If you’re like me, you’ve had both great managers and then those who were, well, let’s just say, not so great. As an HR professional, you know that just because an employee is skilled in their field and has the most seniority in their department, it does not necessarily mean that they will succeed in an adjacent role. It takes an employee with a specific set of skills, knowledge, and behaviors to excel at certain jobs. But what is it that makes some employees excel in a position while others do not?
Let’s look at the job of manger once again and think about what separates a good manager from the bad. It’s likely that both would be skilled in their respected field, but a great manager would also possess the ability to motivate their employees, delegate tasks, employ patience, and possess strong communication skills. It isn’t enough that an employee retains the skills and knowledge necessary for the job; they must also exhibit certain behaviors, or abilities, to succeed at the job. This combination of skills + knowledge + behavior, in a measurable format, is often referred to as competencies. Skills are a very important part of a job description and can give managers, employees, and candidates a good idea of what is expected of them on a daily basis. But competencies give employees and candidates a clearer picture of performance expectations and what they need to succeed in the job. They also give you a more efficient way to evaluate job applicants and increase the chance of hiring the right person for the job. Competencies are the “secret sauce” that separates a capable employee from a successful employee.
To determine if a competency is necessary for a specific job, ask yourself these questions:
- How important is that competency to the success of the employee in that position, coworkers, and the organization as a whole? And would the absence of that competency result in negative consequences?
- Does the competency further the mission and goals of the company?
- Is the competency essential in performing the responsibilities of the job?
- And at what proficiency level (entry, novice, mid, experienced, senior, expert) should the employee perform the competency at in order to be successful?
Including competencies in your job descriptions is a great way to define what attributes are needed to perform the job effectively and can be invaluable when recruiting or evaluating employee performance. So the next time you edit a job description, ask yourself, are you providing enough information for the job-holder to be successful in the position, or just adequate? If you’re expecting employees to excel, then give them the tools necessary to achieve that goal.