Competency profiling identifies the skills required for effectiveness in a job role, an essential step before assessing candidates to fill a position. The name "competency profiling" is not as fashionable as it used to be but we still need to identify some sort of success criteria for jobs.

Using Competency Profiles

Useful for fairly static roles or environments that are not changing rapidly.

It is not enough to look at past effectiveness in rapidly changing markets.

Rapid change often means starting with a blank sheet of paper.

New strategies require new skills for future success

Role overlap and ambiguity require less directly role related competency profiles.

As organizations strive to be more entrepreneurial, uncritical application of competency profiling should be questioned.

Entrepreneurial organizations may want staff to create their own form of contribution.

An new trend may be to see competency profiling as overly controlling and static - best limited to less dynamic roles.

The result may be less certainty about how to predict what type of person will be effective in a role.

Still, the assessment of candidates presupposes having some idea about what is required for success in the target role.

And businesses expect so much of managers now that they can ill afford to take a chance on choosing the wrong person.

Competencies like the ability to cope with ambiguity, to take initiative in uncertain situations and to cope with stress are becoming more important.

These competencies relate to emotional intelligence - the ability to retain control of yourself under pressures of various sorts - whether time pressure, excess workload, fast shifting expectations, angry colleagues, or the stress of ambiguity.

Two employee roles

Organizations tend to want all employees to fit one competency profile.

Even though there is recognition that people have different strengths.

And that teams are best composed of complementary strengths.

In addition, it is important to recognize that all organizations need, broadly speaking, two types of people for two quite different types of role.

This corresponds to the two broad tasks facing all organizations.

To discover and initiate new directions through innovation and leadership.

To execute existing directions as efficiently or profitably as possible.

This is contrary to the popular view that organizations are moving inexorably from a managerial to a leadership culture, as if the former were no longer needed.

But, we need both - leaders to create the new and managers to achieve today's results.

Leaders need to be entrepreneurial, willing to challenge the status quo, cast aside the familiar, take risks and constantly re-invent ''how things are done around here.''

By contrast, managers need to maximize efficiency, consistency and predictability.

HR professionals need to enable organizations to develop and live with this split personality, ensuring that people are in the right role - leadership or managerial.

If you like to get things done efficiently, in a timely manner with a minimum of waste, the task of execution might best suite you. Conversely, if you prefer to start new things, think creatively, promote new ways of doing things, then you may be best suited to the role of inventing the future.

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