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Values and Competencies


Beliefs Values

Feelings Motives

Can a competency exist without value? Whether value can be a competency? How
do we differentiate? There was chain of discussion on the net and some concluding
points raised by the members are worth to note.

.......Though honesty cannot be measured, it doesn’t justify that it cannot be a


Honesty plays a major role in personal upbringing and personal character which
indirectly affects the performance of individual towards the company contribution.

Can we innovate or evolve a measurable competency where professional honesty &

integrity are the main contributors. I had seen many projects going to dogs because
of lack of these virtues.

Honesty is immeasurable. It cannot be quantified. Moreover, it is something that is

specific to a context if I may say so. ...There could be situation either personally or
professionally which could compel one to be dishonest to some extent if not to a
great degree.
I feel if one has all the skills which are acquirable but lacks honesty towards own
work, one might not achieve desired goal. I know honesty cannot be measured but
then that does not justify that it cannot be a competency....

With my limited knowledge and understanding to make it simple, I can say that
`values’ define what we are and ` Competencies’ demonstrate what we do. Values
are why we do or don’t do things. The growing definition of `competency’ from 70’s
is simplified nowadays to K, S, A (Knowledge, Skill and Attitude).

Knowledge is the knowhow and skill is the ability to apply that and perform an
activity. Attitude actually decides the outcome of knowledge+skill application. If all
the three combined results in an outstanding performance, that integration is
Competency. While the ‘knowledge+Skill’ part is observable simply and easily
assessable, attitude is the complex element. Attitude is the key.

Attitude is a mental state encompassing beliefs, feelings, motives and values

related to a way of thinking or being. Generally assessment of ‘attitude’ is not
expressed in varying degrees and is implied either negative or positive. Attitude
displays how one thinks (intellect), feels (mind/heart) and does (action/execution).
Our attitude invisibly springs up and is displayed as behaviour, in whatever situation
we are in. It is our response to a situation. The response could be an intellectual,
emotional or rational. It surfaces how we think, what we feel and what we do. How
we think and what we feel, mostly decides what we do. Attitudinal change is
possible when emotions are changed. If emotions depend on situations, intellect has
a role to play, as it discriminates and finds the right way to act, react or remain
action less.

Attitude is seen through behaviour. Behaviour is a visible action in a situation that is

released by attitude. Attitude is derivable and Behaviour is observable.

The persona ‘Attitude’, as we noted, is a state of individual beliefs, feelings and

motives. Beliefs and feelings are something to do with values. Values are beliefs
which are inextricably tied to emotions. Values come from the moral excellence,
righteousness; goodness and guide our choices, evaluation of actions, policies,
people, and events. Human Values are internally developed with virtues and Morals.
Virtues are personal inbuilt excellence of righteousness and goodness. Morals are
manifested from family, society and institutions. Motive is the part of emotions that
sprigs up as a desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an
incitement to action.

So, the `Attitude’ is a result of holistic integration of beliefs - feelings, values-virtues,

and morals-ethics.
With this background if we look at the definition of `Competency’ and deeply
understand the roots and intricacies of ‘Attitude’, there are no `Competencies’
without `Values’. The western way of defining Competency has considered ‘Values’
as an integral part of Competencies.

McClelland's definition of Competency is more behaviour-oriented. He defines a

competency as any characteristic of a person that differentiates levels of
performance in a job. Spenser and Spenser, in their seminal Book (Competence at
Work) look at Competencies as `underlying characteristics’. They define
competencies as underlying characteristics of people that indicate ‘ ways of
behaving or thinking, generalising across situations, and enduring for a reasonably
long period of time’. They define `Self Concept’ (an element of Competency) as a
person’s values or self image.

Stephen Covey, in his 8th Habit, separates values from competencies when he
defines Trust Worthiness comes from Character and Competence. Personal
Character and Values are the terms and aspects used from centuries while
‘competency-competence’ came into usage from 1970 onwards. A firm line of
separation is difficult to draw between competency and values and what we need
today is ‘Values Based Competencies’. This terminology brings in more clarity for
practicing competency based people programs especially in a business scenario. If
we say that values are part of competencies, it is taken for granted and not
highlighted in terms of development and assessment. That may be the reason for
organisations to define their values separately along with Mission and Vision
statements. If we look at most of the F500 companies they have defined their values
besides having their own competency models in place.

In an organisational context, the` behaviours’ that are required to be displayed can

be developed only when such behaviours are recognised and rewarded. If a
question comes as to how values and behaviours are to be assessed along with
competencies, the way many organisations have found is to assess those
separately. Values are assessed though 360 degree feedback. Competencies are
assessed as part of performance evaluation, to know that which competencies were
displayed in achieving the goals and how one has learnt a competency which was
identified for development jointly, before the performance year.

Though values are important for all organisations, they are very critical for some and
if it is not displayed, such organisations or concerned people are removed, since the
impact is instant and effect is visible. For such reasons, specific values are defined as
competencies by some organisations.

To summarise, extending the definition of McClelland, values are part of the

‘underlying characteristic’ of an individual that is causally related to referenced
criterion of superior performance. A winning attitude brings out the right behaviour.
Behaviour is causally related to performance. Behaviour is the base of ‘Action
triangle’ with performance and results as its slant heights. Competency predicts who
does the job well. Who is the best communicator? Who makes quality decisions in a
time of crisis? Who can successfully carry out multi-tasking? The answers are the
criterion referenced to superior performance. The challenge is to identify these
‘thoughts’ and ‘behaviours’ that predict superior performance without setting ‘Values’
aside. Every organisation must ensure that values are lived and demonstrated
beyond the framed display on corporate walls. Values can be defined with
behavioural indicators like we define competencies. The assessment of values comes
from perception of 'assessors/raters' of an individual, through a 360 degree feedback
system. What organisations do with that feed back becomes an important factor to
establish, practice, develop and sustain human values in business.