Why and how your company should set communication competencies

Organizations increasingly are drawing up detailed lists of skillsets to help with hiring, job evaluations, career advancement and earning a voice among the senior leaders.

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Amid the scurry to shovel out the daily messaging or whiteboard the long-term planning, communicators often neglect a crucial question:

What are the core competencies needed to do this job?

In a competitive world, organizations must learn to map out the skillsets—”competencies” is the buzzword—that their teams must possess to succeed in a rapidly evolving industry.

“If you don’t have competencies defined, how do you define who’s doing it well?” says Mark Dollins, president of North Star Communications Consulting, who has helped Toyota Motor Corp, Visa Inc., Xerox Corp. and other clients draw up competency models.

Competencies are defined as the mix of skills, knowledge and experience needed to be a high performer, says Liam FitzPatrick, senior consultant at Quiller Consultants, in an interview from London. They can’t just be pulled out of a box, but must be adapted to fit each organization’s unique needs.

Establishing competencies takes the subjectivity out of questions such as what makes a good performance, how career advancement should occur, and what separates entry-level skills from mastery, Dollins says. Competency models also help organizations plan for future hiring needs by revealing gaps on their teams.

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