What is Competence?
The word competence, though common in day to day
parlance as ability or qualification of an individual, has many
connotations in different fields.
For example, in biology, competence refers to the ability of a
cell to take up DNA.
In geology, competence of the rock the resistance it offers
In jurisprudence, competence of a witness means the mental
capacity of the person to participate in legal proceedings.
However, the maximum use of competence is done in the
industry where it has come to refer to specific requirements
from an individual to perform a given job.
Three Levels of
1. Core Competences – Organizational Level. An organization
has to be good at various things such as customer orientation,
producing high-quality goods or services, innovation, adding
value through the effective use of resources and managing
2. Generic Competences – Shared by group of similar jobs such
as financial accountants, system analysts, team leader etc.
3. Role-specific competences- Unique to a particular role.
What is Competency?
Competency on the other hand, in industrial jargon, refers
to description of skills and knowledge along with
experience, behaviour and other attributes that are
necessary to perform a task or job.
In simple words, competencies are skills required for a job.
Thus when you are shown competencies, it means you
have been described what has to be done and how well.
Understanding what needs to be done.
Getting the job done.
Taking people with you.
Competence is about what people have to do to
achieve results and it is not about how they do it.
Answers to the following questions are to be
obtained to do the analysis:-
What are the elements of this job – what does the
job-holder have to do?
For each element, what is an acceptable standard
What levels and types of knowledge and skills are
required to ensure that the job-holder is fully
capable in each element of the job?
How will role-holders and their managers know that
the required levels of competence have been
Competence Analysis at
Southern Focus Trust
Core Competences were:
1. Provide quality service.
2. Manage the business and provision of services effectively.
3. Ensure that accountabilities are defined, accepted and
4. Acquire, develop and use professional expertise to deliver
5. Develop and apply interpersonal skills to achieve aims and
standards and to comply with the Trust’s core values.
It is concerned with the behavioural dimensions of
roles which considers what people have to do to
How do people in this role behave when they
carry it out effectively or ineffectively?
The answer to the above question will help us
define the competencies and differentiate the
positive and negative sets of behaviour.
1. Expert opinion
HR department experts make a list of ‘what counts’.
Line managers and job-holders no involved and thus the list is
2. Structured interview
Expert prepare a list of competence headings.
Take interviews to sought effective and ineffective behaviours in
Should instead take interviews first and then group specific types of
behaviour under competence headings.
Bring together expert people in their fields along with a facilitator.
The members give examples of what kind of behaviour is effective and
ineffective for a particular job. List down and group those
E.g. Divisional HR director/Manager.
4. Functional analysis
Distinction made between tasks (activities) and functions (purpose).
5. Critical incident technique
Event – good or bad and Behaviour – effective or less effective.
Observe the behaviour. Make corrections if less effective behaviour.
6. Repertory grid analysis
Personal construct theory. Way we behave or view other people’s
Procedure is known as ‘Triadic method of elicitation’.
7. Job competency assessment
David McClelland established 20 competencies and grouped them in 6
Competency assessment method for generic roles which have same basic
accountabilities. E.g. Research scientists or area sales manager.
Investigative interviews are taken. Information on ‘How they behave in their
job, what are their thoughts and actions’ is gathered by trained interviewer.
Helps distinguish between superior performer and average performer.
Critical incident and repertory – grid -> time consuming
and needs experience to be effective.
Job competency assessment -> for those who have not
got time or money to use any other approach.
Workshop -> best among all.
Functional analysis -> used when the main objective is to
develop NVQ standards.