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Competency Based Development

Everyone today is talking about competency based development. Here is my attempt and version of what can be competency based development. Let’s start from the beginning, i.e. the meaning of competency. There are many definitions of competency doing rounds, for the article we’ll look at competency as a trait or characteristic that allows an individual to successfully accomplish work or task assigned. These characteristics are the culmination of individual’s; skills, knowledge and attributes. The traits or characteristics are known as competency only and only if they allow or result in superior performance.

The next question is often asked why use competency as the predictor of performance? Why not simply look at the individual’s performance? Well the answer is simple while in the short term which might mean in the current role the performance of the individual might be a good indicator but for future performance competency is not only a better option but more often than not the only option. The reason being that; people perform tasks or jobs using their competency to achieve desired results. While work or jobs might change, competencies are of more enduring nature and immune to change in the job or work context. To summarize competencies are what individuals use to perform successfully and with out it consistent performance is not possible.


Now that we have attempted to state the meaning of competency we take on our next important phrase “employee development” is the pursuit of any activity that leads to continuous learning, personal growth, and which contributes to the achievement of both an individual’s and their employer’s or organization’s objective(s) on the longer term.

Keeping the above two definition in mind we have tried to list down certain steps which might be used work towards doing a pilot and then institutionalize competency based employee development.

1. The Background
a. Identify a champion, target employees, and structural framework for an employee development process.
b. Assess the need for a competency development process; get an estimate for the organization’s competency needs.
c. Complete employee competency assessments and define estimates of target employees’ competency acquisition needs.(A SWAT of the target group’s competencies)

2. The Plan and Implementation
a. Understand the target groups “personal aspirations”.
b. Develop a plan for implementation of the competency based employee development services.
c. Brief all stake holders and obtain resource support to implement the start-up process plan.
d. Create a steering committee (there should be representatives from all stat holders).
e. Implement and evaluate the start-up process.
3. The follow up
a. Make case studies of the implementation and spread the learning’s amongst the stake holders.
b. Institutionalize the learning and take the process to a larger group.

This is what I feel organizations may try to build a sustainable competency based employee development. The above section talks about Organizations’ role in the process; in the following steps I’ll elaborate what should an employee do to ensure a holistic success of not just the process but their own careers also.


1. Understand The Requirement: Most organizations have a central document which lists the competency expectations from every role in the organization. Make sure that you visit this page and understand the requirement correctly. Don’t hesitate to clarify if you are in doubt, remember in the long run it will only be of your help.

2. Stop Excusing Yourself From Trainings:
One often ignores the soft skills (business skills) trainings that you are asked to attend. These trainings are organized for your benefit. Try to maximize the learning from these sessions. They will stand you in good stead.

3. Appraisals Mean much for Than Hikes and Promotions:
People often make the mistake of looking at appraisal only as a precursor to hikes and promotions. One must rather concentrate on the discussion of how one can better the performance. Which are the competencies that one’s needs to work harder on.

I have tried pen my experiences both as an employee and a HR practitioner. Hope these will shed some light to the otherwise elusive concept of competencies.

Contributed By:  Sajiri Chidgupkar, HR Enthusiast & Freelance Consultant

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