What are competencies?
Competencies are the combination of observable and measurable knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal attributes that contribute to successful job performance. Competencies are the skills, knowledge, behaviors, and other attributes that you need to be successful in a specific role or profession. They empower an individual to be competent enough to perform a task or activity successfully on a given job.
They encompass the ability to conceptualize, apply, or analyze information in order to complete a task. Competencies are not just what you know, but also how you do things.
Competencies are measurable on-the-job behaviors that an organization wants to see in its workers or employees. They are important behavioral traits and abilities of its staff that enable an organization to meet its business objectives.
Types of Competencies
Competencies can be categorized into the following types
1. Cognitive competencies
This type of competency refers to the ability to think critically and solve problems. It includes analysis, judgment, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
2. Interpersonal competencies
This type of competency refers to the ability to interact with others effectively. It includes skills such as communication, team building, negotiation, and conflict resolution.
3. Technical competencies
Companies list relevant competencies while defining job requirements and recruiting, and for the retention and development of their staff. Depending on the job description, particular role, type, department, industry, and seniority required, an organization may be looking for a varied set of competencies.
4. Leadership Competencies
These are the skills required to lead a team or an organization towards its goals. It also refers to key skills of business acumen and the ability to make the right business decisions to meet the business goals of a specific organization. Examples of leadership competencies are visionary, strategic thinking, motivating, etc.
5. Functional Competencies
These are the skills required to perform a specific job function effectively. Functional Competencies for a Sales position may include product knowledge, market knowledge, etc.
6. Behavioral Competencies
These refer to the personal attributes or traits that an individual possesses that can contribute to their success on the job. They are also understood as core competencies. Examples of behavioral competencies are integrity, adaptability, flexibility, etc.
For example, when looking to hire a Digital Marketing Manager, an organization will include knowledge of Digital Marketing, Analytical thinking, Reporting skills, etc. in the job description.
While for a Customer Service Representative, an organization will look for Competencies such as excellent verbal communication, problem-solving skills, patience, etc. Thus, Competencies play an important role in both the hiring and development process of an organization.
Professional Competencies for Career Development
The competency model of an organization desires employees to incorporate a few professional competencies for their own development and superior performance to meet performance expectations. Some of those competencies are
1. Being observant
Competencies can be learned through experience and observing others. By being observant, you can learn about the required competencies for a certain job. Relationship therapists, trendwatchers, Bodyguards, etc have such competencies.
2. Taking the initiative
Competencies are not static and can be developed over time. If you see an opportunity to develop a certain competency, take the initiative and work on it. For example, entrepreneurs, activity leaders, etc have such competencies.
Competencies can be analyzed and developed using different tools and methods. Competency analysis often includes job analysis, task analysis, etc. Researchers, System Designers, detectives, etc acquire it.
The process entails weighing the options and making a decision. Examples include judges, Interim Managers, etc.
Competencies can be created through training, education, and development. Trainers, teachers, curriculum developers, etc create such competencies.
6. Planning and organizing
Competencies require planning and organizing to be developed effectively. Consultants, project managers, event planners, etc use such competencies.
A few roles and jobs require time and effort to develop. You need to be persistent in your efforts to develop a certain competency. For example, athletes, artists, etc have such competencies.
8. Responding flexibly
You need to be flexible in your approach while developing a competency. The process might require you to change your methods, tactics, etc. depending on the situation. Psychologists, counselors, etc use such competencies.
9. Performing under pressure
You need to be able to perform well under pressure to develop competency. This is often required in fast-paced and high-pressure environments. Doctors, surgeons, air traffic controllers, etc have such competencies.
10. Verbal communication
Competencies often require excellent verbal communication skills. Salespeople, customer service representatives, managers, etc use such competencies.
11. Written communication
Competencies also require excellent written communication skills. Technical writers, content writers, copywriters, etc use such competencies.
Competencies can be developed by helping others to develop their own. Mentors, coaches, leaders, etc use such competencies.
Competencies can be developed by networking with people who have the required competencies. This is often done to gain access to resources, knowledge, etc. Businesspeople, managers, etc use such competencies.
Competencies need to be monitored during the development process. This is done to ensure that the process is on track and that the desired outcomes are being achieved. Project managers, quality control managers, etc use such competencies.
Competencies can be developed by leading a team or group through the development process. This is often done by managers, team leaders, etc.
16. Autonomy and self-development
You need to be autonomous and self-motivated to develop competency. This is often required for roles that are not well-defined or structured. Entrepreneurs, freelancers, etc have such competencies.
17. Learning from mistakes
Competencies can be learned from mistakes. This is often done by trial and error. Scientists, engineers, etc use such competencies.
18. Critical thinking
Competencies require critical thinking to be developed effectively. This is often done by analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information. Researchers, analysts, etc use such competencies.
You need to be able to work effectively in a team to develop competency. This is often required in roles that require collaboration. Developers, designers, marketers, etc use such competencies.
20. Time management
Competencies require time management to be developed effectively. This is often done by setting priorities, deadlines, and schedules. Project managers, business owners, etc use such competencies.
Competencies often require a sense of responsibility. This is often required in roles that have an impact on others. Doctors, lawyers, etc have such competencies.
22. Commercial awareness
Being aware of the commercial aspects of the development process is also one of the key competencies. This is often required in roles that involve business decision-making.
23. Decision making
Having the ability to make decisions is also crucial. This is often done by considering the available options and choosing the most suitable one. Business owners, managers, etc use such competencies.
Difference between Job Description and Job Competencies
A job description is a list of the tasks, duties, and responsibilities that are associated with a particular job. A job competency is a set of skills, knowledge, and abilities that are required to perform a particular job.
Competencies are often grouped into categories such as technical competencies, interpersonal competencies, etc. Competencies are often used in job descriptions, performance evaluations, and training programs. Competencies can be created through training, education, and development. Trainers, teachers, curriculum developers, etc create such competencies.
The job description, also known as the JD, is a broad, general, and written description of a role or title’s nature, scope, and responsibilities. The job analysis has determined the job description or JD. It contains details of the activities to be completed by a hypothetical applicant for that position.
On the other hand, job competency is a component of today’s job descriptions. Hiring managers list a set of key qualities, talents, and behavioral characteristics they want to find in a candidate based on their role and position. These are known as job competencies. In a nutshell, we may define job competency as an important element that includes the technical skills, knowledge, or attitude needed to perform well in one’s career role. Let us examine how they differ with an example.
Competencies vs Skills
Let us understand the difference between competencies and skills on different parameters
- Competencies are value-based: They are based on the values of an organization.
- Competencies are rigid: They do not change with time.
- Competencies are culture-specific: They vary from one culture to another.
- Competencies are non-transferrable: They cannot be transferred from one person to another.
- Skills are task-based: They are based on the tasks to be performed.
- Skills are dynamic: They change with time.
- Skills are culture-neutral: They are the same in all cultures.
- Skills are transferrable: They can be transferred from one person to another.
Competencies can be understood as the language of behavior while on the other hand skills are the language of work.
Competencies are often required in roles that involve strategic thinking, while skills are often required in roles that involve operational tasks.
Competencies vs Qualities
- Competencies are observable: They can be observed through behavior.
- Competencies are measurable: They can be measured through tests and observations.
- Competencies are context-specific: They vary from one context to another.
- Competencies are culture-specific: They vary from one culture to another.
- Qualities are internal: They cannot be observed through behavior.
- Qualities are subjective: They cannot be measured through tests and observations.
- Qualities are context-independent: They are the same in all contexts.
- Qualities are culture-neutral: They are the same in all cultures.
Competencies can be understood as the language of behavior while on the other hand qualities are the language of personality. Competencies are often required in roles that involve strategic thinking, while qualities are often required in roles that involve operational tasks.
Some competencies that are common in job descriptions include-
List of 62 Common Competencies (Work Related)
- Tactical behavior
- Responding sensitively
- Communication skills (verbal)
- Communication skills (written)
- Group-oriented leadership
- Acting innovatively
- Problem analysis
- People-driven management
- Results-oriented way of working
- Situational awareness
- Attention to detail
- Understanding of the environment
- Independent learning
- Ability to learn
- Responding flexibly
- Financial awareness
- Stress resistance
- Showing initiative
- Conceptual thinking
- Organizational sensitivity
- Creative thinking
- Planning and organizing
- Monitoring progress
- Critical thinking
- Analytical skills
- Managing conflict
In conclusion, we may say that competencies are a combination of skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are required to perform well in a particular job or role. They are value-based, culture-specific, and non-transferrable.
Now, in the end, how would you like to be evaluated? On the basis of your Competencies, Skills, or Qualities?