Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Competencies & Performance

"The best predictor of future performance is past performance."

The above was our mantra for the Performance-Based Interviewing project at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Jobs at VA were described in terms of duties and responsibilities, the competencies required to perform the duties and exercise the responsibilities were identified, and interview questions were developed to assess whether candidates possessed the required competencies.

In Hire With Your Head: Using Performance-Based Hiring to Build Great Teams, Lou Adler suggests a more direct approach: figure out what you want done and ask the candidates to describe or demonstrate the capacity to do it.

In one way, this is a very old idea. When I entered the workforce as a typist, I took a typing test. (AKA keyboarding for the post-typewriter generations. :-) )

The idea of performance testing gets much more complicated when dealing with duties and responsibilities that are more difficult to demonstrate in an interview. Adler gives the example of an interview for a position involving the development of marketing plans. The interviewer and interviewee outlined a plan during the interview. The interviewee was hired and used that outline to complete and implement the plan.

If we try to apply this concept to the MFC (Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee) interview, we can see that the first challenge is deciding what we want ministers to do. The tasks of healthcare chaplaincy, community organizing, and parish ministry overlap, but are far from identical.

The second challenge is evaluation. During an interview, you can demonstrate skill outlining a marketing plan or delivering a 10-minute sermon. Neither assures is that you will be successful at implementing a marketing plan or regularly leading worship that inspires a congregation/community.

That these challenges are daunting should not be discouraging. The reflection and dialogue required to address them will be strengthen and deepen our religion.

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