Examples of Competencies

In practice, managers often write paragraph length competencies for jobs and organize these into two or three clusters. For example, the job’s required competencies might include general competencies (such as reading, writing, and mathematical reasoning), leadership competencies (such as leadership, strategic thinking, and teaching others), and technical competencies (which focus on the specific technical competencies required for specific types of jobs and /or occupations).

So, some technical competencies for the job of systems engineer might include the following:

1) Design complex software applications, establish protocols, and create prototypes
2) Establish the necessary platform requirements to efficiently and completely coordinate data transfer.
3) Prepare comprehensive and complete documentation including specifications, flow diagrams, process patrols and budgets.

Similarly, for a corporate treasurer, technical competencies might include:

1) Formulate trade recommendations, by studying several computer models for currency trends, and using various quantitative techniques to determine the financial impact of certain financial trades.
2) Recommend specific trades and when to make them.
3) Present recommendations and persuade others to follow the recommended course of action. Note that exhibiting this competency presumes the treasurer has certain knowledge and skills that one could measure.

O*NET lists various skills within six skill groups (accessible at http://online.onetcenter.org/skills/). A sampling includes Mathematics – using mathematics to solve problems, Speaking – talking to others to convey information effectively, Complex problem solving identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions and negotiations bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Comparing Traditional Versus Competency based Job Analysis:

In practice, if you pick up almost any job description today, you’ll probably find that some of job’s listed duties and responsibilities are competency based, while most are not. For example, consider the typical duties you might find in a marketing manager’s job description. Which of the duties he would complete the phrase, In order to perform this job competently, the employee should be able to…

Some familiar duties and responsibilities would easily fit these requirements. For example, works with writers and artists and overseas copywriting, design, layout, and production of promotional materials is not particularly measurable. How could you measure the extent to which the employee works with writer and artists or overseas copywriting, design, and layout? Put another way, if you to devise a training program for this job’s incumbent how would you determine whether you’d adequately trained the person to work with writers and artists? In fact, what sort of training would that duty and responsibility even imply? It’s not clear at all.

On the other hand, some of the job’s typical duties and responsibilities are more easily expressed as competencies. For example, we could easily complete the phrase, to perform this job competently, the employee should be able to conduct marketing surveys on current and new product concepts prepare marketing activity reports; and develop and execute marketing plans and programs.

How to write job competencies based job descriptions:

Defining the job’s competencies and writing them up involves a process that is similar in most respects to traditional job analysis, In other words, the manager will interview job incumbents and their supervisors, ask open ended questions regarding job responsibilities and activities, and perhaps identify critical incidents that pinpoint success on the job. There are also off the shelf competencies databanks. One is that of the Department of Labor’s Office of Personnel Management (see www.opm.gov).

An Example: BP’s Matrices:

In practice, developing competency based job descriptions often comes down to listing the specific skills the job requires. This simple method then links in with the employer’s pay plan. For instance: The employee’s pay goes up every time he or she shows by testing that that skill is mastered.

In one firm – British Petroleum’s exploration division – the need for more efficient, flexible, faller organizations and empowered employees prompted management to replace job descriptions with matrices listing skills and skill levels. Senior managers wanted to shift employees’ attention from a job descriptions / that’s not my job mentality to open that would motivate them to obtain the new skills and competencies they needed to accomplish their broader responsibilities.