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Top 5 Competency Mistakes: How Best to Determine the Competencies for your Organization

September 20, 2011
Did you know that every pro football team has a common language that only the players and coaching staff understand? The language consists of key terms and hand signals that allow the players to immediately understand one another, even when they are in the middle of 70,000 screaming fans trying frantically to get another play off because time is running out. Similarly, competencies serve the same critical role for organizations.

Competencies are the core knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivations required for success at each level in your company. When defined correctly, they can become the centraldriving language for all of your HR programs.
Tom Brady from the New England Patriots is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL because he avoids mistakes. As you establish your competencies, be sure to avoid the following common competency mistakes:

how to decide competencies chart
  1. Too Many Levels 

    Organizations, regardless of size, should have no more than eight competency profiles.

  2. Too Many Competencies

    Long competency lists are impractical. As a rule of thumb, go with six to nine competencies for lower-level positions, nine to twelve for mid-level, and twelve to fifteen for executive-level.

  3. Run On Competencies

    One competency title containing multiple competency definitions is unusable. Do not jam multiple competencies into one paragraph. Keep them simple and short.

  4. Synonym Competencies

    Different competency names and definitions that mean the same thing are redundant and confusing. Example: Visionary Leadership, Strategic Leadership, and Transformational Leadership. You only need one of them.

  5. Illogical Competency Groupings

    Competency profiles that do not logically build from level to level make career planning difficult.

4 Competencies to Focus on When Hiring or Promoting Leaders

Kevin Klinvex Kevin Klinvex was a founding partner of Select International, acquired by PSI. He is a thought leader in organization-wide hiring and retention programs. His work focused on combining powerful testing and assessment tools with the best in web-based delivery and data tracking. Kevin co-authored the best-selling book, Hiring Great People.