Competency Model at Barker Foods Company

This paper examines whether a standardized competency model can be applied to an organization such as the fictitious Barker Foods. The case study established the foundation for the perception one was needed by the Human Resource (HR) director, Ann Baxter. Some of Barker’s executive leadership is resistant to the idea, while others fully supported the concept. In fact the CFO informed Baxter that any attempt to implement such a strategy would undermine the spirit of entrepreneurship the Baxter needs more of (Morrison, 2007).

The learnings of BUS669 and additional research will support why a competency model can effectively be applied to an organization such as Barker Foods, provided it is properly developed and implemented.

A competency model can exist at Barker Foods. In order for this to occur, several obstacles must be overcome to effectively implement a model which will support the growth the organization has experienced and maintain the necessary vision commensurate with the challenges ahead of it. One of these obstacles involves the mindset of multiple senior leaders, specifically the premise that a model will over define the capabilities a leader should possess, especially when the firm is facing various challenges in the market place.

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Many were of the opinion that such a model could negatively impact the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation and inhibit any flexibility that is necessary for grooming candidates within their units (Morrison, 2007). According to Morrison (2007), many senior executives wanted to avoid specific details. Their idea of a competency framework focused on values like “commitment” and “respect” not specific behaviors in those categories.

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According to Markus, Cooper-Thomas and Allpress (2005), behavioral repertories are part of the three main approaches to assessing competency. Different levels of jobs will obviously require various behaviors; however the common denominator is always in support of the organization’s goals; where they are headed and what the objectives are. Leaders understand they need to inspire others to see that vision and enable their colleagues to achieve the goals of the company. The methods in which they accomplish this task can vary, and is very often unique to an individual’s personality. It is exactly that diversity which presents a challenge to implementing a solid competency model at Barker, along with the dynamic nature of some of their businesses, and the commitment to past practices instead of acceptance of new business philosophies. Challenges should not be reason to dismiss the benefit of a competency model; they just need to be identified so the proper development and implementation of the models can occur. According to Mansfield (1996), identification of a common set of building block competencies is critical for model development.

Those building blocks need to define the leadership traits which support the vision of the leader and the direction that individual wants to take the organization. According to Hesselbein and Goldsmith (2006), great leadership that both serves and leads focuses on developing a clear sense of vision and a clear sense of where the enterprise is headed. Without a common set of building block characteristics, which a competency model can establish, that clear vision can be obstructed and the wrong paths can be taken. Mansfield (1996) suggests the following building block competencies to establish the foundation for interpersonal awareness, a competency skill that is not dependent on any particular job or situation, but is critical for the ability of a leader to notice, interpret and anticipate others concerns and feelings: Understands and knows the importance of others Knows what other individuals like and dislike

Understands the reasons underlying others’ behavior Notices what others are feeling, based on their speech and nonverbal behavior Anticipates how others will react to a situation Is aware of both the strengths and weaknesses of others Takes time to listen when others come with problems Acts to address the concerns of others. None of the attributes listed above are job specific and are necessary in any situation or leadership role to effectively lead and motivate others to follow that lead.

The Standard Competency Model competency model that is implemented at Barker Foods must be focused on identifying dimensions of performance applicable to many roles and situations but specifically on behaviors which are not unique to any specific role (Markus et al, 2005). Interpersonal awareness and appropriate social behaviors will foster a cohesive, productive environment, regardless of the position a person is in or the status of their organization.

As is frequently the case, breaking out of the past and eliminating outdated and improper mindsets is a significant challenge. A leader who possesses the social awareness to accomplish this hurdle will be better suited to effectively lead a group to see a goal come to fruition. Some of Barker’s senior leadership is resistive to implementing this competency model for reasons which should be challenged. The underlying qualities, specifically related to the interpersonal awareness are applicable to any situation, and while the specific skills may need to be tailored to the function, the foundation established by a competency model is beneficial for any role.

Personal competence encompasses the values such as commitment and respect, which is not specific to any one role, however according to Morrison (2007), the proponents of the model indicated that a willingness to learn and the ability to quickly integrate any new knowledge into emerging product development and marketing plans were critical for success. Incorporating these characteristics into the model will also allow for customization for role specific leaders. Some of the opposition by Barker’s leadership focused on the necessary skillsets their specific function required. While myopic in the overall view of the organization’s vision, some roles do need specific competencies. According to Mansfield (1996), while two different jobs may require the same The Standard Competency Model competency, it often needs to be demonstrated different ways. For example, as in Barker’s case, a sales manager may demonstrate initiative by developing a new incentive program for sales representatives.

However, the questionable behavior exhibited by Doug Lothian may have been avoided if a solid model was in place which established the foundations for complete self awareness and self regulation, which in itself encompasses self-control, trustworthiness and conscientious behavior (Competency Model, 2012). Conclusion Standardized practices can be in place, but leaders’ actions have to be authentic and the only way to accomplish this is to act in accordance with their own value system and not be forced to conform to a precise set of rules applied across a large variety of situations.

A competency model that lays the foundation for a leader’s authenticity, yet offers the flexibility to accommodate specific roles, is beneficial for Barker Foods, or any company when faced with a challenging market environment, the hold of the past constraining forward progress, and the few minority opinions as seen in Barkers leadership who are resistive to such a model. Model development cannot be taken lightly, or it will fail before it is implemented. A successful model building effort requires analytical thinking by cross-functional staff to identify logical links among jobs task, performance outcome criteria and company requirements (Mansfield, 1996) while embedding the authenticity requirements which span all functional roles.


  1. ses/1/BUS669.901285009801/content/_945378_1/embedded/Competancy%20Mo dels.pdf.
  2. HesselBein, F. & Goldsmith, M. (2006). The leader of the future 2. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  3. Markus, L. H., Cooper-Thomas, H. D., & Allpress, K. N. (2005). Confounded by Competencies? An Evaluation of the Evolution and Use of Competency Models. New Zealand Journal Of Psychology, 34(2), 117-126.
  4. Morrison, M., (2007). The Very Model of a Modern Senior Manager. Harvard Business Review, 85(1), 27-39.
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Competency Model at Barker Foods Company. (2016, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Competency Model at Barker Foods Company
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