Is Competency Underrated?

Like the rest of the HR world, I am still buzzing about all of the excellent sessions I attended during the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas. Or perhaps the buzz is coming from the extra-large coffee I had this morning because, well, Vegas.

HR Tech introduced a variety of new topics to engage both clients and vendors, including a session called, “HR Tech Talks.” Featuring Paul Sparta, China Gorman, and Yvette Cameron, topics ranged from managing vendor-client relationships to overcoming social adoption hurdles in order to elevate brand success. While each panelist provided tremendous insight, I was particularly struck by China Gorman’s focus on competency in the workplace.

Posing the question, “Is Competence Underrated?”, Gorman addressed key points about change management and employee transition. Companies, like people, are constantly evolving and trying to figure out how to obtain the best position in the marketplace. However, evolution often means adopting a new system, and in most cases, new technologies. Gorman pointed out that unless employees are given access to comprehensive training and assistance during the implementation process, they are left to feel incompetent and overwhelmed.

Adults Like to Feel Competent

Drawing upon the Kirkpatrick Model, Gorman broke down the training process into four categories: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. Employers must build training around their employees to assist with each phase of the overall process, according to Gorman, or risk losing out to confusion and frustration.

Gorman said, “Adults like to be competent and it’s important, as an employer, to remember this. When you introduce change that suddenly makes them incompetent, productivity plummets and morale decreases.”

And while it is ultimately up to the employee to adapt to new technologies and changes as quickly as possible, adding operational support helps to ease the transition. Gorman reiterated that early adopters to new technologies can move a company forward faster, but until that level of unconscious competence is reached, support and structure are essential to keeping employees grounded and feeling secure.

Overall, this session, and more importantly, the panelists, raised some interesting talking points and provided an outline that both clients and vendors could appreciate. Which brings me to a word of advice to next year’s panelists: Bring your “A” game. The bar has been set pretty high.

Image used under Creative Commons from dullhunk.