Human Resource: Importance of Competency

Topics: Human resource management, Strategic management, Management Pages: 10 (2462 words) Published: March 8, 2013

The main purpose of this essay is to illustrate the importance of the idea of competency as well as seeks to outline its application to staff undertaking international assignments.

Lucia & Lepsinger (1999) define competency as “a cluster of related knowledge, skills, and attitudes that affects a major part of one’s job (a role or responsibility), that correlates with performance on the job, that can be measured against well-accepted standards, and that can be improved via training and development.” People or the organization should possess the core competencies to excel in work’s performance and hence be improved in the future to achieve effectiveness in work and organization’s goal (Ibid).

Why have the idea of competency become so important?

Organizations today identified the key to business success through strategic human resource management (SHRM) (Compton 2009). To achieve SHRM, the strategic plans have to be pro-active and be open to changes in the organization’s external environment such as its competitors and globalization (Ibid). Having a deeper understanding about competencies is critical, as it will allow the organization to focus on achieving organizational goals and responding to the external environment (Lucia & Lepsinger 1999).

The Harvard Analytical framework for HRM

Figure 1. (Source: Beer et al. 1985)

The Harvard analytical framework for HRM in Figure 1 above consists of five main components, which are situational factors, stakeholder interests, HRM policy choices, HR outcomes and long-term consequences (Beer et al. 1984). As shown in Figure 1, in order to satisfy the shareholders’ expectations, organizations must have the HR outcomes that follow from HR policy choices that will allow it to implement business strategies successfully (eds. Ferris, Rosen & Barnum 1995). Key members of the organization should have the commitment to their work, appropriate competence to carry out their work and lastly, staying cost-effectiveness that will benefit the organization (Ibid).


The competencies of the key members of the organization will define its ability in carrying out activities to ensure that they are cost-effective and hence be beneficial to the organization (eds. Ferris, Rosen & Barnum 1995). It is crucial that the organization hire the right person with the right competency for the job. Barlett & Goshal (2003) believe that the main keys of strategic resource are the employees and so, human resource managers should critically utilize them to meet the competitive environment.

Competency, competency-based approaches, competency profiling, and competency models are widely used by managers in the organization when it comes to human resource decision-making ((Berge et al. 2002). It includes recruiting of employees. As for training and development, competencies will be helpful too to emphasize on skills, knowledge and abilities (Ibid). They are useful tool and advantage that organization uses to outlearn their competitors as well (Senge, cited in Zinghiem, Ledford Jr & Schuster 1996).

One way to separate the best from the average in the pool of recruitments is to explore competencies (Lucia & Lepsinger 1999). The ability to do so depends on an idea of the organization’s goals and what competencies will be essential to achieve it (Ibid).

Getting competent employees at all level of the organization is not just about training them but it should start from recruitment and selection process (Ashkenas et al., cited in Albrecht 2001). Recruitment is the process whereby managers search for candidates that will make an organizational influence to fill up a certain job or role (Bach 2005). For organization to respond to the rapid-changing environment, organization needs to attract and retain highly competent individuals that will respond effectively to the change (Ibid). Hiring such competent employees is reliant...
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