In order to perform well in any job, an individual needs possess all necessary skill set and knowledge, as well as the personal attributes. Today’s Individuals have become fiercely competitive to succeed in their chosen fields, and are equipping themselves with the right attitude, knowledge, and skills. Understanding this reality will create awareness that to stay competitive you must have an edge over the others. For this reason, you need to develop certain competencies.
Many often confuse competence and competency. Although used interchangeably, they are nonetheless different from each other. Competence is defined as the requirements and standards that have been achieved, while competency would refer to the characteristic or behavior of a person needed to perform it. In essence, competence would answer the question “What is achieved?” whereas competency would answer the question “How is it achieved?”
Definitions of Competency
The definitions of competency are quite misleading because, as previously mentioned, it has been confused with competence. Below are the more accurate and correct meanings.
- Competency is a characteristic of an individual.
- Competency, for some aspects, is observable; a demonstration of abilities and skills.
- Competency is the “cause” and effective performance is the “effect”. A person who has a certain competency performs better than one who has not.
- Competency is transferable and can be used not only in one area, but in other areas as well. No matter what the task at hand is, a person is able to use his competencies to achieve given objectives.
Competency, in a broader sense, can enable a person to superiorly perform in his job. It is these competencies that make a person more successful than others because he is able to do better than the rest in any given task; thus, resulting in better job performance and increased productivity.
The Evolution of Competency
At the early part of the 20th century, complex skills were needed for certain jobs but these skills were taught and developed through years of training. However, the emergence of Henry Ford’s and Frederick Taylor’s scientific management provided little value to the employees and instead shifted focus on technology. When the second World War broke, a new work culture was introduced, which revolved on the idea that only one person needed to be in command and put in control, and the group should do nothing but obey. Thus, at that time, training and development was focused only on those who were in command.
It was not until the 1960s that new interest on competencies and human performance fueled the business world. The elimination of traditional practices took place little by little, and competency concepts started to evolve into various business practices.
It was a long journey from the command and control practices then shifting focus on employee performance. It took a lot of tests and analysis, as more and more methods were developed but in the end, competency frameworks and models were created, and these are continuously used even today.
Characteristics of Competency
There are five known characteristics of competency which are: intentions, attributes, self-image, knowledge, and skills.
- Intentions: These would refer to the things that an individual desires or often thinks about. Because intentions are a person’s wants and needs. Intentions produce actions and are the driving factors that trigger a certain behavior in order to make them a reality.
- Attributes: These are a person’s characteristics or traits that are consistently evident in the way he responds to a situation.
- Self-Image: This is how a person perceives himself to be. His values and attitudes are always relevant to his concept of self.
- Knowledge: A visible and surface characteristic of a person that would refer to the information he has on a certain area or field.
- Skills: Another visible and surface characteristic that allows a person to perform a task or responsibility.
If you may have noticed, of these five characteristics, only two can be demonstrated and these are: knowledge and skills. The other three – intentions, attributes, and self-image are rather difficult to assess as these are hidden characteristics of a person.