“‘Nothing’ is very important to me For it is from there I have started my journey.” — J M Sampath

Competency Management Enigma

HR on one hand is doing its best to develop competency in people but on the other is constantly battling inefficiency. There is still a large knowing – doing gap that organizations face. This gap is usually pushed as HR issue. Mapping and managing competence has been rewarding as well as a challenging feature of HR in the last decade. There is a realization that every task and position in the organization requires certain competencies. There is an inherent belief that people have certain competencies and are capable of developing other required competencies through learning and education. Hence there is a hue and cry on competency mapping in the last five years. Yet the issue of non-alignment between competency and delivery of the task is still seen existing in organizations. The challenge lies in the fact that in-spite of the competency being taught and developed yet on the ground it does not show up many times or it shows up in personal space and not in the work space or vice versa. What then should be the actual focus in competency? Is it competency mapping? Competency management? What is causing this gap?

'It is important to know what I am capable of, It is even more important to know what I am using my capabilities for' (Sampath JM, 2003)

Employees may have many competencies but we cannot forget that they live in a state where they have to make choices all the time in life. We may have capability to handle a certain situation but may not be willing to do the same in another situation due to several other considerations. Further there are baggages of beliefs that are continuously controlling the usage of these competencies. Also, the extent to which we identify with the task, organization and team and feel belonging is a deciding factor on the usage of competency. While HR is focused on mapping and management, not enough focus has gone into the stimulants and catalysts that will enhance the usage of the competencies.

In competence management it is not the skills alone that are important to be developed. But it is education that will make employees want to make the choice of using the skill which is more important. The competence building activity should involve both education and skill development. Usually it is easier to focus on skills to be developed and design programs that will impart the skills to employees. The employees having the additional new skills still continue to make the choice of where and how much they want to employ those skills. There are times when employees feel that using the skills will attract more work and responsibility and choose not to use it in organizational context. The skills many a time do not get aligned or connect to the organizational and personal vision of the employee.

The employees have to be given the education to deep dive on the importance and gain clarity on the competence and its usage, they will realize the need to develop certain competencies and skills. Then the skill that they acquire will be meaningful to them, which will further make them decide to use the same. The employees should not see competence enhancement from merely an employability perspective but from being an asset and contribute wherever they are in life. These competencies will then be seen as a part of evolution in life and a maturity process. They will not be perceived as something that the organization is giving to enhance employability and extraction.

There are several factors that influence the usage of the competencies. These include –

  • The beliefs that control the behaviour
  • The differing personal vision vs organizational vision
  • The ego that brings the ‘I know” attitude stopping application of learning
  • The non clarity on life vision and consequently non alignment towards life goals
  • Low feeling of belongingness to the organization and job
  • Disparity in rewards and recognition or non clarity in measures of competence
  • High connection of competence to materialistic gains within the organization
  • No clear measurement strategies and not aligned to organizational growth

Further the HR has to focus on building the capacity of the employees to integrate the skills making it a part of their personality. They also need to be matured to continuously be more context sensitive and have the capacity to quickly discern the choice of using the most appropriate competency in handling various situations in their life. A true work on competency is a highly integrated, deep and continuous process that will evolve the human beings than mere employees. A competency development activity of this kind will then be a contribution to the individual and become an activity to enhance the consciousness of the world.

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