People: Supply Chain's Secret Weapon

The complete guide to developing sustainable, strategic competencies


FMC benefited not only from the development of the competency model, but from the early involvement of the Strategic Sourcing team. Engaging the team early began fostering the buy-in, sense of ownership and commitment necessary for any successful change initiative.

Developing the Model

The competency model was developed from a number of inputs: the executive's vision, the employee job analysis interviews, interviews of key customers of strategic sourcing, current job profiles and, most importantly, the research that has been conducted by TMG of samples of world-class sourcing competency models. TMG developed a "straw man" model and reviewed it in detail with the executive team. The model was very detailed, generally covering seven to 10 competencies across four different proficiency levels (foundation, intermediate, advanced and mastery). The model was defined by behaviors to make it practical and usable. An excerpt from a TMG competency model follows, illustrating the change management competency as exhibited at the mastery level of a given job family:

1.4A.1 — Works with executives to provide change leadership beyond Sourcing and Procurement.

1.4B.2 — Innovative industry leader who develops high-level organizational change management models and practices that elevate performance and operational excellence for FMC Technologies and its partners.

1.4C.3 — Interfaces often with executives to establish alignment and advise on change sponsorship, articulating vision and strategy for strategic sourcing and procurement.

1.4D.4 Incorporates change methods and new [key performance indicators (KPIs)] into how business is done and performance is measured (reshaping the business scorecard) at FMC Technologies.

Once developed, the competency model was mapped to each job family. FMC was able to group all their strategic sourcing/supply chain jobs into five job families as follows:

  • Leader
  • Manager/Supervisor
  • Sourcing Professional
  • Buyer
  • Process Support/Expeditor

These job families are important because they allow the competency model to be relevant across numerous levels of the organization. For example, everyone needs some level of competence in change management but at significantly different levels of depth and proficiency. Those individuals in the Leader job family need to display behaviors at the mastery level (see model above) while those individuals in the Buyer job family only need a foundational level. This approach accomplished many objectives:

  • It helped FMC and the employees clearly understand the skills and competencies necessary to be successful at their current job level.
  • It helped employees to see which competencies were necessary to move to the next level.
  • It gave management a foundation for future objective setting and performance evaluation.
  • It gave TMG a very clear model from which to evaluate current gaps.
  • It laid the foundation for identifying professional development opportunities for the group as a whole.

Conducting Competency/Skill Gap Analysis

This step produced the competency assessment instruments and the individual competency assessments.

Based on the required competencies for each job family, TMG customized an assessment instrument for use in performing the gap analysis. The staff completed the assessment instrument and validated it with their immediate supervisor through a face-to-face meeting to develop consensus on the individual's current competency levels. The assessment instrument can also be used for ongoing review and alignment activities.

The face-to-face meeting occurs in an open and positive atmosphere focused on identifying true needs and building ownership of those needs in the individual. The primary focus is discussion and comparison of ratings, exploration of additional skill needs and reaching consensus on the individuals agreed proficiency levels.

Alternative methods that could be used include top down assessments (completed by managers only) or pure self-assessments (completed by individuals only). Both techniques can also be effective and are less time-consuming but may not build full alignment and ownership of development needs.

Determining Priorities and Techniques to Close Gaps

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