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A competency profile (sometimes referred to as skills profile) is often created and used in organizations to evaluate candidates for a specific job but also to establish a developmental plan for employees based on the needs required for a position.

But before looking at how to build a competency profile, we must first ask ourselves, what is a competency? The term is definitely one of the most circulated among organizations today, especially when it comes to management, organizational development and HR departments. Apart from job descriptions, CV analysis and interviews, the all too popular phrase nowadays is “what competencies does it take to be successful in the position”.

So let us firstly become competent in explaining competencies:

If I had to sum it up, it would go as follows:

Competency: A defined set of behaviors, attributes, attitudes and knowledge required to accomplish a specific task or job. Although competencies can offer general descriptions of the requirements needed for an employee to perform their responsibilities, they can also be context-specific and provide guidelines for identifying, evaluating and developing your personnel. Simply said, competencies are what people need to be successful in their jobs.

 

Not to be confused with job tasks

To create a competency profile, it is important to understand what specific tasks are asked of an employee in a given position. But do not confuse job tasks with competencies. They are not the same thing. A task is a function that needs to be performed. It is something that has to be DONE, as opposed to competencies, which are more related to WHAT IT TAKES to perform that task effectively.

And so to build a competency profile, you must identify, define and really understand what tasks and responsibilities are required for the given position. If a necessary task is to “ensure that thorough weekly reports be submitted”, then a competency attached to that task might be something along the lines of “being detailed oriented”, “effective time management” or “organizing information conveniently”. It can even include a technical skill like being knowledgeable in a specific CRM software.

You must review job descriptions, tasks, specific actions that employees must perform, as well as business objectives in order to be able to zero in on the competencies (or skills) required.

 

Find out who’s built for the job:

Competency profiles are also composed of character traits needed to succeed in a given position.

At AtmanCo, our mission is to evaluate one’s natural reflexes and strengths in order to determine if they are aligned with a specific position. When describing competencies, one’s personality traits can be key factors for determining success. AtmanCo has job benchmarks that can be applied to profiles in order to obtain a candidate’s measure of success for a given position. We can pinpoint specific character traits (or naturel reflexes), which combined, can form the desired competencies you are looking for.

 

Identifying different types of competencies

Of course, the way you want to organize your competencies is strictly up to you, but here are a few competency types (among others) you might want to consider. Think of this as a funnel to arrive at the very specific competencies needed for a specific job title.

 

Competencies that are applicable to the entire organization, usually referred to as core competencies

These typically form the goals and values that are expected across the company, not only for specific positions. An example might be “peer rapport” which describes how each employee (from all hierarchical levels), can achieve this core competency. Skills such as “encouraging collaboration”, “being cooperative”, and “can reach a consensus” may come to mind.

AtmanCo can also create specific norms according to organizational culture. You can then compare this norm to incoming (or current) employees to see goodness of fit between their natural reflexes and the core competencies sought after in your organization.

 

Competencies that are specific to a job family (sometimes referred to as functional competencies)

These may be defined at the department or group level. They may also be looked at as competencies that are related to all jobs within a specific industry. For example, “data collection” which requires an employee to be efficient in observing, collecting and recording data may be a functional competency for a job in human resources.

 

Competencies that are specific to particular job tasks within your organization

These are a lot more precise. For example, people in sales positions may require similar functional competencies such as “effective questioning and probing” or “good communication skills”. Yet, a sales person on the floor of a clothing store versus an insurance salesman will differ in their job-task competencies. A person selling insurance will probably have competencies related to prospecting, presenting proposals and networking, which a retail floor salesperson will not.

Now that we’ve gone from wide to more narrow levels of competencies, here are a few things to help you on your journey to building an efficient competency profile:

1) Schedule a brainstorming “competency profiling” session with members of your team to discuss skills, knowledge and abilities required for a given position. Don’t be afraid to get really specific here! AtmanCo’s professionals can help you with your analysis, especially for pin-pointing which personality traits (or natural reflexes) are connected to which skills.

2) Observe the behaviors of people currently in the position (if possible) to understand their day-to-day activities, stress levels and get a better idea of what a performing person actually looks like in action. You may want to sit down with their supervisors or create an evaluation questionnaire for them to fill out.

3) Survey current people in the same position who have shown a lot of success. Have them answer questions about what they like the most in their job, the least, why they think they are successful and why, what they feel it takes to perform their duties, etc…

Conversely, reflect on those who left or who weren’t as successful. Why did they leave? What did they lack? Determine how wide a competency gap is perhaps too wide for someone to develop, etc… Understand your company turnovers.

4) With the help of AtmanCo, you can also have employees (in the same position within your organization) complete a psychometric assessment to determine the norm (or tendency) of that group in terms of personality and strengths. Once you identify the similar traits within this performing team, it is a lot easier to determine competencies attached to them. We sometimes refer to this as cloning your best employees in the recruitment process! Although it is important to note that our analysis does not solely depend on these norms. See other ways Atman can help in your selection process.

 
Building competency profiles (or skills profiles) begins by understanding what competencies consist of, determining what level of competencies you are looking to define, and preparing for an in-depth analysis of character traits, natural reflexes, and observable behaviors as well as comprehending your organizational reality through the responses to pertinent questions from existing employees in similar positions.

But you don’t have to do this alone! Let AtmanCo help you break down all these aspects and support you in this process!
The only question left to ask is…when do you want to start?!

Christine Chartrand

Holding a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Yorkville University, Christine Chartrand also obtained her bachelor's degree in human relations, with a minor in psychology. She acquired an excellent understanding of psychometric assessment and methods of research, in addition to developing skills to support individuals in their personal and professional journey.

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