An academician’s viewpoint The competency framework
Dr. Aashiesh Tavkarr
Dr. Aashiesh Tavkarr is an Educator, Motivational speaker and a Columnist among other esteemed designations held.He is the former HOD (IB) in MITCON B school and an approved professor with the Canterbury University in their MBA (HR) program.Apart from his contribu- tion to youngminds in various B schools andManagement colleges,Dr.Tavkarr is anauthority onNLPandhaswrittenonNLP,HR,ManagementandChangeManagementextensively.
The world is in the grip of what is termed as a global slowdown or as some know it - recession. Organizations today are struggling to keep themselves afloat. In this uncertain environment, Human Resource has become a major issue. Today organizations don’t have the time and money to spend on training the manpower - the challenging task before organizations is to get the right person for the right job. So the million dollar question is “How do I know that this person is the right person?”This is where new techniques have come to the rescue of today’s HR managers/recruiters. One of them is Competency Framework and Assessment Centres. So let us try and understand competency based framework. Before we move further, let me clarify that this is an attempt to explain competency mapping through a purely theoretical and academic perspective. It is my endeavour to make people familiar with this model conceptually. The word competency is used in everyday life to refer to the person’s ability or capacity to be successful in a particular task. The competency approach focuses on what the person can do rather than what the person knows. A competency is observable behaviour not espoused behaviour. Some of the major contributors to the science of assessment centres and competency mapping define competency as follows: Jacob defines Competency as “An observable skill or ability to complete a managerial task successfully.” McClelland defines Competency as “An underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to criterion reference effective and/or superior performance in a job or a situation.” Hogg defines Competency as“Characteristics of a manager that lead to demonstration of skills and abilities, which result in effective performance within occupational areas. Competency also embodies that capacity to transfer skills and abilities from one area to another.” Let us scrutinize McClelland’s definition: A) “Underlying Characteristic” - Competencies are underlying characteristics of people and indicate“ways of behaving or thinking, generalizing across situations, and enduring for a reasonable period of time”. The Competencies have five characteristics, namely: 1) Motives (things a person consistently thinks about or wants that cause action, motives, drive, direct and select behaviour towards certain actions) - For example, achievement motivation - people consistently set challenging goals for themselves, take responsibility for accomplishing them and use feedback to do better. 2) Traits (physical characteristics and consistent responses to situations) - Good eyesight is a physical trait of a pilot. Emotional self control and initiative are more complex consistent responses to situations. 3) Self Concept (a person’s altitude, value or self image) - A person’s values are reactive or respondent motives that predict what a person would do in the short run. For example, a person who values being a leader would be more likely to exhibit leadership behaviour. 4) Knowledge (information a person has in a specific work area) - For example, an accountant's knowledge of various accounting procedures. 5) Skill (the ability to perform certain mental or physical tasks) - For example, mental competency includes analytical thinking. The ability to establish cause-effect relationship. The type or level of competency has significance in human resource planning. A skill or knowledge can be easily developed.Training is the most cost effective way to nurture these competencies.Motives, self concepts and traits are more difficult to train and develop. All these need to be a part of the selection process. B) “Causal Relationship” - Motives, traits and self-concept predict skill, behaviour and action that in turn predict job performance outcomes. Motive / Trait >> Behaviour >> Outcome. Competencies always include an intent, which is the motive or trait force, that directs action towards an outcome. Behaviour without intent does not form a competency. Behaviour can include thoughts and feelings, where they precede and/or succeed action. C) “Criterion Referenced” - This is the most important part of the definition of competency. A characteristic of an individual is not a competency unless it predicts something meaningful in the real world.The criterion most frequently used in competency studies is 'superior performance'.Thus, the characteristic is a competency if it can predict 'superior' or effective performance. Once an organization/HR/recruiter understands that this framework is very powerful in getting you the right kind of people for the job, the next step is to set up an assessment centre before you get into the process of recruitment.This process is not only to be done while talking to the person on board but also when promoting the person or finding out talent within the organization for putting people on the fast track programs. It is McClelland’s definition that has found world wide acceptance among the practitioners for various reasons. Hence let us look at it in greater detail.
I am sure this attempt of mine has helped you understand the basics of what goes into a Competency Based Framework.
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