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Competency based Human Resource Management

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This is about using concept of competency & results of competency analysis to improve process of recruitment & selection, employee development & reward.

Concept of competency achieved degree of prominence since it is essentially about performance.

It is directly concerned with factors contribution & hence organisational effectiveness.

An obsession with competency building will characterize the global winners. (Prahlad & Hamel)


Competent people at work are those who meet their performance expectations. They are capable of using their knowledge, skills & personal attributes to achieve objectives & standards specified for their roles.

Two terms Competence & Competency are somewhat confusingly used to describe this overall concept.

The concept of competency


Boyatzis (1982) developed this concept & established there was no single factor but a range of factors to differentiate successful from less successful managers.

The range of factors included personal qualities, motives, experience & behavioural characteristics under various headings.

He defined competency as A capacity that exists in a person that leads to behaviour that meets job demands within parameters of organisational environment which inturn, brings about desired

Following Clusters of competencies have been suggested:


Goal & action management Directing subordinates Human resource management Leadership

There have been alternative uses of the term competency & definitions are as follows:

The behavioural dimensions that affect job performance.

Any individual characteristic that can be measured or

The fundamental abilities & well.


capabilities needed to do their work

All work-related personal attributes knowledge, skills & values that a person draws upon to do their work well.

Competencies are Criterion validated, i.e. they are derived from behaviour of


was conceived in the UK for


developing standards for vocational qualifications (NVQ/SVQs).


specify minimum standards for

achievement of set tasks & activities expressed in ways that can be observed & assessed with a view to certification.

element of competence is a


was defined as being what


a person who works in a given occupation a person who works in a given occupation should be able to do Actions, behaviour or outcome that the person should be able to demonstrate. A wide concept which embodies the ability to transfer skills & knowledge to new situations within occupational

Competency & competence4/23/12 distinguished:

Competency has become the term embracing concepts of both competency & competence.

Competency is being used to refer to ability to perform a job or part of a job competently & to sets of behaviour the person must display in tasks & functions of job with competence.

Competency is a person-related concept referring to dimensions of behaviour lying behind competent performance.

Competency is a work related concept that refers to

Areas of competence are quite specific based on functional analysis which breaks down jobs into such areas.


Analysis of person-related competencies proceeds to specific types of behaviour & groups these types under competencies. Some competency lists in organisations mix up the two variables of aspects of the job & aspects of person as if they were directly comparable, which is not the case.

Organisations adopt a hybrid approach which incorporates use of both behavioural, people based competencies & work-based competences. These are

Many organisations hence abandoned the use of term competency & instead refer to capabilities, which simply describes what people have to be able to do & how they have to behave in order to carry out work successfully.


Capable people do their work well, achieving their objectives & meeting the required standards of performance.

It would be preferable to avoid the jargon & use Capability as a term that embraces both competences & competencies.

The constituents of competency:


Motives: - The underlying need pattern that drives & selects an individuals behaviour.

Traits: - General dispositions to behave or respond in a creation way; for example, self-confidence, self control, resistance to stress, Hardiness;

Self Concept: - The individuals attitudes & values; Content Knowledge: - Of facts or procedures, either technical (How to trouble shoot a defective computer) or inter-personal (How to give feedback);

Others stress that it is application of knowledge & not knowledge itself that is important to competent performance.


Competence based standards emphasised on role of knowledge & understanding demonstrated on effective performance competence implies capacity to transfer what people know & understand to different contexts i.e. the various aspects of their work.

It is continued that competency is only concerned with behaviour. Personal attributes such as knowledge, skills & expertise should be considered


Types of competencies

Competencies could be generic or specific, threshold or performance, or differentiating. Competencies can be universally generic applying to all people in an occupation i.e. initiative or Organisationally generic, or a job family.

Competencies related to individual roles (Role-specific Competencies)

Differentiating Competencies: This defines the behaviour characteristics which high performers display as distinct from less effective people The


Positive Indicators:

Achieves high level of performance from team. Defines objectives, plans & expectations clearly. Continually monitors performance & provides good feedback.

Maintains effective relationships with individuals & the team as a whole.

Develops a sense of common purpose in the team. Builds team morale & motivates individual members of team effectively by recognizing their contribution

Negative Indicators:


Does not achieve high levels of performace from team.

Fails clarify objectives or standards of performance. Pays insufficient attention to needs to individual & the team.

Neither monitors nor provides effective feedback on performance.

Competencies can also be set out in the form of a scale to provide a basis for assessment as in example

Personal Drive


Self confident & assertive drive to win with decisiveness & resilience:


Decisive even under pressure, assertive & toughminded in arguing his case, very self-confident, shrugs off set-backs.


Will commit himself to definite opinions determined to be heard, can come back strongly if attacked.


May reserve judgement where uncertain but stands firm on important points, AIMS for compromise, fairly resilient.


Describing Competencies: Descriptions of competencies may be called competency frameworks, competency clusters & lists:

Competency Frameworks Define competency requirements that cover all key jobs in an organisational or all jobs in a job family. The frameworks are likely to consist of Generic Competencies.

Competency Maps describe different aspects or categories of competent behaviour in an occupation against competency dimensions such as strategic


profiles set out


competencies required for effective performance in a specified role. These may be set out in the form of Differentiating competencies.

lists & clusters: These

describe main competency dimensions for individuals in frameworks, maps or


Typical Competencies:

Communication; Achievement/result orientation; Customer Focus; Teamwork; Leadership; Planning & Organising; Commercial/Business Awareness Flexibility/Adaptability;


Integrated HR management

Concept of competency lies at the very heart of HR management. It is directly linked to a fundamental aim of strategic HRM to obtain & develop highly competent people who will readily achieve their objectives & thus maximise their contribution to attainment of goals of organisation.

The language of competence & the existence of a competency framework can provide an invaluable basis for integrating key HR activities & achieving a coherent approach to management of people. The

Competency based integrated HR management.


Applications in each of these areas All linked together by common language of competence.


Recruitment & Selection: A competency approach to recruitment & selection focuses on performance rather than job content. Hence performance criteria to be defined in terms of competency profile for the job.

HR planning process will be related to forecasts of future competency requirements.

Defined levels of competencies identified will provide a framework for structured interviews.

Assessment Centers: Focus will always be on behaviour defined in terms of competency dimensions that distinguish high performance. Key behavioural aspects will be assessed using a scoring system for each dimension.


Performance Management: Full performance management process with concerns for outputs & results & behavioural aspects of role will be developed emphasis will be on modifying behavioural aspects as assessed for performance improvement.

Human resource Development understanding of competencies required in particular roles will be basis for creating learning situations & plans: - Selfmanaged learning, coaching & counseling, personal development plans, more formal training events & programmes to determine achieving defining learning needs.


A competency framework, competency maps & competency profiles will indicate learning needs the specific competency dimensions & the necessary learning opportunities, stimulation of self development.