Competency matrix

Selection of leadership style based on the competency model is very important and challenging task. To support the competency model, the Competency Matrix becomes essential for a good leader to succeed.

Primary Objectives
  • Create a culture that inspires and empowers every individual to contribute his best in building business and organization through self development.
  • Review current work performance and plan for the future improvements.
  • Provide an opportunity for post-appraisal discussions and guidance to promote self development.
  • Provide an objective basis to recognize and reward meritorious and outstanding performance.
  • Provide an objective basis to identify substandard performance and reasons for it.
  • Meet the need of each person to know how well he is performing.
  • Support coaching, mentoring, training and development activities.
  • Support internal mobility like growth paths, transfers, job rotation etc.
  • Chalk out career plan and career growth as suited to each individual's existing and potential strength profile.
  • Provide a basis for recruitment and selection of persons from external or internal candidates by identifying the best qualified person for a particular job or position.
What information does this simple analysis of team member competencies provide and how can you use it to improve the team effectiveness and efficiency ? Lets check one by one qualities which we need to measure in terms of competency to gauge the work force. In order to carry out an organization's business in a superior manner, it needs to identify the competencies it's managers and all other employees should possess, further improve and practice to improve their job performance towards achieving it's goals.

Ability: An individual's capability either developed or not developed (undiscovered, unrealized and untapped). An accountant may be able to sell but has not done so.

Attitude: An individual's tendency to act in predictable ways. A manager may have humanistic attitude and therefore, he may be compassionate towards people.

Behavior: What an individual performs or does is his behavior and that is observable. It is based on his thinking which is not observable.

Competency: It is the developed ability of an individual. One competency may be a good integration of several allied skills related to the competency. Conducting an effective meeting is a competency that calls for many allied skills like making a meeting agenda, promoting healthy group process, resolving conflicts, managing time etc. Competencies are observable and ratable/measurable.

Knowledge: What an individual knows and comprehends is knowledge. Knowledge may be obtained from formal education, observations, training and experience.

Management: It consists of planning, organizing, staffing, directing (also leading) and controlling.

Potential: It is the predicted future performance of an individual.

Performance: Actual work output/results given by an individual against the expected results or goals/objectives is his performance. It is normally the basis for appraisals and rewards.

Practice: An individual acting as per his or organizational strategies and policies is putting the policies into practice.

Skill: It is the work behavior. In a sense, every verb in a dictionary is a skill. It is micro competency. Allied skills make a competency. In earlier example of conducting meeting, listening is another skill that is essential for conducting effective meetings. Skills are observable and ratable/measurable.

Style: Patterns of behavior is style. A person with humanistic values will have particular sets of behavior towards people and that defines his style.

Traits: They are personal characteristics. For example, an individual can be harsh, arrogant, aggressive or some other person may be polite, just, assertive etc. Many a time, they may not be observable or ratable/measurable.

Competency is Not a Task Statement :

  1. Competency is a combination of an underlying capability, a characteristic or an ability with knowledge and skills that results in an effective performance. If competencies are improved, they will give still more effective or superior performance.
  2. Competencies are knowledge and skills statements and not task statements. For example: conducting the meetings is a task. In order to do so, one needs required competency. Therefore, in this case the required competency is the combination of skills to make an agenda, to promote a healthy group process, to resolve conflicts, to manage time etc.
Developing Competency Matrix :

1. An organization should develop an inventory of all the competencies it will need from it's people in order to run it's business effectively and efficiently as per it's vision, mission, objectives and strategies.

2. These identified competencies then should be classified and grouped together accordingly. The following classifications can be made:

  • Behavioral or soft competencies (these competencies relate to self-awareness and interpersonal competencies of an individual at his individual level): For example: initiative and drive, motivation, leadership, team work. Managerial competencies (these are organizational, people-related, and role-related): For example these competencies could be decision making, communication, delegation, disciplining.
  • Technical competencies/hard competencies (some people call them functional competencies): For example: a supervisor in an automobile factory supervising the operations of numerically controlled (NC) machines should have in-depth knowledge of working of NC machines, an HR specialist should have expertise in various types of performance appraisal systems, a programmer should have a good grasp in writing programs in the specific computer languages as needed by the IT organization employing him.
Some more examples of the competencies under these classifications are given later in this write-up.

There could be other alternate ways for classifying competencies as given below:
  1. Competencies for individual excellence or for managing self.
  2. Competencies for interpersonal relations.
  3. Managerial competencies which can be further classified as: 1. Organizational. 2. Role related and 3. People related.
  4. Functional or technical competencies.
  5. Information related competencies

3. Each competency, in turn, will have it's levels of proficiencies. These should be identified.

4. Clear explanations of each level of each competency should be written down. These levels are given different labels by different organizations as per their needs. Some examples are given below:
  • In one organization, these proficiency levels for each competency are graded as: oh-oh, so-so, good and great.
  • In other organization, they are termed as: baseline, collaborative productivity, ownership, managing complexity and expert.
  • In another organization, they simply put them as: level 1, level 2, level 3 and level 4.
  • Irrespective of what labels or names these levels are given, basically the levels mean: beginner level, learner level, skilled level, expert or master-skill level.
5. Finally for each job or each position which competencies of which proficiency level are required should be determined. This is called developing a "competency matrix".

Competency Mapping:

Having created competency matrix for every job/position, the job incumbent's current competencies are evaluated against the desired competencies and their level of proficiency. This is mapping the competencies of a job holder against the desired competency matrix for that job. The gaps in desired and actual competencies are identified. This entire process can be done collaboratively by the job holder himself and his superior(s).

Post Competency Matrix/Mapping :

Once the gaps in competencies and proficiency levels are known, the gap analysis is carried out. The analysis focuses on the further development of the job holder rather than trying to pin him down for his lacunae in competencies. Therefore, the reasons for the gaps are found out objectively and further course of action to remove these gaps is decided and implemented.
Answers to where to improve and how to improve are worked out:
  • Competencies the job holder need to improve.
  • What job holder will do to to improve them?
  • What the job holder's superior(s), HR department and the organization will do to improve them?

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