Building manager buy-in for competency-based rubrics

January 11, 2023

What’s the best way to train managers and leaders on using competency-based rubrics for performance and talent management? We’ve discussed which teams are involved in implementation and essential key messages to manage change, especially for employees.

Managers are unique and critical stakeholders in workplace programs because they are both a user (providing feedback in the tool) and a champion (ensuring their teams use its functionality). Managers are busy folks with many competing responsibilities, so new programs and tools need to clearly present a solution for them. That is, the return on investment for their time and energy must be transparent and significant.

Messaging for managers

Overall, it's important to be clear, concise, and persuasive when communicating the benefits and value of a new workplace program. By highlighting the potential benefits, providing supporting data and research, and offering support and resources, you can help managers see the value in implementing the program and make a stronger case for its adoption.

Using data and research, explain the program's benefits for employees, managers, and the organization as a whole: We know that career growth, particularly career goal progress and professional development, has a positive impact on employee engagement. In fact, according to Deloitte, most millennial workers believe it is a leader’s role to provide them with development opportunities - growth opportunities are one of their five pillars for employee engagement. This can help managers understand the program's potential impact and why it is worth investing in.

Communicate the risks of not implementing the program: Risk-averse Individuals may be persuaded by understanding the risks of not moving forward with the new career progression program. Help the manager understand the potential risks like missed opportunities, attrition, or falling behind competitors. For example, in the technology industry, two-thirds of employees believe they could find a better job in 60 days or less. And organizations that have highly engaged employees have increased customer satisfaction and profits than organizations that don’t.

Align the program with company goals: Show how the program aligns with the company's overall goals and objectives. This can help managers see how the program fits into the bigger picture and how it can help the company achieve its goals, as our examples speak to the cost of managerial time associated with attrition.

Share which support and resources are available, as well as the initial and ongoing feedback mechanisms: Clarify the IT support, workplace learning programs, and other supports from Human Resources that will ensure successful implementation. This should also include how managers can provide feedback on the program, initially and ongoing.

How to train managers on a new competency-based rubric

There are several ways to train managers and leaders on using a new competency-based rubric for performance and talent management:

Start with an overview: Provide a general overview of the new competency-based rubric and its purpose. This will help managers and leaders understand the rationale behind the new system. For example, Pando encourages employees to track their impact continuously, logging achievements as they progress, not at a single point in time. Moving from cyclical to just-in-time career progression benefits managers in building rapport and increasing employee engagement. The continuous feedback will also greatly reduce the burden of preparing for annual performance reviews with all team members at one time.

Clarify the competencies: Clearly define and explain each competency and its associated behaviors. This can be done through training sessions with HR as well as providing a handbook for managers to refer to. Provide examples of how the competencies can be demonstrated in the workplace.

Train on how to use the rubric: Provide training on how to use the rubric to assess employee performance and identify development opportunities. This could include how to use the rubric as part of goal setting, performance reviews, and succession planning. Human Resources may want to set targets for how often managers use the tool or how often managers should coach employees to use the tool.

Practice using the rubric: Provide opportunities for managers and leaders to practice using the rubric in simulated or real-world scenarios. A manager-led Community of Practice on career progression is one approach to ensuring peers share their challenges and successes. This will help them become comfortable with the new system and provide feedback on any areas of confusion or difficulty.

Provide ongoing support: Offer ongoing support and resources to help managers and leaders use the rubric effectively. This could include access to training materials, coaching, professional development resources to share with staff, or a central resource center.

What should managers communicate to their teams?

Managers will need to ensure transparency and consistency across the organization when using a new competency-based rubric for performance and talent management. Managers should:

Communicate the purpose and expectations of the rubric to their teams: Make sure that everyone understands the purpose of the rubric and what is expected of them. If Human Resources has established targets for how the tool is used, managers can share these with their teams. Managers can amplify messages from HR about this paradigm shift and its positive impact.

Use the rubric consistently: Managers need to evaluate all employees using the same criteria and standards. These criteria and standards should be transparent for employees and reiterated by managers who link employees to appropriate workplace learning opportunities for development.

Encourage open communication and feedback: If employees are engaged for feedback on their user experience by HR, managers can help facilitate time spent on this, as well as asking their teams for feedback directly. 

Managers play a special and important role in an organization when it comes to implementing competency-based rubrics. Their engagement and feedback is critical as users, coaches, and champions. Make sure it is clear to them how new tools are a solution.

If you’d like to learn more about Pando can help, reach out for a demonstration of our competency-based system.