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This post has been contributed by Edward J. Cripe, President, Workitect, Inc. If you’d like to be a contributor, please contact us.

Building a One-Size-Fits-All Competency Model by @HRTMExec and @Workitect

In the one-size-fits-all approach, a competency model is developed for a broadly defined set of jobs that may have very different responsibilities and knowledge requirements. Most often, the competency model is developed for one level of jobs, such as managers, associates, or senior leaders.

The competency model often includes competencies selected for alignment with the company’s values and strategic direction. Thus competencies may have names like “Respecting All People” or “Bias for Action.”

The competencies are often described in general terms that are not job specific, since the competency model covers a broad range of jobs which may have significantly different responsibilities.

When the One-Size-Fits-All Approach is Appropriate

  • When line management or HR managers wants to promote alignment with vision, values, and strategy
  • When key stakeholders prefer simple solutions and have a low tolerance for complexity
  • When HR professionals want to implement something quickly that will have a broad impact
  • When the budget for developing competency models is limited

Advantages of the One-Size-Fits-All Approach

The one-size-fits-all approach sends a clear and simple message about the personal characteristics and skills that are important to the organization. A competency model built with this approach is broadly applicable to a large number of employees, as are applications based on the model. For example, a competency assessment tool based on the model can be used with all of the employees in the job. Finally, the use of this approach promotes a common language and conceptual framework to use in describing key skills.

Disadvantages of the One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Because the model is used with a wide range of jobs, employees may not feel that it applies well to their particular job. If many of the competencies were selected to describe what the leaders would like people to demonstrate, rather than what superior performers actually do, people may perceive the model to be more espoused than true. The one-size-fits-all approach is not as useful as other approaches in guiding selection, since selection of candidates for a specific job may require consideration of job-specific skills, knowledge, and experience that are not included in the one-size-fits-all competency model.

Data Collection in the One-Size-Fits-All Approach

When using this approach, it is less important to identify responsibilities and tasks. Since the model will cover a broad range of jobs, the only responsibilities that are important are ones that apply to all of the jobs. Since the competency model will usually reflect the organization’s mission, values, and strategic direction, it is important to talk to senior HR leaders and senior line leaders, if possible, to ensure that the mission, values, and strategic direction are understood and carefully considered. For the competency model to have credibility, it is highly desirable to conduct interviews with several superior performers. These interviews should focus on obtaining specific behavioral accounts of what these persons did during key job situations, such as accomplishments or performance of important and challenging tasks.

An example of a one-size-fits-all model, for all executives in a manufacturing company, can be seen at

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