‘Staff member who is a technical expert but a relationship dunce’ – was the title of the post on the Linked In site of Human Resource Institute of NZ group this week. The problem – someone who is technically competent in their work but no-one wants to work with them. It was a subject that resonated with many people – there were a flood of responses.
So what does it take to be competent in your job? Is it enough to be technically skilled to be competent; or are relationship skills required?
What is Job Competence?
Competency is the combination of skills, knowledge, attitudes, values and abilities which underpin effective and/or superior performance. In other words, it’s not enough to simply turn up to work and get the job done. Competency requires a higher level of performance.
It can also change over time. Keeping up to date with new knowledge or skills is needed to maintain competency.
The level of competency required for various roles or professions are significantly different: think of a scientist compared to a store sales person. Some trades or professions are legally obliged to maintain competency such as builders, health professionals, chartered accountants in order to maintain their industry accreditation.
Competence is composed of five key components:
- Knowledge: having enough information to understand and conceptualise the range of issues we can expect to encounter. Knowledge changes over time as new replaces old, some knowledge remains relevant while new knowledge takes time to be validated.
- Skill: is the ability to effectively apply the knowledge in actual practice. Skill is developed through experience.
- Judgement: involves knowing when to apply which skills under which circumstances. Self-reflection of our own values, attitudes and experiences is required.
- Diligence: involves consistently attending to knowledge, skill and judgement. The willingness to work hard and use self-awareness is crucial.
- Performance: is what you see; it is the output measure of competence.
So, is it enough to be technically good at your job and not be able to relate well with others? A resounding NO. Being competent means having the interpersonal skills to self-reflect, be aware of areas of weakness and work on improving them. The degree of relationship skills needed will differ according to the role and work environment.
The good news is that people can learn new skills where they are given the opportunity and environment to grow and develop.
So here’s the challenge: think of the people in your workplace. How many would you describe as competent?
Posted by Julie Varney,