Competency……..What does it mean?

Several approaches exist for determining competencies and various schools of thought exist around what constitutes a competency. A simple definition of a competency might be “An underlying behavioural characteristic of a person which results in effective or superior performance on the job.”

What then is competency profiling? (Or modelling) A definition might be: “Competency profiling is a technique for determining the unique set of competencies associated with effectiveness in a particular job”. It is used to help identify the abilities, skills and other personal characteristics that are needed for superior performance in a particular job within an organisation.

Several approaches exist and the fact that there are differences of opinion and little agreement in this field tends to reflect three major influences:

· The concept’s relative newness and the large expansion in this practice over the past ten years.

· A belief by some organisations that their specific competency profiling method or their list of competencies gives them some competitive advantage.

· From country to country different beliefs, business practices and standards have evolved about what constitutes competencies and how they should be used. Rather than go into any great depth, there is general agreement that there are a number of competencies which have often been associated with superior performance. For any given job however, only some of these competencies will be very important to superior performance. Organisations need to clearly identify what competencies are important to their own situation.

Some of the key competencies include:

(This list is by no means exhaustive and is in no order of importance)

· Achievement orientation

· Initiative

· Concern for order

· Use of concepts

· Analytical thinking

· Pattern recognition

· Self confidence

· Self control

· Tenacity

· Technical expertise

· Concern for personal impact ( Self awareness)

· Organisational awareness

· Interpersonal sensitivity

· Direct persuasion

· Use of influencing strategies

· Developing others

· Directing others

· Group management

· Relationship building

· Flexibility

Medium and large organisations, particularly corporates, are beginning to see the benefits of competency profiling and those that have adopted competency profiling approaches claim the following advantages and benefits:

· It provies a framework for integrating all HR systems (i.e. Recruitment, Learning and development and Talent management).

· Consistency and equity in human resource management practices.

· Clearer guidelines for recruitment and selection.

· Training and development has both an individual and organisational/business

· Performance management is business orientated.

· Much of the guesswork is removed from career and succession planning.

· It meets the challenges of the future.

· It is a flexible tool and is easily adapted to the changes and challenges an organisation has to fact. It also helps to change or maintain an appropriate organisational culture allowing it to adapt to meet both its current and future challenges.

Like most management disciplines, there is nothing really new in the concept. However, like any management tool, if implemented correctly, for the right reasons and used effectively by identifying the relative competencies for a role or roles in your business and by establishing an appropriate competency profiling or modelling framework, it can assist organisations to become more adaptable, efficient and effective.

Barry T Knight

YSKER P.O. Box 27 Christchurch, New Zealand, Phone: +64 21 999 799
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