Five levels of competency
COMPETENCY MODELING contin-ues to be an area of interest and debatefor organizations. There is almostunanimous agreement that competencymodeling is one of the most criticalcomponents to running an efficient andeffective organization, but consensusends there. To simplify the approachto identifying and developing compe-tencies for his clients,Geoff Davidson of sales.org invited meand other colleagues to help him suc-cessfully isolate and order five levelsof learning that are representative of requisite competencies to perform agiven role or function. These levels,in sequence, are:
Identifying, defining, and applying theprinciples and core values to ensure thatdecisions and actions are focused ondoing
all the right things
, not simplydoing some things right.Principles are the touchstones of ourvalues. They represent who we believewe are, and how we want others to per-ceive us. Principles provide the neces-sary frame of reference to help us bal-ance conflicting motivations and pri-orities when making decisions on whatto do and how to act in different situa-tions. Some examples from organiza-tions with effective belief systems in-clude:
Respect LearningStewardship Quality Joy IntegrityCompassion Conservation
Skills represent intelligent applicationof knowledge, experience, and tools. Itis the knowledge and understanding of how to
do things right
to complete thetasks and achieve business or personalobjectives. A communications skill set,for instance, includes:
framing,sequencing,planning, listening, ques-tioning, presenting, responding, and closing.
Behaviours is the level for
doing theright things
, by converting under-standing into action and translatingknowledge into ability. Behaviour isalso where we tend most often to falterin our commitment to performance ex-cellence.There are thousands of examples of learning and development programsthat have been successful in transfer-ring knowledge and understanding of Principles and Skills, but have beenineffective in converting that knowl-edge into the desired Behaviours andresults.One of the most notable examples isthe number of programs on the risksand social issues surrounding tobacco.Society has succeeded in transferringthe knowledge and principles behindthe perils of cigarettes, but recent stud-ies have shown that more people arestarting, or returning to, smoking.These program are extremely success-ful, but clearly ineffective.As an aside, it is not because of alack of behavioural scripting, modelingor performance development. Theseprograms are failing to establish strongenough Principles to effectively drivethe correct actions and behaviours.Like many education programs, theanti-smoking campaign is struggling atthis first level, the need to create strongenough personal values and beliefs thatare required to change behaviours anddevelop sustainable competency.
The first three Levels establish effec-tive abilities to perform tasks, makedecisions, and take actions to achievedesired results. Process is the Levelthat provides a framework for manag-ing Principles, Skills and Behavioursmore efficiently. In short, Process ena-bles individuals to
do things the rightway.
In past articles I have defined thisprocess in the four stages of: Direction,Examination, Action, and Reassess-ment (DEAR). Process is a criticalcomponent of strong competency, as itprovides the milestones and check-points necessary to ensure that the bestchoices and actions are always beingtaken.DEAR is an approach we have de-veloped to re-map, into a single flow,the seemingly endless and conflictingsets of processes that people are facingtoday. Project Management, TotalQuality Management, Business Proc-ess Engineering, Audit & Control, Ob- ject Oriented Design, and Earned ValueManagement are just a few examplesthat can, if kept as separate require-ments, create conflict, confusion andfailures in creating and maintainingsuccessful competency based perform-ance models.