Meld. St. 14 (2012-2013)

Competency for a new era

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2 The defence sector as a competency-based organisation

2.1 Competency in a new era

The transition from a mobilisation defence to a rapid reaction capability defence is paralleled by the development from a former industrial society to today’s knowledge society. Furthermore, productivity in both our rapid reaction capability defence and our knowledge society is not primarily related to machines, mechanics and muscle power, but to well-informed employees. The ability to make use of knowledge, identify new solutions and combine competencies in new ways is decisive for successful completion of the modern-day missions for the defence sector and for its ability to develop and meet future challenges.

Competency is the most critical factor for the defence sector’s abilities to fulfil its missions. This must be reflected to a much greater degree in the quality, long-term perspective and systematisation of the processes implemented to ensure the defence sector has the necessary competency for today and tomorrow. Competency has to play a decisive role in control and management and form a central part of decision-making processes.

The defence sector has not yet completed its development from a management focus on personnel development to the strategic management of competency. In the future, all organisations shall carry out competency analyses and systematic employee development. More systematic management shall be introduced for learning by experience and sharing experience at both unit and sector level. This will not only provide more support for technological systems, but also require a cultural change within the organisation, both among managers and employees.

Textbox 2.1 The defence sector achieved a high score from the Universum student survey

The Universum Student Survey 2012 was completed by several thousand students on a wide range of courses at Universities and colleges in Norway. Universum Top 100 is a list of the most attractive employers in Norway, based on the results of the Student Survey. On the Top 100, Norwegian students have allocated a high score to the defence sector units within the four survey categories; economy, technology, data/IT and the Humanities.

Top 100 Economy

No. 52: The Armed Forces

Top 100 Technology

No. 39: The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment

No. 43: The Armed Forces

No. 57: The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency

Top 50 Data/IT:

No. 11: The Armed Forces

No. 27: The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment

Top 50 Humanities

No. 17: The Armed Forces

The survey asked questions regarding the students’ expectations for working life, career ambitions and their dream jobs for the future. Factors the students in the 2012 survey had in common included the hope to achieve a balance between work and free time, a safe workplace and a challenging job, in addition to the potential to work abroad. The survey indicates that the students have identified these opportunities within the current defence sector organisations.

Source Universum 2012

2.2 Complex requirement for competency and complementary expertise

All the different organisations within the sector must maintain a continuous and long-term focus on working to secure the correct composition of competency, the correct balance between comprehensive and specialised competency and that competency is utilised and developed to the greatest degree possible.

Figure 2.1 Daniela Heinrich, researcher at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, made use of optical sensors to test smoke rounds at the Rena camp in January 2012, as a part of the tests for a new type of artillery ammunition.

Figure 2.1 Daniela Heinrich, researcher at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, made use of optical sensors to test smoke rounds at the Rena camp in January 2012, as a part of the tests for a new type of artillery ammunition.

Photo: The Norwegian Defence Research Establishment

The Armed Forces alone are charged with exercising military power. Personnel with a broad and comprehensive range of competency on military use of force and relevant technology are fundamentally important for the operative mission capability of the Armed Forces. At the same time, the increase in complexity generates a need for more composite and specialised competency for both the individual employee and the individual organisation. The type of specialisation has to be reflected by the way in which the Armed Forces choose to develop the competency required to fulfil their tasks. This is not an issue of closing down functions, rather identifying forward-looking ways of procuring competency. The Armed Forces therefore need to recruit from a wider section of society and provide more comprehensive development and exploitation of these new recruits, at the same time ensuring a broader integration of competency developed outside the sector with new recruits and re-recruitment at middle and senior management levels. To achieve this, the recruitment processes have to be more open and focused on competency. As such, competency must be the determining factor during recruitment, rather than personnel category. This applies to specifying competency requirements when publishing vacancies, evaluating candidates and ranking diversity of competency and total competency within a team, and requires a review of the positions within the Armed Forces with a view to defined requirements on competency, irrespective of how these requirements were traditionally formulated.

Selection, education and career paths within the Armed Forces have mainly been homogeneous and have focused on development of management skills and generalised competency. These processes have not been sufficiently adapted to a more heterogeneous competency requirement and the need for specialisation. One of the main target areas for the personnel schemes will be to secure development of specialised competency, quality and continuity for horizontal career paths, as described in chapter 7.

Textbox 2.2 The military profession

At the very core of the military profession is the exercise of military power as the ultimate instrument for security policy. Military personnel therefore carry a unique responsibility to secure the state, its population and society at large, and to solve demanding operative assignments in peacetime, during crises and war. Military expertise is developed through education, training and exercises and requires specialised knowledge in addition to the actual use of force, for example security policy, emergency preparedness, understanding of different cultures, language, technology, logistics and resource management. Good management skills are decisive in a crisis or military operation. Modern day reality for the military attaches greater importance to military ethics as a part of military education and training. These principles remain just as definite as ever but are more difficult to apply as the divide between combative and non-combative is no longer as clear as in former conflicts. Military personnel have to be prepared to make difficult choices under pressure and to make these choices quickly. This requires a high level of ethical reflection, an in-depth understanding of international law during war, strength of mind and, not least, training. The military profession places unique obligations on the shoulders of officers in terms of reaction capacity, command and deployment.

Compulsory military service is and will always be fundamental for the Armed Forces. The increased complexity of the competency requirement must be reflected by increasing the differentiation of selection criteria during national service and at schools.

The ability to plan and execute operations is absolutely essential within the military profession. As competency requirements grow increasingly complex, the defence sector must supplement military competency with competency developed outside the sector to a much higher degree than today. The requirement for reaction capability implies that many new recruits who have been educated in the civil sector require additional military education so that they can assume positions which require military-specific competency and the obligations and responsibility which follow with such a position.

Schemes must also be developed which are more flexible in terms of job changes and phasing out so that the substantial investments made in competency are exploited to the maximum within the defence sector. Flexibility must therefore be an integrated part of a good personnel policy.

2.3 Strategic competency management

The competency reform will necessitate a change in how competency is managed as part of the strategic management of sector and its agencies, and as a part of the development and control of the organisation. This is a fundamental premise for the work on developing initiatives and implementation, and is decisive for generating genuine and long-lasting results.

Textbox 2.3 Pilot project on strategic competency analysis in the Armed Forces

In the spring of 2012, a pilot project on strategic competency analysis was carried out within the Armed Forces, as part of the ongoing process on the competency reform for the defence sector. The purpose of the pilot project was to develop models, approaches, methodology and processes for strategic competency analysis which are specially adapted to the defence sector. The methodical approach was based on the Directive for Strategic Competency Management in the Armed Forces (DISKO).

Competency analyses were performed for three groups of competencies; marine engineering in the Royal Navy, operations in the Royal Navy and project management in the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation. The pilot project uncovered gaps in competency within certain competency groups and assessed how different measures impact on these gaps. The analyses have helped form the basis for a strategic discussion on competency in the defence sector.

The pilot project is a first step on the path to developing fact-based grounds for decision-making for strategic competency management. Based on the experience gained during the pilot project, a new project has been set up entitled Strategic Competency Analysis, in which representatives from all organisations within the sector are taking part, including the Ministry of Defence. This project will afford the defence sector more experience of competency analyses.

Modern competency-based organisations have a mutual link between competency requirements and the results generated by the individual employee and development of competencies. Strategic competency management is a tool and a working method which can be used to ensure the necessary level of competency. This implies systematic and strategic work to chart current and future competency requirements and to analyse what this means in relation to the individual employee.

For the defence sector, this implies that competency has a much wider importance than before. Processes which today mainly occur independently must in the future be seen in correlation, for example personnel management, education, structural development and the management of agencies and organisations.

Textbox 2.4 Project 2813 HRM (Human Resources Management)

The Armed Forces are currently in the engineering phase of a new HR system scheduled for implementation in the autumn of 2013. This is part of the Armed Forces’ joint integrated management system for management and control of personnel, materiel and economy functions. The aim of the HRM project is to improve the Armed Forces’ ability to carry out good, modern management and control of its human resources while at the same time improving efficiencies to achieve savings.

The project has four performance goals:

  1. Management and control The area of personnel and competency shall have much clearer integration into the total management and control of the Armed Forces.

  2. Recruitment The Armed Forces shall develop a much broader basis for the recruitment of new employees in an efficient manner, whether new recruits to the Armed Forces, in-house recruitment whereby employees change jobs or re-recruitment of former employees.

  3. Career and talent development The Armed Forces shall improve their competency management for the individual employee. This requires a more clearly defined link between the Armed Forces' requirements and the competency, potential and ambitions of the individual employee.

  4. Personnel management The Armed Forces aim to improve the efficiency of personnel and competency management. This requires an increased level of electronic procedures, improved data bases for control and more rapid access to relevant control information.

Project 2813 shall help further develop and modernise the HR processes utilised by the Armed Forces. Initially, results will be generated by uniform processes and improved data quality.

The systematic and continuous development of managers and employees is a decisive factor for sustaining and further developing competency. Central elements in the process of employee development are performance goals, development goals and career goals for individuals, viewed in relation to the organisation’s competency requirements and gaps in competency. Employee development requires much more than courses and education. It involves a much higher degree of guidance, sparring and feedback on a day to day basis during work.

2.4 Sharing knowledge and experiential learning

Organisations with a focus on learning share competency. Employees are responsible for acquiring competency in line with the needs of the organisation and are also responsible for sharing and making their competency available to others.

Systems are required to ensure that the competencies held by individual employees are of the greatest benefit possible to the organisation as a whole. In addition to systematic measures to generate and develop competency for individuals, systems are also required to procure, evaluate, organise, quality assure and provide competency, knowledge and experience throughout the organisation and between different organisations. It is also important to develop a culture for sharing knowledge.

The defence sector is made up of organisations which are considerable differences in terms of activities, practice and deliveries. The defence sector’s core tasks, such as that of the Armed Forces to provide operative capabilities, are complex and at times require extremely rapid decision-making, a high degree of expertise and which may represent a risk to life and health or the loss of substantial values. Other tasks may be less demanding, involving staff functions and supporting the core tasks. Tasks which imply a risk to life and health – such as wartime operations, flying and sailing – have generated extremely constructive and positive methods of sharing experience and best-practice and developing expertise. The same level of systematised processes must also be developed for other functions.

Both managers and their employees are responsible for taking part in and contributing to quality on a daily basis in order to further develop expertise. New expertise is triggered at the meeting point between different perspectives. Responsibility lies particularly on managers to contribute towards a practice which can enhance local experiential learning.

Differences generate new knowledge. Certain agencies within the defence sector are relatively similar in terms of their employees. They have been selected on the same basis, attended the same schools and work with the same tasks. Such environments may be prone to stagnation and it is therefore important to try to challenge existing attitudes. This is made possible by ensuring diversity among the employees, a suitable rotation which provides a mix of personnel with varying length of service and via cooperation with other similar groups in Norway or abroad.

Textbox 2.5 Management and employee development within the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency

Active development of competency and management is essential in the management of the total property, building and construction interests of the defence sector. The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency strives for a management and organisational culture which is open to change and which can actively meet new requirements and development trends. This applies in particular to new opportunities and challenges related to the future base for recruitment which will feature existing employees who want to stay on at work past normal retirement age, new requirements from the next generation of employees and an increase in cultural diversity. Increased diversity and new competency shall form the basis for the exploitation of a significant increase in technological applications at work.

Figure 2.2 

Figure 2.2

Photo: The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency

The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency abides by the framework laid down for proper public management. Full compliance with framework conditions is required in order to build trust among owners, customers and society at large. Proper management primarily implies a responsibility for management, and the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency shall base their approach to this issue on a management platform which features common management principles. The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency will make active efforts towards the further development of systems, competency and a culture which supports and stimulates proper management. Full compliance with framework conditions forms the basis for innovation.

The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency underlines competency as the most important instrument in the short and long term for the development of future property systems. The Agency’s competency model emphasises equal career paths within management and the different professions represented. A learning portal has been established to organise and administer learning initiatives which have a common basis.

The Agency also makes use of a specially designed HR tool to ensure comprehensive and systematic follow-up of employees. This supports the processes required for competency management and employee follow-up. Employee follow-up is all about facilitating the workplace so that the individual employee is able to succeed on a daily basis and live up to the expectations of both the customer and the organisation. In practice, this requires systematic processes for carrying out performance appraisals, including a review of roles and job descriptions with defined competency requirements, and self-evaluation in relation to the management and employee principles laid down for the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency. The performance appraisal is summarised in targets for learning and development and in working targets, which in turn form the basis for an individual development plan. The fact that all this information is jointly collated allows for a much higher degree of continuity and follow-up of employees, irrespective of any changes in management.

The tool also forms the basis for a description of the total competency within the Agency, in the form of registered CVs. Moreover, the comprehensive and systematic use of the tool will help identify any gaps in competency at both agency and organisational level.

Figure 2.3 A deck of cards showing a range of ethical dilemmas

Figure 2.3 A deck of cards showing a range of ethical dilemmas

Photo: Media centre for the Norwegian Armed Forces/Torgeir Haugaard

2.5 Management and collaboration

Managers are responsible for exploiting the competency of employees and facilitating development of competency. It is increasingly important to select and evaluate managers based on their ability to further develop employees and help ensure the organisation has the necessary competency for both present and future operations. Managers must facilitate innovation by encouraging employees to discuss and exchange opinions instead of judging and instructing. When managers focus on facilitating discussions between employees with varying experience and opinions, it becomes possible to exploit the different perspectives involved and to build upon each other’s expertise in order to further develop and process different approaches. Managers are responsible for mobilising and allowing existing competency which is not fully exploited and for paving the way for efficient work and cooperation.

Textbox 2.6 Attitudes, ethics and management

A continual focus on attitudes, ethics and management is absolutely essential if the defence sector is to sustain legitimacy, confidence and trustworthiness among civilian society. The defence sector shall continue to grow and develop as a value-based and learning organisation, with an organisational culture which has integrity, openness and a high ethical standard.

Managers and employees shall at all times be fully equipped to make the right decisions so that the way in which tasks are performed contributes towards sustaining trustworthiness either during military operations, research, when in contact and cooperating with businesses and other private and public bodies and on a daily basis. Managers are particularly responsible for ensuring compliance with standards and that the organisation is structured to allow for such compliance. Managers must be good role models and understand their role as culture bearers. The practical process of working with organisational culture is lengthy, labour intensive and will never reach a conclusion. This is because the society of which we are part, the conditions under which we operate and the challenges we face in terms of ethics and attitudes are constantly in movement.

Plans of action for attitudes, ethics and management were launched in 2006 and revised in 2009. The different agencies (the Armed Forces, the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency, the Norwegian National Security Authority and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment) in addition to the Ministry of Defence, are responsible for developing own measures within the four following target areas:

  • Development of expertise and competency

    All managers and employees shall have sufficient knowledge and competency required to meet ethical challenges.

  • Development of cultures

    All managers and employees shall make active contributions towards developing a positive organisational culture within their place of work.

  • Systems and structural tools

    The agencies and the Ministry of Defence shall make use of and develop structural tools and shall integrate attitudes, ethics and management into existing systems for management, organisational development and control.

  • Social responsibility

    The agencies and the Ministry of Defence shall be aware of their social responsibility and shall maintain an active and responsible role within society.

Managers and employees shall be assessed as to how they contribute towards the results achieved by others, and not just their own results. Helping others to develop expertise and allowing them to achieve their goals and thereby the goals of the organisation in both the long and short term is therefore an equally important performance indicator as a person’s own achievements.

Employees are responsible for contributing with their competencies not just when requested to do so but on their own initiative. This responsibility also includes active involvement in developing the competencies of colleagues and the organisation as a whole, and for taking own competencies further.

A more composite, complex organisation, continually adapting to changing surroundings, requires a greater focus on individual factors which have to be in conformity and perpetual; for example, a clear and conform approach to the organisation’s targets and ethical standards is required. Substantial efforts have been invested into work on attitudes, ethics and management within the defence sector since 2006, with a number of important initiatives implemented. A committee on ethics has been set up for the defence sector. This committee is charged with developing the ethical management of human and material values, and helps the defence sector grow into a learning organisation. The committee on ethics shall evaluate ethical problems related to management, support functions and operative service. The different organisations within the defence sector shall continue to focus on awareness of ethics and reflection at work, during operations and during education. This shall make its mark on the management and organisational culture of the defence sector.

Textbox 2.7 Report from the 22 July Commission

“The Commission’s most important recommendation is that leaders at all levels of the administration work systematically to strengthen their own and their organisations’ fundamental attitudes and culture in respect of

  • the acknowledgement of risk

  • implementation capacity

  • interaction

  • ICT utilisation, and

  • result-oriented leadership.”

Source Official Norwegian Report 2012 14

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