Core competencies are measurable, on-the-job behaviors that an organization desires to implement within its workforce. These are critical behaviors required by every employee to help an organization achieve its mandate, vision and business goals.
The core competencies of an organization can help pinpoint the critical strengths and values that are shared by every individual within an organization (regardless of job title).
They help organizations define their vision and mission in measurable employee behaviors, improving everything from employee morale to profitability. The core competencies of an organization are also essential to the creation of a competency architecture.
E.g. Safety can be a core competency for a construction or electrical company.
E.g. Client Focus can be a core competency for an organization (if the company is invested in quality customer service or client service).
Below are examples of competencies that organizations (depending on their unique strengths or advantages) can use as one of their core competencies:
Selecting the right core competencies can help your organization to build a strong foundation which is essential to any successful talent management initiative.
Instead of trying to identify a variety of technical, leadership, behavioral and job-specific competencies, focus on your core competencies and transform them into growth opportunities. With a clear strategic initiative, your organization will be placed on a path of profitable growth and success.
If you are ready to define core competencies or improve the ones you have, then this next section is for you.
Now, let’s look at the 6 steps to selecting core competencies:
1. Begin with your Mission and Vision Statements
If you need to dust off the plaque on your wall to know what these are, take the time to rewrite them first.
Strong core competencies come from a clear perspective of where you plan to go. If you have written value statements, you should also review those now. You might find that these statements are replaced by your new core competencies.
I would recommend this replacement since people sometimes confuse the two terms.
2. Understand Your Business
It seems like a no-brainer but think about it. Do you really understand what your organization does? Do you how it functions and who does what within your organization?
There are several ways you can get this information including:
3. Draft Your Core Competencies
Brainstorming sessions, using surveys, drawings on whiteboards or town hall meetings. There are many ways for you to involve the right stakeholders in this important process.
The various stakeholders involved should include executives, key persons in your organization, valued customers and others that understand what it takes to deliver on what makes your organization stand out.
For example, you can call a town hall meeting to gather everyone’s feedback or a facilitated meeting with your senior executives to discuss which core competencies to select.
Sometimes it is difficult to see your core organizational competencies, except through other people’s eyes.
If necessary, consult your distributors and partners, talk to your clients, do web research and compare yourself against your competitors.
Remember, these competencies you select are meant to be unique to your organization.
Once you have identified your core organizational competencies then you can identify the core employee competencies that will drive your organization down the road to success.
Competency-based software can also help with this process. There are methods available to you and some of them might be more applicable to your organization than others.
4. Validate your Core Competencies
An easy way to fail is to only have 3 heads defining the core competencies for the whole organization.
Especially if you are in a people-driven business, you should receive feedback from every employee impacted by these core competencies.
As with the previous step, you might want to go outside your organization and hear from clients or end users.
Regardless, get feedback and incorporate it into your final version of core competencies.
5. Preach the Core Competencies
Is Critical Thinking one of your core competencies? Don’t keep it to yourself!
The next easiest way to fail is to leave your core competencies in a binder on a shelf to collect dust or hide them in a dark corner of your company website.
Take every opportunity to spread the word about your new core competencies and how they can be used in your organization.
You can get creative with this. Market your core competencies in a way that engages the entire organizational workforce and highlights its relevance to the organization. Publish them, use them in daily business life or even put posters up on the wall at your cafeteria.
For example, I once encountered an organization that had Safety as a core competency. Every meeting began with a safety tip, even those with contractors in the corporate office far from their production facilities.
6. Implement the Core Competencies
To ensure that your competencies are ironclad and provide tremendous value to your organization, it is critical to spend quality time at this step.
Your core competencies must be integrated into your daily business operations to truly make an impact in your organization.
This might mean having clients more involved in a planning process, including your core competencies in everyone’s performance evaluations and reorganizing a production line.
Set measurable objectives for your core competency implementation and report back on your progress to everyone in your organization. The more employees that are accountable, the better chance that actual change can occur.
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