Smart leaders and managers know that it is important to build and maintain the value of their greatest resource - their people. It's difficult to develop the potential of your people if you have not ascertained their existing skills, knowledge, and abilities - in other words, their competencies.

Each individual's competency requirements will differ depending upon the role s/he fills within the group and/or team. For example, individuals who work with other departments or directly with clients may need a broader spectrum of communication skills and business or political savvy than those who work solely with their technical teammates. Others may need a certain in-depth knowledge of a software package or computer language. Still others may need to have a clear understanding of testing protocols.

Paul Glen, author of Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead People Who Deliver Technology, suggests that the following twelve competencies be used to measure and guide the productivity of techies (listed in order of increasing difficulty and complexity):

** Technical competence [early career]

** Personal productivity [early career]

** Ability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously

** Ability to describe the business context of technical work

** Ability to forge compromises between business and technical constraints [for more advanced work]

** Ability to manage client relationships [leaders/managers]

** Ability to manage technical teams [leaders/managers]

** Ability to play positive politics [leaders/managers]

** Ability to help expand client relationships [leaders/managers]

** Ability to work through others, to make others productive

** Ability to manage ambiguity [leaders/managers]

** Ability to manage time horizons

Your Human Resources department should be able to suggest various formal test instruments and/or processes for evaluating individual competency levels in these areas. In addition, the Leader's Edge CA teleseminar Techies on the Rise: Five Essentials for Mastering Technical Leadership recommends ways to assess the competencies and overall performance of your people, including (but not limited to):

** Spotlight reviews and presentations

** Skills assessment instruments

** Tracking helpful statistics

Personal Development Options

The rapidly changing pace of technology requires that your people continue to learn and grow or be left behind. If you want to attract and retain top talent, you must be willing to continually invest in their long-term personal development.

Techies are perpetual students; they love to learn and expand their knowledge and skill sets. As innovators, this is a necessity, not a luxury. If you provide an environment where continual learning is encouraged, you will retain the good people you have and attract other top performers.

Here are a few suggested ways to encourage personal development:

** In-house mentoring programs

** Individual and/or group coaching

** Free or low-cost teleseminars, self-paced e-courses, e-books, and other information products

** Local live events (conferences, training seminars, professional meetings, etc.)

** In-house "lunch and learn" workshops/mini-seminars and technical round-table discussions

Author's Bio: 

Yvonne Ryan, the Techie Leadership Coach, is founder of Leader’s Edge CA. Through innovative programs like Techies on the RiseTM, Techies in TransitionTM, and a FREE weekly teleforum called Beyond the CubicleTM, Yvonne helps technical professionals develop the skills to become effective leaders. Visit her Web site at: