Competence Development: What It Is, Benefits, & Tips
Do you want to take your business to the next level? Do you want to attract highly capable individuals to your organization? Do you want to future-proof your business and gain an understanding of exactly what your organization needs to be successful and efficient? Competence development might just be what you’re looking for.
But what is it? Why does it matter? And what can you do to improve it?
What is competence development?
Before delving into the ins and outs of competence development, it’s important to understand what competencies are. Not to be confused with skills, competencies can be defined as the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that lead to the ability to do something successfully.
Competence development, then, is the process of developing certain competencies in a specific direction to achieve a desired outcome. Employees need certain competencies to be successful and efficient in a specific role. Competence development helps to enhance those competencies and, in turn, enhances overall business strategy.
Why should you care about competence development?
It would be wise for any organization to aim to upgrade the skill set of its workforce to achieve wider business goals. However, many organizations overlook the key competencies required by their employees. Ultimately, these key competencies are what make your business thrive (or not!).
Competence development offers many benefits for both employees and organizations. So it’s well worth taking time to think about competencies in detail and set out a competence development overview for your business.
Four of the key benefits of investing in competence development are that it enables you to:
1. Be prepared for the future
People move on. People retire. People get promoted. Plan for these eventualities by preparing your workforce to take on leadership roles when they become available. If you know what competencies are required, you can ensure that your employees are on the right career development path.
Individuals can work on developing the competencies they require to succeed at the job they do now, as well as the job they may do in the future. This not only supports the seamless running of your organization but will ensure employees feel valued and, therefore, encourage them to be more productive and committed to your organization.
Employee turnover is inevitable, but it’s also important to prepare for the unexpected. Who would have predicted that a global pandemic would come along and completely transform the way we work? With many of us working remotely all or some of the time, hybrid meetings are becoming common in many organizations.
Do you need your employees to be confident leading a web conference, for example? Does your competence development strategy account for this and other advances in the way we work? If not, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the key competencies required to future-proof your organization.
2. Attract the right candidates
Having a sound understanding of the competencies required by your employees will allow you to understand what you need from possible candidates joining your organization. Your competence development strategy can and should form part of your employee experience roadmap – a highly beneficial tool that begins at the application stage.
A strong competence development framework will also attract candidates to your business. With many professionals looking for opportunities to develop their career, they’ll be asking about what you can offer them in terms of training and development opportunities.
Remember the previous point about preparing for the future? Think about the competencies you require to take your business forward. What will your business look like in five or ten years’ time? Digital literacy is, and will continue to be, a huge necessity for candidates.
If your candidate is unaware of how to navigate live video calling software, are they really the right candidate for the job?
3. Improve employee retention
A good competence development program will not only attract the right people into your organization but will encourage current employees to stay. Employees can be demanding.
As well as the obvious – payment – employees are often looking for career progression, opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills, and a comprehensive employee training program. If you’re not able to offer this, they’ll take their knowledge and skills elsewhere.
On the other hand, a clear competence development program that has a clear progression will ensure employees can upskill their professional capabilities and see a clear path for their career development.
Ambitious employees will thrive on this and dedicate themselves to your business if they feel valued and excited about their career prospects.
Give your employees what they really want, such as making them feel satisfied and valued, and they’ll be more dedicated, motivated, and productive.
If you want to improve employee retention, it’s important to invest in them and their capabilities.
4. Improve overall business outcomes
Guess what? If your employees are more motivated, dedicated, and productive, their output improves too. Whether you provide goods or services, happy and fulfilled employees will perform better and therefore have a knock-on effect on the product or service they produce.
Furthermore, a competence development framework allows managers to monitor performance in a clear and direct way. A competence development framework could be used to support employees who aren’t performing well and therefore improve their performance over time.
It makes sense to invest in competence development to improve business outcomes overall.
Tips to improve competence development in your organization
So, you get it – competence development is important! You understand the benefits of competence development – but where do you start?
Below are five steps you can follow to improve competence development in your organization:
Step 1 – Do your research
Think carefully about the competencies involved in the day-to-day running of your business, as well as the strategic vision. You’ll also want to ensure that your company values are at the forefront of employees’ minds and underpin their everyday duties.
For example, it may be useful to look for ethical culture examples while also completing an assessment of employee duties and competencies.
Get employees involved in the process. Ask them to identify the key competencies required in their current role. Ask them which competencies they’d like to improve. Which competencies do they need to work on to progress in their career?
Step 2 – Analyze and organize the data
Once you’ve gathered the information you need, it’s time to analyze and organize it. Have employees in the same or similar roles identified similar competencies? Are there any missing that you’d like to add in? Again, involving employees in this process will be beneficial.
Organize the competencies in a way that works for your business model. Once the key competencies for each role have been identified, employees may be asked to rate themselves on each one. This then creates a clear plan for professional development as well as allowing managers to see where strengths and areas for development lie across the workforce.
Step 3 – Create a framework for competence development
It’s important to make your competence development visual. Create a framework and make sure all employees are aware of it and how to access it. The framework needs to consist of the core competencies that form the basis of the running of your organization.
It may be a multi-level framework where there are certain competencies that all employees must demonstrate, as well as more specific competencies for particular roles.
Step 4 – Implement it
Now you have the framework in place – use it! Embed your competence development framework into everything you do. Ensure all employees are educated on what the framework is, how to use it, and how it will benefit them. Examples of ways you can incorporate the framework easily are:
- Recruitment processes
- Onboarding processes
- Professional development reviews
Ensure employees are aware of the competencies they’re developing and what their next steps are. These should be reviewed regularly and make up part of your performance reviews.
Step 5 – Evaluate it
Make time to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of your competence development framework. Ask your employees for feedback. If this is something completely new to your business, don’t wait too long before gathering feedback.
You’ll want to iron out any teething problems early on to ensure you can get it right. You don’t want to be a year down the line and find out your employees don’t know what the competence development framework is or how to use it!
The framework should be flexible and allow for modification dependent on employee feedback and industry changes. You may find that it will change over time or that certain competencies need to be added or refined.
How will your competence development framework transform your business?
If you invest time into creating an effective competence development framework and ensure all employees are on board, you’re guaranteed to see results. You’ll see higher levels of job satisfaction and higher employee retention, and you’ll attract the candidates you need to take your organization to the next level.
Because of this, business outcomes will improve, and you’ll have a sound understanding of what makes your organization thrive. If you want to improve business outcomes – improving competence development might just be the missing piece of your puzzle.
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