T. V. Rao
Formerly Professor at IIMA and Founder National HRD Network
A lot is going on in recent times on the issue of competency mapping. A lot of resources spent and consultants invited to do competency mapping. Increased manpower costs, need for ensuring that competent people man critical positions, and the need to be competitive and recognition of the strategic advantages of having good human resources have compelled firms to be more competency driven. In good organisations competency mapping existed already. Traditionally HR Directors and their top management have always paid attention to competencies and incorporated them mostly in their appraisal systems. For example when L&T, LIC or NDDB, NOCIL, HLL, Bharat Petroleum etc. revised their Performance appraisal systems they focussed on the assessment of competencies. Role analysis was done and role directories prepared by the Indian Oil Corporation in mid eighties. Competency mapping is important and is an essential exercise. Every well managed firm should: have well defined roles and list of competencies required to perform each role effectively. Such list should be used for recruitment, performance management, promotions, placement and training needs identification.
What is Competency?
Any underlying characteristic required performing a given task, activity, or role successfully can be considered as competency. Competency may take the following forms: Knowledge, Attitude, Skill, Other characteristics of an individual including: Motives, Values, Self concept etc. Competencies may be grouped in to various areas. In classic article published a few decades ago in Harvard Business Review Daniel Katz grouped them under three areas which were later expanded in to the following four: Technical. Managerial, Human and Conceptual. This is a convenience classification and a given competency may fall into one or more areas and may include more than one from. It is this combination that are labelled and promoted by some firms as competency dictionaries. A competency dictionary of a firm gives detailed descriptions of the competency language used by that firm. It contains detailed explanations of the combinations of competencies (technical, managerial, human and conceptual knowledge, attitudes and skills) using their own language. For example Team work or Team Management competency can be defined in terms of organization specific and level specific behaviors for a given origination. At top levels it might mean in the case of one organization ability identify utilize and synergize the contributions of a project team and at another level it might mean ability to inspire and carry along the top management team including diversity management. In competency mapping all details of the behaviors (observable, specific, measurable etc.) to be shown by the person occupying that role are specified. History of Competencies
A team of Educationists lead by Benjamin Bloom in the USA in mid fifties laid the foundation for identifying educational objectives and there by defining the knowledge attitudes and skills needed to be developed in education. The task force lead by Bloom took several years to make an exhaustive classification of the educational objectives that were grouped under the cognitive domain.
David McClelland the famous Harvard Psychologist has pioneered the competency movement across the world. His classic books on "Talent and Society", "Achievement Motive", "The Achieving Society", "Motivating Economic Achievement" and "Power the Inner Experience" brought out several new dimensions of the competencies. These competencies exposed by McClelland dealt with the affective domain in Bloom's terminology. The turning point for competency movement is the article published in American Psychologist in 1973 by McClelland titled where in he presented data that traditional achievement and intelligence scores may not be able to...