Our People Are Our Key Asset


Welcome to the second of six in our series on Competency Based Talent Management (CBTM). Check back weekly as we discuss the challenges associated with CBTM and explore solutions.

Our people are our key asset! How many times have you seen this on the walls of major corporations? If this is true, then should we be applying some sort of asset maximization strategy to this key asset? I would assume that any expenses (training, coaching, recruiting, etc.) associated with maximizing this key asset have a very high priority and are one of the last items cut from budgets? By the way, how much of your capital dollars are you allocating to this asset? To truly embrace this thinking, you have to adopt a mental model of viewing your organization as a consulting company whose only value producing assets are the employees. In our last post, we laid out the case for Talent Management. In this post, we will address Competency Based Talent Management (CBTM) and then talk about some of the key issues in developing and executing a CBTM strategy.

The first step is determining the Intended Consequences (IC) of your Sourcing/Supply Chain organization. These ICs need to be directly derived from, and tied to, the overall corporate objectives and strategy of the company. Are you an organization measured by the year-over-year price savings that you get from your supply base while reducing lead time and improving quality? Or are you an organization that is measured by the impact you have in reducing sales cycles, increasing margins on existing deals, and streamlining the time to market of new product introductions? Think of this as defining the market you are trying to serve as a consulting company. Are you aspiring to impact tactical and operational Value Drivers or are you also looking to directly impact the overall corporate goals and strategy and therefore be a direct part of the elusive CEO’s agenda? That will help you determine the required characteristics of the asset base you will need to deliver on the Intended Consequences. This role definition then becomes the foundation for your desired competency model. From there, it’s on to determining where you are today, the gaps between where you are today and where you need to be, and then making sure that you have an asset maximization strategy in place that is funded for the next 3-5 years to close the gaps. Voila! All done! Obviously it’s a bit more complicated than that and we will be happy to share a very detailed model and an approach to getting it done. Here are a number of challenges that you should be aware of:

  • Commit only when you can deliver to expectations.
    CBTM will raise the expectations of the employees so make sure you are ready to launch and deliver.
  • Designing the solution is only a start.
    Focus on the adoption issues and invest as much in them as in solution design, if not more.
  • Competencies are applied skill and knowledge towards the Intended Consequences.
    The focus has to be on demonstrated application whether you are recruiting or promoting.
  • Shortage of talent is a symptom, not a cause.
    Apply systems thinking to the entire life cycle of Talent Management (recruiting, training/development, performance evaluation, career development and succession planning). Otherwise, you will always be recruiting.
  • Hold your direct reports accountable for success of CBTM.
    Ensure it’s in their goal sheets in a meaningful way.
  • It’s not a tactic — it’s a strategy.
    Account for appropriate time for the strategy.
  • Think asset portfolio maximization.

In our upcoming posts we will address some of the Next Practices associated with each of the five phases in the Competency Based Talent Management life cycle.

If you are interested in getting involved or would like to follow this topic further, here are a series of critical activities coming up.

  • Major research project geared towards not just identifying the problem but to identifying Next Practices to solve the problems
  • White Paper to focus on Next Practices in Competency Based Talent Management
  • A webinar discussing our findings in detail

Please share your thoughts and challenges regarding Talent Management below. We would love to hear your insights.



Reposted on Sourcing Innovation.



    • We use several techniques to scorecard and measure differing skill sets.

      The first is an internal screen to see how the skill sets of individuals compare against each other. Are those individuals that score highest actually the best performers? Often times there may be important skills (Change Management, Consulting & Facilitation, Teamwork) that aren’t being measured yet play a critical role in success.

      Once this internal screen is performed we can benchmark externally against two types of standards. Best practices and next practice companies. We have several sources for this information.

      Two important nuances to also consider are:
      1) What interdependencies need to be in place between skills? We would question whether someone is truly skilled at Strategic Sourcing without, say, high skills in Teamwork, Negotiations & Contracting, and Consulting & Facilitation.
      2) Skills are useless unless they are actually being deployed and used. Measuring frequency is as important as measuring skill.

      Hope this helps.

      • Rob Sweetland on

        How do you determine best practices? Do you CLC or some other research organization. How do you identify/define next practice companies?

        • Hi Rob,

          Long time, no see. Very interesting question and one which deserves more than a short answer but here goes – There are a number of places you can go to gather some current Best Practices and I can point you to some of them if you would like. However, if it’s Next Practices you are looking for, then the challenge becomes a little harder. I will be happy to share what we have learned over the last 12-18 months in this quest. We of course have our own research efforts and are in the midst of one right now on this topic.



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