Aug 142012

Do you really know what your employee brings to the workplace?  Oh, you may know that they have the knowledge and skills needed to get the job done in an effective and efficient manner.  But, do you know the “soft” skills or attributes they bring that could be just as important as the “hard” skills they offer.

What are competencies?  They could be a personal trait or an observable aspect of performance.  Competencies represent the behavioral, technical, and motivational requirements for successful performance in a given role or job.  A competency is usually defined as a grouping of related:

  • Behaviors
  • Activities
  • Types of knowledge
  • Technical skills, or
  • Motivations

So, why are competencies important?  They can give us a better understanding of why an individual may or may not do as well on a project or why or why not objectives are not met.  They provide a basis for coaching the employee on how to improve performance.  The more an employer understands the personal strengths and motivation of their employees, the better “fit” there is in the job.  Identifying the needed competencies make recruiting easier and can help in coaching and training employees.

The hard skills and knowledge can be fairly easy to assess and identify and can be developed.  Attitude and personal characteristics are harder to identify or develop, but are equally important in demonstrating a needed competency in a position.  For example, functional requirements might be identified as the technical needs – the things that are specific to a particular job.  Behavioral are the soft skill requirements that make a person successful in their position.

If you think of your “star” employee, what competencies have they brought to the job that makes them more successful than another person in the same position?  What do they do differently that makes them special?  What competencies do they have that can be seen, heard, or documented by colleagues and clients?  Those are the competencies you might want to look for in other candidates or employees.

I believe there are five major competencies that are important in the workplace and include several sub-categories:

1.  Intellectual

    • Analytical
    • Creative
    • Problem Solving
    • Project Management
    • Technical

2.  Interpersonal

  • Customer Service
  • Communication

i.     Oral

ii.     Written

  •  Teamwork

3.  Leadership

  • Visionary
  • Change management
  • Delegation
  • Leading others
  • Managing and/or developing others

4.  Organization

  • Business Acumen
  • Cost Consciousness
  • Diversity
  • Ethics
  • Organizational Support
  • Strategic Thinking

5.  Self-Management

  • Judgment
  • Motivation
  • Planning/Organizing
  • Professionalism
  • Dependability
  • Initiative
  • Innovative

I am sure there are many more that you could list.  The bottom line is, if we have a better understanding of the competencies needed for a position or brought to us by an individual, we have a better chance of making the job successful and will help you identify the type of person you want on your team.  Finding that special person makes the work easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful.

Remember, we should hire for competencies and can train for skills.

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