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How to Manage Better with Competencies

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Can we REALLY manage better with Competencies? Does managing competencies REALLY make THAT much difference to improving performance?

What are Competencies?

In “HR parlance”, the term “competency” is generally limited to mean “Behaviours”. This is not so in “our” parlance.

According to the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development), competencies are areas of personal capability that enable people to perform successfully in their jobs by achieving outcomes more effectively. A competency can be knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, or personal characteristics – or a combination of all. When companies explicitly define the competencies they need, and also provide the tools for assessing those competencies in their employees, then they can more easily and objectively manage their human capital – their “assets”.

Specifically, Competencies support the various components of Human Capital Management in the following ways:

  • Workforce Planning: Competencies help to understand the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to achieve corporate goals and those available within the organisation and, specifically, those that need to be sourced or developed.
  • Sourcing and Selection: Competencies help set the right expectations for each position, and ensure that recruitment efforts are more effective and successful.
  • Skills Audit: Competencies form the foundation for effective and objective Skills Audits.
  • Learning Management: To improve competencies to meet performance, career development, or succession goals, employees engage in learning competency activities that are tied to those goals.
  • Succession Planning: Managers who seek candidates for succession of a position can compare the competency requirements of that position, and select candidates who meet or come closest to meeting those requirements.
  • Leadership Development: Leadership development programs can be focussed on the exact skills, knowledge, and behaviours needed for solid leadership in the organisation.
  • Career Management: As employees map out their future goals and desired positions, they can work at developing the specific competencies required to achieve them.
  • Performance Management: Competencies set the level of knowledge, the skills, and the types of behaviors expected from the employee for effective performance in each position.
  • Reward Management: Helps managers perform reward planning for their organizations. Many times, bonuses and merit increases can be tied directly to individual competency ratings.

Benefits of Competencies

  • They describe the behaviors, knowledge, and skills required for exceptional performance for any particular job.
  • As a result, individuals and their managers can evaluate performance against an observable standard.
  • Employees and managers can observe clear strengths and developmental areas and target appropriate actions.
  • Career paths can be clearly defined that describe observable behaviours for a wide variety of jobs.
  • The identification of top talent is enhanced due to the precise ability to evaluate specific competencies during the selection process.