When we talk about competencies, we talk about the different combinations and permutations of various observable and measurable skills, knowledge, individual attributes and abilities that contribute towards a better and enhanced performance and eventually culminates in the success of an organization.
Simply put, competencies are the elements that a worker employs in the course of performing his or her duties in an organization. They are the ways an employee behaves on a job.
The several components of competencies can be defined thus:
Skills: A skill is defined by the Merriam Webster’s dictionary as “knowledge gained by actually doing or living through something” or “subtle or imaginative ability in inventing, devising, or executing something.”
A skill, therefore, is something that you develop over the course of time through learning (specialized training) and practicing of what you learned.
Skills are mostly combinations of both mental and physical proficiency although one usually outweighs the other. The execution of these acquired skills then subsequently lead to a successful and optimum performance.
Ability: Ability is the skill to accomplish something. An employee’s ability is their power or aptitude to carry out a physical, mental or legal action that is related to their profession or trade. It is the skill that they possess which puts them in a position to accomplish and execute a particular project.
For example, somebody skilled in the writing of computer software has the ability to develop an application to solve an issue while another person trained in civil engineering has the ability to construct a bridge.
Many organizations are quite adept when it comes to the measurement of their employee’s skill levels, the results they get as well as their knowledge of their field, they are however negligent in the recognition of their abilities especially when those abilities lie outside of the employee’s job designation.
Personal attributes: Attributes are characteristics and qualities that are peculiar to an individual. They are a reflection of the individual’s character and are acquired over time through the individual’s different experiences, attributes include the ability to withstand pressure, ability to manage time etc.
Knowledge: This is information, understanding, principles, and skill acquired either through formal education or through experience.
For an organization to be successful, there has to be a proper and efficient application of one’s knowledge when the need arises. There also has to be an interflow and exchange of knowledge and information amongst the employees of that organization.
Developing competencies that enhance individual and organizational performance
Job knowledge: This is a demonstration of the depth of knowledge an employee has about his or her field. This competency should be encouraged and enhanced in employees as it translates to increased productivity and growth in the organization.
Seminars and training should be organized that will further an employee’s knowledge in his or her field. Sponsorship of professional training can also be done by the organization for their employees in a position of strategic and managerial importance as a way of enhancing their mastery of this particular competency.
Teamwork: This competency demonstrates an ability to work in a group cooperatively and effectively without hassles or dissent in the pursuance of a common goal and/or objective. It involves the development and building of a group identity on the foundations of trust, commitment, and mutual respect.
This skill can be enhanced by engendering trust in the organization through openness, projects should also be organized that puts people in groups in order to solve a particular problem. This is as a means of building team spirit and camaraderie among employees of the organization.
Time management: This is a skill that must be developed by every employee in an organization, it cuts across all levels from the management and leadership of that organization to the rank and file employees.
Time management is the ability of an employee to manage his or her time as well as that of the other employees. A good management of time requires self-discipline, a good control of interruptions that might occur, being time effective and being time efficient.
This competency can be developed by organizing seminars and training that will teach employees the importance of managing time, recognition should also be given to employees who properly manage their time, this serves as an encouragement for them as individuals. It also serves to showcase them before their fellow employees who can then approach in order to learn from them.
Communication skills: Employees in positions of management and supervision in an organization should be able to communicate information effectively to the other employees whether in written form or orally.
Whatever information is being passed should be brief and concise, it should also be clear and well structured so that the information that is being passed across is done effectively. Characteristics of good communication skills are:
- The ability to break down physical, psychological and semantic barriers involved in communication.
- The ability to stick to the point that is being made without digressing.
- The ability to maintain an atmosphere of symbiotic trust and benefit.
- Effective persuasion skills.
This particular competency can be enhanced by organizing functions such as company picnics, dinners and the likes where employees of the company get to interact with each other and develop interpersonal skills. Training and seminars should also be organized by the HR department on how to communicate effectively.
Identification of problems and proffering of a solution: Another competency that is absolutely essential to the success of an organization. It is a competency that is needed by every employee in an organization be it at the management level or otherwise.
It is the ability to identify impediments to the achievement of goals and objectives and being able to provide a solution through the application of certain processes that will result in the reduction or complete elimination of said impediments.
The skills necessary for this is the ability to recognize symptoms, be able to carry out investigations and assessment the cause of the symptoms and finally, the ability to plot a decision matrix and use that information to choose the best option available for the elimination of the problem.
Emotional balance: Every employee of an organization has to be emotionally balanced if that organization is to progress. A whole lot of organizations in the race to make profit forget that their employees are humans no matter how professional they seem. They are also humans with human attributes, human needs, and human flaws.
And in order for an organization to grow, its employees must grow. Emotional balance is one of the areas in which employee growth must be ensured.
Employees should be made to feel like that are not alone, that they matter, that they are seen and are heard. Questions like, “How do you feel about your job? Are you having any issues at home or at work?” should be asked of the employees. This makes them feel valued and acknowledged which eventually results in increased productivity for them.
Mental Growth: Another important competency that must be developed in the individual is his or her intellect. The ability to reason intelligently must be constantly challenged and expanded.
Training and workshops should be about more than just their profession, it should also touch on other areas of their lives such as their personal finance and how to engender healthy relationships with their co-workers and in other aspects of their individual lives. Efforts should be made to encourage and support those activities that spark the employee’s interest.
Physical health: Being healthy is a competence as an unhealthy person has the ability to accomplish nothing and is, therefore, a liability. Efforts should be made to ensure the health of an organization’s employees.
One of the ways to accomplish this is by organizing classes and training on how they can maintain their health. Disciplines that contribute to the employee’s physical health can be taught them so that they can apply the principles to themselves.
Also, employees should be granted leave from work so that they can relax, take proper care of themselves and then return to their works revitalized and re-energized.
Accountability: Accountability is a competency that must be enhanced by an organization’s employees. This could be done via rewarding employees of that organization who exhibit integrity and show themselves as accountable.
Accountability involves acceptance of responsibilities for one’s actions and inactions. It involves standing up to your mistakes and acknowledging your errors. An accountable person does not look to put the blame of a failed venture on another. Accountability is about being committed to working in an effective, efficient and ethical manner.
Customer quality: This competency involves the anticipation, monitoring, and satisfaction of customers’ needs and wants. This shows that the organization is as much about making money as it is about satisfying customers. It shows a commitment to the provision of quality in the highest manner possible by the organization.
The views expressed on this page by the author it’s their own, not those of Best in Australia, and it shouldn’t be considered as advice.