Competence is the ability to do a good job. Competence is fully satisfactory performance. An organization will define what is meant by fully satisfactory performance. For example, for most jobs it means being able to perform job tasks independently to the required level of quality, quantity, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, safety or outcomes.
In relation to Alberta Occupational Health and Safety;
Competent in relation to a person, means adequately qualified, suitably trained and with sufficient experience to safely perform work without supervision or with only a minimal degree of supervision.
For some positions, the organization may define fully satisfactory performance at lower or higher levels. For example, it may be acceptable for a new employee undergoing training to perform some tasks at a lower level and guided by a supervisor or trainer. Organizations may designate higher performance standards for certain employees. For example, a team leader may be expected to perform job tasks independently and also troubleshoot unusual situations.
KG Safety Services can help define what competency means to your organization by:
- Development of competency requirements for jobs in the organization. Competency maps define the required general areas of competence and the specific skills, knowledge, abilities and behaviors of a job.
- Setting the performance standards required by the organization.
- Implementing training programs to meet identified requirements
- Developing competency testing programs
- Preforming site task observations and interview facilitation
- Creating and maintaining records
Why Competence Based Training Programs?
Competency profiles assist in effective learning and development by identifying the behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are necessary for successful performance in a job. Employees can assess their competencies against those required for their own job, or for another job in which they are interested, and then take steps to acquire or improve any necessary competencies.
Competencies support learning by:
- Focusing learning on the critical competencies needed for success in the job and organization
- Providing standards for measuring employee performance and capabilities
- Providing the framework for identifying learning options/curriculum/programs to meet employee and organizational needs
- Facilitating effective forecasting of organizational as well as project-related learning requirements
- Providing standards for determining how well learning has occurred, both at the individual and organizational level through:
Evaluation of employee competency is based on self-assessment, prior learning assessment and an ongoing assessment of the subject matter specific to their job by an expert in that subject matter (i.e. Supervisor). Together, all of the assessments are evaluated to create a Final Cumulative Assessment of the employee. Training needs identified by the competency assessment process can be fulfilled with remediation through instructor led seminars and training. These seminars or classes can address industry-related training as well as other workplace skills, such as communication, computer literacy and interpersonal relations.
Utilizing Competency-Based Training and Assessment Approaches
Competency-based training helps to bridge the gap between what is taught in training and what tasks will be performed on the job. Training employees to perform actual job functions helps to ensure that front-line workers have the skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform their jobs properly, safely and effectively. In addition to competency-based training, assessment based on the performance of actual work competencies helps to ensure that employees are performing their work tasks as safely as possible; that performance gaps are recognized prior to serious incidents; and that training can be implemented to improve competency.
- Acquire or develop competency profiles for key occupational groups
Competency profiles outline the skills, knowledge and abilities required for staff to perform their jobs safely, effectively and properly. Having a competency profile for each occupational group, job or key area can aid in the identification of training needs. Competency profiles can then form the basis of other human resource strategies, including job descriptions, performance assessments, and ultimately training program development. Competency profiles can be developed in a number of ways; however, one of the most effective techniques is the DACUM method (Developing a Curriculum). To develop a competency profile, a group of eight to ten current employees, lead by a KG Safety Services facilitator, create a mutually agreed upon set of skills, knowledge and abilities that would describe a competent worker.
- Acquire or develop competency-based training programs
Competency-based training focuses on teaching the skills, knowledge and abilities required by job incumbents. Emphasis is often placed on the performance of a skill to ensure mastery prior to the learning of subsequent skills. Competency or Skills Profiles, as mentioned above, form the foundation for the development of competency-based training by identifying exactly what a job incumbent will be expected to do once in the field. The development of learning guides/modules that correspond with a specific work task or skill (or cluster of similar work tasks) identified within the competency profile is an effective tool used in competency-based training. Learning guides or modules allow learners the opportunity to acquire the skills for effective task performance at their own pace. Modules are typically comprised of information about the task, practice exercises, practice quizzes and performance assessments that function as good prerequisites and follow-up information to the in-class training.
- Assess workers’ competence in the performance of work-related tasks
The development of competency profiles provides a foundation on which a competency assessment of workers can be performed. From this assessment, specific areas for which workers require additional training and development can be identified. Through the identification of distinct training needs based on performance assessment, the training function can be streamlined to ensure that workers are receiving the guidance that they require for competent job performance, rather than having a whole group of workers attend training that perhaps only half of the group truly requires.
- Assess Training Needs
The most effective training is that which meets a performance need or gap within an organization. With training being costly in terms of the monetary and human resource needs, it is only logical that organizations would conduct training analyses to identify training needs prior to investing time and money into developing training programs and materials that are not reflective of actual need. Effective training analysis help an organization to answer key questions about their internal training function, including: who requires the training; what training is needed; when training is required; where the training will be conducted; and how will the training will be delivered. Identifying competencies for specific roles and reflecting those competencies in employee performance assessments helps feed an effective training analysis. Using sound methodologies and processes to obtain feedback from workers in the field provides direct insights into perceived performance gaps among workers and to ensure that the training that is developed for an organization addresses needs in the field.It is important to note than an effective training analysis considers not only identified areas of opportunity in employee development, but also considers the broader organizational goals and direction. Taking into account the current and future needs of the organization and ensuring job competencies are aligned with organizational goals is crucial. It should also be noted that training is not always the best way to try to close a particular gap between an organization’s goals and its actual performance. Those conducting the needs analysis must get a clear idea of the problem, look at all possible remedies and report on their findings to management before deciding on the best solution.
- Prioritize training needs
A common mistake that can be made when developing and delivering training is a focus on quantity, rather than quality; that is, trying to cover as many topic areas of needs as possible, often at the expense of quality and depth of learning.The results of a training-needs analysis may uncover a number of training gaps and areas that require attention. However, attempting to immediately address all of the identified gaps and needs can result in an ineffective use of time and resources that would be better spent if allocated in a more targeted way. Having a clear indication of the range of training needs within the organization informs the foundation of a training strategy. Prioritizing training needs and gaps to identify which areas require immediate attention allows for a more effective dedication of training resources and time.The prioritization of training can be accomplished by convening a training committee comprised of a KG Safety Services facilitator and all organizational stakeholders. To prioritize training needs, various factors need to be considered, including the effect that poor performance has on the safety of employees, productivity and efficiency. In other words, determining which needs pose the most risk to the employees and organization if not addressed immediately.