Matching Competencies to Roles

This is an important aspect of performance management that is often overlooked. Attainment of goals and good performance should not be judged solely on whether or not the objective was attained within its set time. As a manager you must also assess a person's performance on the behaviors they exhibited and how closely these match those expected of the role.

As part of your information gathering, you need to include and note your observations of the competencies an individual displays. 'Competencies' can be defined as the way in which a team member works towards their objectives. Does the member's behavior match the responsibilities of their role?

Does the team member exhibit competencies that are more akin to their superiors? If this is the case should you be acknowledging this in their appraisal meeting and setting them goals more appropriate to their level of competency? These are the sorts of observations you can discuss with the individual throughout the year.

When you set an individual's goals you can also specify the degree of competency you expect that person to attain. The responsibilities that have been assigned to this individual's role indicate what the organization expects of them and their behavior.

You will need to decide the relative weight given to each objective and the competencies that are expected. You will also need to ascertain how much emphasis your organization places on results and how much it places on encouraging the competencies or behaviors that will lead to higher performance.

Goals and competencies

Using each role's responsibilities as outlined in the job specification you can define and communicate the role's competencies to the individual so that they know the aggregate behaviors they need to display in order to perform their job to a high level.

This illustrates to each member that the way in which they achieve their objectives is as important as the end result.

For example:
Just because a sales person achieves their sales target does not mean they are a high performer. The behaviors they displayed in attaining this target may have been:

▪ To focus only on this sale and not future potential business, which is contrary to organizational objective.
▪ To have poorly communicated the client's needs internally, resulting in wasted effort during implementation and a low level of customer satisfaction.

Typically, competencies will have various levels, each of which is defined and illustrated by the expected behaviors written as part of the role's responsibilities. Larger organizations may develop a competency framework that defines the whole range of competencies. Some are defined as 'core competencies,' apply to all employees, whilst others, such as leadership, may only be appropriate to managers.

All organizations are different and will need to develop the particular competencies that suit them. Some of the competencies found in competency frameworks include:

• Communicating Effectively
• Planning and Organizing
• Leadership
• Teamwork
• Creativity
• Focus on Goals
• Embracing Change

For a more complete description of competencies please see our eBook 'Developing Competencies'.

As part of the appraisal process you will need to agree appropriate competencies with each member of your team. Each competency is then assessed against the framework according to the behaviors they demonstrate whilst performing the role. A well-designed framework will help with a wide range of human resource activities. These may include performance management, learning, development and career planning, as well as recruitment and selection.

You may also be interested in:
Performance Management Cycle | OSCAR Principles of Performance Management | Setting SMART Goals and Objectives | Performance Appraisal Role Description | Appraisal Process Steps | Stages of the Appraisal Process.

Key Points

  • When observing your staff, assess them on the competencies they display according to the responsibilities of their role.
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