What are Competencies?


Competencies are the knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, and skills that enable a person to perform a task successfully or efficiently. These fundamental characteristics contribute to a person's ability to excel in a particular role or function within an organization.

Skills vs. Competencies - What is the difference? 

Skills are learned and applied abilities that enable a person to use knowledge effectively in execution or performance. They can be specific and measurable, such as computer programming or project management. Competencies, on the other hand, encompass a broader range of behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge and are therefore more comprehensive but less flexible and measurable than skills. Both skills and competencies relate to how work is performed, but they have different emphases and applications. Skills are practical and applicable to tasks, projects, and roles and can be easily transferred between jobs and projects. In contrast, competencies are more value-based, company- or project-specific, and often linked to corporate culture.

Advantages - Use of competencies

  • Comprehensive understanding: Competencies provide a holistic view of a person's capabilities, including knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, which can be valuable for specific tasks that require a broader range of skills.
  • Alignment with company values: Because competencies are tailored to a company's specific needs and culture, they align employee behaviors and actions with the company's values and goals.
  • Long-term development: Competencies aim to develop individuals' potential to perform better in the long term, promoting continuous growth and development.

Disadvantages - Use of competencies

  • Complexity: competency models can be very large and complex, making them difficult to manage and measure accurately.
  • Rigidity: Competencies can take a long time to acquire and may not be flexible enough to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment.
  • Non-transferable: Competencies are often tied to specific roles or functions, which limits their transferability to other areas of an organization.

In summary, whether a company chooses competencies or skills depends on the use case. Competencies provide a comprehensive view of an individual's potential, but can be difficult to measure and maintain. In contrast, skills offer a more flexible and transferable approach that is easier to track and adapt to specific tasks. Companies therefore tend to choose a hybrid approach, combining competencies and skills to support workforce development and growth. Ultimately, it's about effectively assessing employees, identifying opportunities for improvement, and providing the right learning opportunities to keep the workforce engaged and aligned with the company's goals.

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