Welcome me to Competencies

Since this content area is new to me I had to do much background research on competencies to gain a basis for understanding them. The materials were helpful for developing a framework and standard for creating competencies. However I had to do broad and deep research to discover why they are important and how they are used.

It was interesting to see the competency models on Google search. These helped me understand visually how these models are created and organized. It is also a good preview of the different methods to develop competency models. For example, there seem to be three main visual means to organize competencies- the pyramid, target, and overlapping circle. I look forward to learning these methods.

I also did deep research into competencies for instructional designers. There was great information on the Association for Talent Development website (formerly ASTD). There model has a broader focus on training and development. I like how it clearly separates foundational competencies from areas of specialization. As for their list of competencies for ID, it is a bit brief without detailed description. For a detailed description I turned to International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI). This model is much more focused, divides the competencies into domains with detailed description, and offers qualifying standards for a 15$ fee.

Once I had this background information, I was able to search for job descriptions using Google, Indeed and Linkedin. I was able to recognize that some companies have strongly integrated competencies into their HR and business operations. One of these is Cengage. Below is an example from one of their job descriptions for a Digital Content Designer:

  • Project Scheduling, Content Preparation, and Quality Assurance Test Plans
    Participates in planning innovative publishing paths to facilitate fast cycle time and cost effectiveness.
  • Develops detailed content submission schedules for primary print and digital products and ancillaries.
  • Coordinates authors’ and other subject matter experts responsibilities for preparation of both print and digital content

This is a small sample from a two page job description. It shows how the competency has been clearly defined with action verbs and would be measurable. Meanwhile, other companies do not show evidence of using a competency based HR or business system, as the qualifying verbs and difficult to measure descriptions imply:

Key Abilities/Competencies:
     Strong written and verbal communication skills
     Demonstrate high-level of professional and business judgment when communicating with cross-functional teams and others at all levels of the organization
     Must be proficient with Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel and Power Point.
     Ability to function independently and have a high level of initiative

So how is this important to Instructional Designers? The most important question that a manager or supervisor will ask is, “How well did you do your job?” As an instructional designer we can leverage the Bloom’s Taxonomy action verbs to show we have done a good job. First we can use it to design the competencies. Then we can use these competencies to measure performance. When we find performance lacking we can design specific learning objectives and use quantitative and qualitative means to measure the learning.

Although I am new to the art and science of competencies, I look forward to gaining skills to use them to help organizations and their people perform better!

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