Making the most of existing competences and tapping into your staff’s potential is critical to many companies’ innovation and even their survival. Competence management is a great way to make the most of your staff’s competences. But what is competence management exactly? What are its main benefits? And how should you implement competence management in practice?
First, what are ‘competences’?
We often use the word ‘competence’ in the same breath as ‘skill’ or even interchangeably. But these two words don’t actually mean the same thing. A competence is in essence the sum total of knowledge, skills, and character traits or attitudes. As such, ‘competence’ has a broader meaning than ‘skill’. Examples of a competence include adaptability, engagement, collegiality, learning ability, and self-knowledge.
For a more in-depth perspective, read our article,Skills & competences – but what’s the difference?
But what is competence management exactly?
Every role requires certain competences. Sometimes, an employee already has these competences, but other times he or she has to acquire or cultivate them first.
That’s where competence management comes into play.
A good definition of competence management is ‘a methodology aimed primarily at capitalizing on employees’ skills, knowledge, and professionalism to the fullest extent possible in line with organizational objectives.’
The benefits of competence management
There are many reasons why companies decide to implement competence management.
One of the foremost reasons is that doing so allows you to carefully align your staff’s competences and professionalism with your organization’s primary objectives. For example, if improving your marketing strategy is an important objective, then by using competence management you should cultivate and nurture your staff’s communications and sales skills.
Competence management also helps you improve your recruitment policies. By analyzing and clearly mapping which competences are vital to achieving your organization’s objectives, it becomes much easier to identify candidates with the right competences, skills, and character traits during job interviews.
What’s more, competence management can also have a positive effect on employees regarding promotion and job prospects because they have clearer insights into their strengths and weaknesses as part of a personal development plan. Oftentimes, staff are free to chart a career path that aligns with and benefits the organization as a whole. With a sharper insight into their core competences, staff know exactly where they need to focus to make further improvements. It also strengthens internal career advancement and talent retention. When properly implemented, competence management allows staff to look ahead and determine which competences they’ll need for a new role or job.
Lastly, there’s also a close correlation between competences and innovation. Organizations that take competence management seriously generally experience shorter learning curves. And what does this achieve? Quicker, tangible results!
How should you implement competence management in your daily operations? Try the five steps outlined below:
1. Define your organization’s core competences
What makes your company unique? What core competences help you differentiate yourself from the competition? Do you supply a top-quality product? Or is your service head and shoulders above that of your industry? Determining your organization’s core competences forms a basis for solid competence management.
2. Create clear competence profiles
Once you’ve defined your company’s core competences, you can then examine your staff’s individual competences. In an ideal situation, there’ll be a 100% match with those vital to your company’s operations. Profiles – grouping roles, competences, and skills – are useful tools for mapping your workforce’s competences.
3. Make competences measurable
‘Quantify to qualify’ also applies to competence management. You can measure competences by defining results and performance indicators using the SMART methodology, skills matrices, or special-purpose skills management software. For example, if it’s a certain department’s objective to improve its quality control, you could measure staff competence levels by recording the number of incoming complaints or positive reviews.
4. Create support
It’s only possible to make competence management a true success if everyone supports its use. Include people and make it clear why competence management is valuable to both individuals and the organization as a whole.
5. Integrate competences
Include core competences in every part of your daily operations. This means that they should also play a role in every phase of the HR process. List them in your job ads, mention them during your job interviews, and address them as part of career development and performance reviews. You should also align your organization’s training programs with these core competences.
Tips for successfully implementing competence management
There are many best practices aimed at significantly improving competence management outcomes. Take advantage of the following tips and tricks!
- Don’t just look at the competences and character traits your staff already have. Try to identify employees with hidden competences and potential. Oftentimes, people are capable of far more given a nudge in the right direction.
- Don’t only measure competence levels when staff come to work at your organization. Solid competence management practices rely on ongoing monitoring at crucial moments throughout an individual’s career.
- Start small-scale, for example focus on a single job or role. Once this low-key approach starts to bear fruit, for example perceived value and enthusiasm among your staff, expand your scope.
- Evaluate your staff based on their results, as competence management is essentially people management.
- Define competences and roles in clear, concise language.
How software can help you
Successful competence management practices rely on having a clear picture of all your workforce’s skills and competences at any given time. You can achieve this using tools such as AG5’s skills management software. Its skills matrices allow you to view and update skills and competences from the work floor – anytime, anyplace, anywhere – as all your information is stored centrally in the cloud. Everything you need to get the most out of competence management.