Why it is time to develop a Competency Model for your business

Competency Model for your business

Competencies refer to a combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and other individual characteristics that can be reliably measured and that are shown to differentiate performance. The concern for performance in the workplace has triggered interest in discovering what sets apart best performers from their average counterparts. This has given rise to the body of knowledge on competency modelling.

The importance of developing a competency model for your organization is that it allows you to identify core, leadership and functional competencies required for your business to be competitive not only now but in the future. When linked to business goals, the result of competency profiles allows you to assess individuals against the competency profile.

A Competency model is developed through a process of clarifying the business strategy and determining competencies that are essential in driving your organisation towards the achievement of its strategic objectives. However, given future business needs, particularly in industries experiencing constant change it is important to consider the competencies your organisation will require in the future. A good competency model will inform your hiring and selection standards, key performance indicators and your organisation’s succession plan.

There are three levels of competencies you should consider as you go up the hierarchy, namely core competencies, functional competencies and role-specific competencies. Core competencies refer to an organisation’s defining strength and provide the foundation from which your business will grow, take advantage of new opportunities and deliver value to customers. A company’s core competencies can not be easily imitated by other organisations and core competencies contribute to creating a sustained competitive advantage for your organisation.

Functional competencies are linked to job roles and how they interact with other roles in the same job family. A group of jobs in a common field and with relatively similar work performed can have similar functional competencies. However, the required proficiency level becomes more complex as the position rises in the hierarchy.

Role-specific competencies refer to the technical knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for specific professional and technical roles. Technical competencies for a given position can be derived from domain-specific expertise an individual might possess. It is also important to be aware of the behavioural competencies needed for an incumbent to be successful in a specific role.

Behavioural competencies relate to the ability to manage, develop and maintain effective interaction with other colleagues in an organisational setting. Identifying behavioural competencies has been the subject of extensive research, and literature on the subject has emphasized competencies such as communication, teamwork, conscientiousness, and self-management (Bhardwaj and Punia 2013:71).

There are generally three approaches that you can use to create a competency model for your business. The three approaches used are the Values-Based Approach, Strategy-Based Approach, and Research-Based Approach. Firstly, the Values-Based Approach bases competencies directly upon an organisation’s norms and cultural values. The advantage of using this approach is that it reinforces your organisation’s values and it might have a motivating effect on organisations with a clan culture.

Secondly, the Strategy-Based Approach uses a forecast of competencies deemed to be strategically important based upon an anticipated future. The advantage of developing a competency model using this approach is that your competencies will be based upon the future needs of your business, not the past. Another advantage is that it focuses your staff on developing new skills and supports the organisational transformation efforts towards a desired future state.

Lastly, the Research-Based Approach is anchored on developing competencies based upon behavioural research on high-performance staff members. The advantage of this approach is that it is grounded in actual observable behaviour. Performance data is gathered through structured data collection instruments and validation surveys are then administered to ensure that the results address your specific business problem.


Once you have developed a competency model for your business it is important to always monitor if the model is still relevant to your business. A competency model cannot remain static as the business environment changes. With the rate of technological change, you need to constantly adjust your competency model to reflect the realities in your business environment. The tragedy is that most Zimbabwean businesses do not have a competency model to guide general behaviour and staff development. If you do not have a competency model to guide your staff, all staff development and performance improvement initiatives are unlikely to yield the last results for your business.

Carl Tapi is a Consulting Manager at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carl-tapi-45776482/ Phone +263 (242) 481946-48/481950 or email: carl@ipcconsultants.com or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

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