Competencies, Classification of Competencies, Measurement Methods

Competencies comprise the knowledge, skills, values and attributes demonstrated through behaviour that results in competent and superior performance. Competency describes what superior performers actually do on a job that produces superior results. Armed with this information, selection, retention, training, succession planning and performance management systems can be integrated and designed to attract, develop and retain top performers.

McClelland (1973, 1976), who is often credited with coining the term competency, defined it as a characteristic that underlies successful performance. Over the years, many writers, including key thinkers and leaders in the field, have defined and refined the word competency and related terms.

Zemke (1982) set out to ascertain the precise attributes of a competency and conducted a number of interviews with experts in the field. He determined from the interviews that there is no complete and total agreement on what is and is not a competency:

Competency, competencies, competency models, and competency-based training are Humpty Dumpty words meaning only what the definer wants them to mean.—The problem comes not from malice, stupidity or marketing avarice, but instead from some basic procedural and philosophical differences among those racing to define and develop the concept and to set the model for the way the rest of us will use competencies in our day-to-day training efforts.

Competency Measurement Methods

A competency may be demonstrated in many ways. One method of identifying the typical ways that competencies are demonstrated is to identify the behaviors or tangible results (outcomes) produced by their use in the context of the work performed. A behavior is an observable action that is taken to achieve results or that contributes to an accomplishment. Green (1999) defined behavior as an action that can be observed, described, and verified. Competencies could be measured by using behavioral indicators. A behavioral indicator is a statement of an action, or set of actions, that one would expect to observe when a person successfully uses a competency to perform work.

Classification of Competencies

Competencies can broadly be classifid into two categories – Basic and Professional Competencies.

Basic competencies are inherent in all individuals. Only their degree of existence would be differing. For example, problem solving is a competency that exists in every individual but in varying degrees.

Professional competencies are over and above the basic competencies, and are job related. For example, handling a sales call effectively is a competency that a sales personnel would be required to have.

Types of Basic Competencies

1. Intellectual Competencies : Those which determine the intellectual ability of a person.
2. Motivational Competencies : Those which determine the level of motivation in an individual.
3. Emotional Competencies : Those which determine an individual’s emotional quotient.
4. Social Competencies : Those that determine the level of social ability in a person.

It has been proved by various scholars that all individuals have competencies. Only the combination and degree of these competencies differ from individual to individual. Hence, organizations have to identify the critical basic competencies required for individual employees to deliver their best in their organization. The importance of mapping the competencies proves critical for organizational success.

Types of Professional Competencies

The professional competencies encompass the knowledge, experience and expertise gained by an individual employee.