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Competency Management In The Workplace

I am lucky to be a part of an amazing Lean In Group, and I came across a topic during one of our meetings recently that I want to explore in a little more depth. For those that don’t already know, Lean In exists for people to gather to share ideas and skills, and empower one another to grow professionally and personally. My circle meets monthly and we discuss a wide range of topics across all areas of work-life and personal life. In a recent meeting, we discussed the topic of giving and receiving feedback. This immediately became a lively conversation and developed into examining the concept of “competency management.”

Here’s a quick overview of the terms (I’ll be using a great article from Training as a guideline) before we go any further:

Competency: abilities, behaviors, knowledge, and skills that impact the success of employees and organizations.

Competency Management: the set of management practices that identify and optimize the skills and competencies required to deliver on an organization’s business strategy.

Managing Individual Competencies

In today’s labor market where talent is harder to find (let alone acquire) than in recent memory, optimizing and effectively managing individual competencies of a company’s current employees is a crucial factor in performance improvement on an organizational level.

As a group, we wanted to explore how competencies were being managed in our respective workplaces, so we posed the following questions to help us dive into the concept:

  • What do you do when your organization is not consistent in managing employees’ strengths?
  • Is someone on your team given different guidelines than others due to their gifts and weaknesses?

In response, one of our group members gave an example where a sales team was frustrated with the unbalance of tactical work that was distributed, as one colleague was not responsible for detailed paperwork where others were held accountable. Communication of this frustration was vocalized to key leadership and human capital, but this issue never seemed to get resolved. In this case, is the company managing key competencies for all employees? If not, how can everyone be held accountable and managed to their top abilities?

Another great example was about a company that administers extensive testing to applicants as they progress through the interview process. One notable candidate appeared to be very qualified for a certain position as they appeared to have all of the experience and skills that were required. However, they ended up testing poorly during the interview process and therefore did not get the job. The people who knew the candidate and were aware of their skills and experience were incredibly disappointed with the decision, as they believed this was a failure of competency management within their organization.

In just these two examples we can see how important effective competency management is to a workplace, and the effect it can have on employees if it comes up short. The question that I’d like to pose to my readers is: Does your company manage according to each individual’s skill set and build teams around competencies? I’d love to hear any feedback you have and start a conversation!


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