Wednesday 6 July 2011

What are Competencies?

Competencies in various forms have been in existence from the early 1960s and are at the moment enjoying a rediscovery. In and of themselves they are quite a simple concept. A competency is the knowledge, skills and abilities required to be successful in a job. Unfortunately, despite this relatively simple definition and obvious requirement for job success, the application of these ideas to all aspects of the management of people is difficult to grasp by both line trained managers and human resource personnel.

Competencies are related to the job, not the person. It is the requirements for the job that must be determined first. It is important to note that while we speak of a job, this is for the convenience of writing and not implementation. By this I mean that the definition applies to a group of jobs or a whole range of jobs. For example, airline pilots regardless of what aircraft they fly or what airline they fly for have similar job related knowledge, skills and abilities that are required to be successful in that job. Therefore for certain competencies, once determined, they can be applied to all pilots. An exaggerated example of this might be that an analysis determines that pilots must not be colour blind. Therefore, no pilot applicant that is colour blind can be hired. To ensure that this is universally applied there is means to determine that condition through recognized tests.

This post is based on content from Competencies: The Core of Human Resource Management, by Suzanne Simpson.

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