How To Evaluate Competency

Competency is defined as possessing the knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform a specific task.  Given this definition, evaluating competency in an individual or group should be based upon the tasks the person(s) in question are expected to perform. Competency in one area does not suggest competency in another area.

A president of an electronics company can potentially be successful when assuming the presidency of a furniture company because the competency qualifications for operating these two businesses are largely the same. A surgeon, regardless of how competent, would have difficulty in assuming the duties of a policeman because the qualifications for each occupation are radically different.

The competency level of an organization’s members is essential to its continued success and survival.  By averages, the competency levels of at least some key members at most organizations are unacceptable. However, even when an organization’s very survival is threatened the process of evaluating competency and making necessary adjustments is rarely even considered.

Evaluate competency level by assessing these factors:

  1. Historical Success Rate. Access the historical success rate of the subject with regard to achievement of past projects. Take into consideration any outside influences that may have had either a positive or negative bearing on the results.
  2. Managing Workload. The ability to assume new projects into the workload is a critical indicator of competency. Prioritizing the time and effort to be expended upon new projects relative to the demands of existing projects and deadlines is difficult for any manager.
  3. Problem Solving. A key evaluator of competency level is the ability to solve normal and unexpected problems while achieving project objectives.
  4. Working Relationships. This refers to the ability to function individually or as a group to successfully complete a project.  A degree of disharmonious interaction by the individual or within a group is acceptable, assuming that the negative results do not affect the success of the project or others within the organization.
  5. Organization. The subject must have the ability to organize the relative strengths and resources available to operate with maximum effectiveness and productivity to complete the project.
  6. Vision. The subjects understanding of the projects scope; the necessity of completing the project, the time line to do so, resources available and quality expectations of the results. The subject must be able to conceptualize a plan that will accomplish these goals.

Evaluating competency should occur before any promotion or job change within an organization, and on an annual basis thereafter.


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