model
      Names and describes core competencies
      Reflects organizational preferences; customized
      High face and content validity
      Catalytic validity
    • 13. “Competency-based HR applications represent an integrated framework for maximizing the human capital of an organization.”~Moulton, 2003
      What is this approach?
      What does it look like?
    • 14. Competency-based HR: Linkages and alignment
    • 15. Implications & Plans for Ohio
      Next steps for OSU Extension
      Communication & education
      Competency assessment
      Integration with HR functions (2010 – 2011)
      Recruitment & selection
      Professional development
      Performance management
      Succession planning
      Additional modeling – expand model & add detail
    • 16. OSU Extension Competency Study
      Epsilon Sigma Phi Conference
      September 14, 2009
      Graham Cochran
      Ohio State University Extension