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  • Tom Matthews

What Is Your Level Of Competence?

As leaders, it is important to understand the level of competencies for all of the staff at our company – including the leadership team.


The problem is we get frustrated with someone because:

… I told him how to do it, why won’t he just follow directions?

… She should have thought of that.

… As soon as they complete a job, they wait for me to tell them what to do next.


I know you say this because I hear it every day. The problem is either one of attitude or one of competency. It it’s an attitude problem, you need to get rid of that person. If it is a competency problem, you have to ask the question: can I train this person to meet the minimum competency requirement or will they always struggle?


The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has described 29 different competencies at any business separated into 6 categories:

  • Leading Change

  • Leading People

  • Results Driven

  • Business Acumen

  • Building Coalitions

  • Fundamental Competencies

As an example, the three competencies in Business Acumen are Financial Management, Human Capital Management and Technology Management.


Each person is assigned a proficiency level in each of these competencies. The report suggests there are 5 levels:

Level Definition

5 – Expert

  • Applies the competency in exceptionally difficult situations

  • Serves as a key resource and advises others

4 - Advanced

  • Applies the competency in considerably difficult situations

  • Generally requires little or no guidance

3 - Intermediate

  • Applies the competency in difficult situations

  • Requires occasional guidance

2 - Basic

  • Applies the competency in somewhat difficult situations

  • Requires frequent guidance

1 - Awareness

  • Applies the competency in the simplest situations

  • Requires close and extensive guidance

Here is the call to action to make your company more successful: each member of your leadership team should describe the competencies needed for all their direct reports. Please drop me a note and I will send you the complete report with all 29 competencies.


For example, a receptionist may be in the right spot if he or she is at Level 2 – Basic. But your controller has more challenges and, therefore, should be at Level 4 – Advanced.


The next step is you need to decide if your staff are at the minimum competency level. Use the Definition of each level to help you. Another test is how involved do you have to be in this person’s job? If the answer is a lot, they are probably not at the required competency level.


Will you be able to train staff to get to their minimum competency level or is it better to replace that person. If you are willing to train them, do you have a good training program?

The framework of this competency test is the science part. The art comes into play when deciding what level each position needs and evaluating the staff to see if they are at this level.


Done right, you can also use this process in hiring new staff. Call me if you would like to explore this a little more. Implementing this process will improve all operational and financial metrics in your company – including profits.

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