Career - Competency - Based Human Resource Management


Prof. Dileep Kumar M.


Organisations in the modern days are undergoing heavy transformation in the wake of industrialization and globalization. Here, Human Resource Management practices are getting wider acceptance in the developmental and transformational process.  Organisation management is giving more thrust in understanding and developing the competency of employees and make use the tool competency mapping, for the improvement of productivity and in maintaining a positive work culture. This application of the competence approach covers the operational areas of human resource management in the organization viz., selection, remuneration, vocational training, evaluation and promotion. The competency mapping works at the enterprise level than out side realms. The objective behind this effort is to identify the best, better and good and average effort on the part of the individual workers and support the best effort, encourage the better effort, empower the good effort and train the average effort of the workers towards the best performance. Competency-based methodology was pioneered by Hay-McBer company founder David McClelland, a Harvard University psychologist in the late 1960's and early 1970's (Czarnecki, 1995).

Competence and Competency

The word competence is having several meanings. Some consider competence as job based while some others consider it as individual based. Dubois (1993), a leading expert in the applied competency field, defines competence as "the employee's capacity to meet (or exceed) a job's requirements by producing the job outputs at an expected level of quality within the constraints of the organization's internal and external environments."

Boyatzis (1982) A competency as "an underlying characteristic of the person" which could be "a motive, trait, skill, aspect of one's self-image or social role, or a body of knowledge which he or she uses".

Person based competencies" includes further Self-Confidence, Creativity, and Cognitive Capacity – competencies etc.  While some other authors strongly argued that competence is related to the job and area of expertise. These conflicting arguments are still continuing. While this author likes to indicate that there is no right answer to the question - what is a competency? What is important is that organizations adopt a definition that makes sense, meets its needs, and is used consistently in HR operations and applications. Competencies are general descriptions of the abilities necessary to perform successfully in areas specified. Competency profiles synthesize skills, knowledge, attributes and values, and express performance requirements in behavioral terms...The review of competency profiles helps managers and employees to continually reassess the skills and knowledge needed for effective performance. Competencies dominantly compared as general description of the abilities that are necessary to perform a task effectively. Competency lies on the many factors in the work performance. It may relate to the routine works, non-routine works, team efforts, control, coordinating and guiding workers, allocation of resources, analysis, diagnosis, design, planning, execution and evaluation.

Competency is "a cluster of related knowledge, attitudes, skills and other personal characteristics that …Affects a major part of one's job, Correlates with performance on the job, Can be measured against well-accepted standards, Can be improved via training and development" (Source: Scott Parry 1998, Project Management Competency Development Framework, PMI). A competency is what a successful employee must be able to do to accomplish desired results on a job. Competencies are built up over time and are not innate. It typically takes experience on the job to build competencies. Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs), by contrast, might be brought into the job by entry-level employees.

Competence Levels

Different activities required different competency levels in the discharge of responsibilities and duties associated with the functions. Many competencies like behavioural competency, Knowledge competency, motivational competency, language (communication), value competency etc are required for effective performance. The behavioural competency involves member's attitude and feeling towards the work and work performance that results in good or poor performance. The behavioural competency is closely related to motivational competency. How an individual worker think about the work organisation and work performance.  The knowledge competency involves the awareness; knowledge and expertise related to the job, technology and procedures related to work. The language competency is related to individual workers ability to understand and communicate the things precisely in a two way process.

Competency Mapping

A competency is something that describes what, where, how and when a job to be done as per the requirement of the organisational objectives.  Competency mapping is a process of identifying key competencies for a particular position in an organisation, and then using it for job-evaluation, recruitment, training and development, performance management, succession planning, etc. Competency mapping process is designed to consistently measure and assess individual and group performance to accomplish the objectives of the organization and it further help to fulfill the expectations of customers. It is used to identify key attributes (knowledge, skills, and behavior attributes) that are required to perform effectively in a job classification or an identified process. Competency mapping involves two sets of activities. One is related to the work activities and work process and the other is related to the individual and group performance. It is about identifying preferred behaviors and personal skills, which distinguish excellent and outstanding performance from the average.

Steps in Competency Mapping

Understanding the core competencies that required for the organisation is the initial steps in the competency mapping. Many competencies are required for the organisation in the effective performance of various functions. While certain competencies like, decision-making skill, communication skills, problem solving skills, team-building skills etc are included under core competency areas. These skills are essential in all the functional areas of management. Methods like brainstorming and participative focus group discussions etc can realize the core competencies required for the managers. After the identification of the core competencies the next step is to relate these competencies with various function in business management. Since the core competencies varied in marketing, finance, purchase, operations management, production etc, the competencies required to perform different junctions also varied. For this effort the position and responsibilities of each functional person need to be assessed into. A job analysis is to be done in the initial stages. By understanding the core responsibilities and core competencies, the job description viz., written document of the functional responsibilities, to be prepared in relation to different positions and departments. The job description and the cop potencies identified are the base upon which the training and development programmes, mentoring programmes and coaching to be extended to the members by the superiors in the organisation. The Human Resource management needs to prepare a plan of action for each individual member considering the actual competency and the expected competency. This process creates awareness in the individual about his behavioural traits in detail, and helps him chalk out an individual development plan. By forecasting the expected performance the impact analysis of the process can be done. The competency mapping process also has to make provision of career development. The core competencies that required to perform higher responsible jobs also to be identified and members should expose to such requirements.

Use of Competency Mapping

Competency mapping can play a significant role in

* Recruitment and selection
* Performance management,
* Training and Development,
* Succession planning,
* Job enrichment and job enlargement
* Organizational development analysis


Competencies and competency-based human resources management (CBHRM) are in common practice in many organisations. To survive in a turbulent and dynamic business environment organisations have to adopt competency based human resource management practices, which are vital to productivity and performance excellence. Human Resource Management in the organisation have to give keen importance to these process since competency determine the organisation effort to compete with quality and quality. Employees in the organisation are more concerned about their advancement in their career. In addition to the competency consideration career also to be considered by the Human Resource managers in the individual planning level. Career-based and competency-based approaches of Human Resource Management have productive result in the productivity and business surplus in many organisations. Human Resource Managers have to look more in the area of CCHRM (Career Competency – Based HRM) effort as a panacea to productivity and quality assurance in the wake of acute business competition.

Prof. Dileep Kumar M.

Source: E-mail April 13, 2006


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