• Tomás Romero Borzi

Pursue a real multidisciplinary T-Shaped team by chase competencies, instead of roles

Actualizado: 21 nov 2020

How to grow and cultivate an empowered system, Vol III.

How to generate real synergy, empowerment, and close gaps on your teams by complement competencies instead of profiles with the Competency Matrix practice of Management 3.0?

We are migrating from a siloes-centered team proposal to a multidisciplinary team one. As you imagine Agile continues promoting since the very beginning.

Why is that? We have a lot of information surrounding us every moment. In the form of readings, articles, videos, podcasts, audios, courses, workshops, and more and more and more.

Creativity emerges where 2 or more areas that no one thought before collides. Where innovation, new projects, and ideas appear.

As a team, we can't have silos, because if something happens to someone (good or bad) no one can take that person's tasks or understand how things work.

For that, the T-Person theory, multidisciplinary theory, and others promote diversity on the teams, and what is more important, in a self-organizing way! (Very agile)

With the team, we are part of a Software Development company, with more than 15,000 employees around the world.

As working on a multidisciplinary team, with multiples areas involves (from Recruiting, HR, Technology, etc.), we had the goal to think (and create) different pieces of training and activities for the whole company.

So, the situation we faced, as a new team, (and what I think into consideration to use this practice) was to see if can identify the competencies needed, for the tasks of create new trainings and activities we had to do together as a team, for the whole company.

That's why I thinked into what Management 3.0 proposes with Competency Matrix: https://management30.com/practice/competency-matrix/.

With this practice you can work together to make sure that the multidisciplinary teams have multiples disciplines and that the team can cover the goal and deliver with quality following what is needed for them.

The idea is to put on a transparent, fast, beautiful way, the gaps each member has, and how the team can tackle it down, together, not as someone generates this and impose them to do the job.

So, first, you need to identify the goal you have, the situation, or the objectives as a team you are following.

Second, as a team, you need to identify the competencies needed to do that successfully, and the competency level required for each one.

Then, each member of the team did a self-assessment on the level of competency has, using three colored dots:

  • Red if you are on an Apprentice level (you don't know what they are talking about, but, you are interested in learning that).

  • Yellow if you have Practiced on that competency (you can do it, by yourself, or with limited supervision).

  • Green for the Master (you can teach anyone about that, and help others on your way)

After that, you can generate a strategy on how to fill the gaps you have (if that situation happens)

In my case what I did was:

What you are going to read is a proposal, not a ruleset, or steps to follow, those were the steps that I did with some teams, so you can adapt it on your own with whatever fits better.

  1. Since all of us were remote (thanks to COVID), I used a Miro board, with our faces on the columns, some empty rows to fill the competencies, and help for what each color means.

  1. Then we defined the competency that was required for us to reach certain goals.

  2. In this case, one member thinks about competency, and we discuss altogether if that's a skill, a role, or a competency, and then we added it if more than half of the team agrees (democracy).

  3. For each competency, we also add the competency level required, using the same system as before.

  1. After that, we assess how each of us is in terms of those levels.

  2. This is a very personal way to view the topics. I can think of myself as an Apprentice on competency, but others see me as a Master, and of course, this can be covered in a conversation, that can push into what is needed for each competency and how to be all on the same page.

In the end, you have a very visual tool that brings you instantly where you are, and if needed, where you need to act.

As you can see, the competencies are not a role or profession-oriented, they are thought of as behavioral acts, functionals, people-oriented, similar to soft-skill.

If you add Lawyer Title, probably the only way to add more masters on your team is hiring or adding more Lawyers.

Instead, if you think into competencies, things that a lawyer can do, Law understanding, negotiation, preparations, speech, etc, there is a lot more way to act as a team.

This brings you to other conversations between the members, knowing better about each other, discovering something new about them, and seeing what is needed as a team to fill the gap.

Motivating people to think more deeply about finding ways to develop the missing skills, think into actions.

Some actions can be, but not limited too if there is a master on a competency that needs more people on higher levels, probably that person can be a mentor and teach them; as a team starts doing courses or learning on something that, after some time helps you increase the level on certain competencies; you can bring someone external that help you temporarily on a topic, and others proposals to develop skills and approaches.

The team reacted to these practices, as you can think, that can help you to identify and improve your role matrix, generate a network with the team and outside the team, identify actions to do, and as a very fast way to get feedback on how to improve together towards the goals, identifying our strengths and opportunities to grow.

As a facilitator I learned, the relevance to know where we are and what is needed to achieve the goals. That was something relevant to all the team and gives us opportunities to learn, improve, and experiment.

It was very helpful for us to identify in future opportunities gaps that we can close, or resolve in different ways.

My next experiment with this practice will be, as a Facilitator, to brainstorm 2~5 minutes on the competencies needed, individually, and then share with the team, so the list could be more wider and accurate and is not always the same members talking and proposing. The same for the tasks and jobs needed to be done.

As a team, we create spaces to talk about this, and propose new activities, for example "book sharing" space, where we share with others books related to a topic or competency we identified that needs to be worked all together.

I encourage you to think about the competencies needed to achieve the goals (as individual or within your team), to discover if you are closing the gap, or if any action is needed, between you or for the company.

See you next time, on the next How to grow an empowered system volume.

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