Saturday, March 31, 2012

Competency Mapping

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Competencies are the set of knowledge, skills and behaviour attributes which are required to perform effectively in a particular job position. They are demonstrated capabilities and behavioural manifestations that are known to lead to success more often then not. Competency could also be defined as behaviour (i.e. communication, leadership) rather than a skill or ability.

A competency map is an assessment tool that outlines the skills and behaviours required to succeed as a manager and/or leader. Most importantly, it is a vehicle by which sponsors and team members are able to help focus and support a participants learning process. It identifies key competencies for an organisation and/or a job and incorporates those competencies throughout the various processes (i.e. job evaluation, training, recruitment) of the organisation. It is the process by which the required competency levels for any specific role or position in the business are defined.

Competency mapping, as a concept is relatively new to the Indian organisational environment, but due to the effectiveness of the concept, it is emerging very fast as a regular Human resource management practice.

Help with essay on Competency Mapping

Competency Mapping... Why?

The competency mapping process is designed to arrive at attributes (inherent personal traits), and competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities required in a job), unique to the client organisation. Once a competency map is developed and validated, it can be used to recruit and select, manage, evaluate and develop people for the roles arrived at through the organisation design process. It also can be used in compensation management and succession planning.

Typically, the process requires specification determination, which results in firming up the attributes and competencies required for each role in the organisation. A preliminary project plan is developed and appropriate activities and communication plans are established to support the development of the maps. Employees are given the opportunity to review the maps to ensure they meet current and future needs. Competencies and attributes are evaluated to assess how accurately they describe performance requirements, and to ensure they are aligned with the strategic business objectives.

A critical requirement for any business, team and individual is mapping the competencies required to meet objectives at all three levels - business, team and self. Only by doing this can needs be identified in the areas of recruitment, career planning and training.

Competency mapping also helps in identifying needs for training, and in delivering that training to the individuals who need it. The key process is the development of a gap analysis - in simple terms, the difference between the required competency level and an individuals present level.

So, Competency Mapping is important for an organisation and becomes a base for creating a performance-based culture, increasing the accuracy in selection, placements & in talent maximisation.

Competency Mapping For Whom

It is best used by trainers, change agents and managers who are involved, or likely to be involved, in identifying and using competencies as part of 60° feedback, appraisals and performance management systems.

Identifying competencies is the basis for HR planning. It provides the framework for individual training and development, career planning and training needs analysis.

Competency Mapping The Process

Knowledge, skills and behavioural attributes required at all levels and job positions are identified they are grouped in asset of competencies. A clear and simple measurement scale is established. All associates and mangers are mapped against the pre-determined set of competencies by a panel of trained people.

The steps involved in competency mapping with an end result of job evaluation include the following

1) Conduct a job analysis by asking incumbents to complete a position information questionnaire (PIQ). This can be provided for incumbents to complete, or one-on-one interviews can be conducted using the PIQ as a guide. The primary goal is to gather from incumbents what they feel are the key behaviours necessary to perform their respective jobs.

) Using the results of the job analysis, one is ready to develop a competency based job description. This can be developed after carefully analysing the input from the represented group of incumbents and converting it to standard competencies.

) With a competency based job description, one is on his way to begin mapping the competencies throughout the human resources processes. The competencies of the respective job description become the factors for assessment on the performance evaluation. Using competencies helps to guide one to perform more objective evaluations based on displayed or not displayed behaviours.

4) Taking the competency mapping one step further, one can use the results of the evaluation to identify in what competencies individuals need additional development or training. This will help him to focus the training needs on the goals of the position and company and help the employees develop towards the ultimate success of the organisation.


· Determination of technical, behavioural, and managerial traits required for individual success.

· Providing accurate specifications for recruitment and staffing.

· Providing a basis for consistently measuring performance as related to the business objectives.

· Reinforcing the critical elements of the organisation’s business strategy.

· Links training and development to competencies

· Give individual feedback on a profile

Staff Appraisal

“The number one American management problem. It takes the average employee (manager or non-manager) six months to recover from it”

(Peters, 18; p. 45)


Corporate bodies, large and small, continue to invest considerable management time, energy and resources into appraisal schemes. Most large businesses have them. Even without a formal scheme, judgements are still made about employees and fellow workers. Decisions - benign, beneficial or insidious - about continuity of employment, promotion, reward opportunities, redundancy, inclusion/exclusion from decision-circles etc. are made on the basis of these.

Staff appraisal is better called performance and development review. The purposes of this review are generally stated as

· to assess performance over the review period and examine the scope for improvement to current performance

· to assess training & development needs

· to set performance objectives relating employee development objectives to unit objectives

· to support career planning and progression discussions

· (for probationers) to make retention decisions

· to discuss the potential for promotability and job change

· to assess/review rewards and motivation

It usually takes place between the employee and whoever he/she is responsible and accountable to - generally their direct line manager. The emphasis is on the organisation (through the manager) talking to each member of staff - as an individual. Each manager, in essence, has to give time and attention to each member of staff he/she is responsible for.

Concern For Competence

Competence-based appraisal involves managers defining required elements of competence for the job or group of jobs. An employing organisation, as part of its review of mission and declaration of what it does best (its core competencies - after Peters and Waterman), may define generic core competencies that the firm wants to see all organisational members displaying and striving towards. Staff appraisal schemes based on such cultural imperatives, tend to generalise on the competence statements as these must cover widely different jobs e.g. all jobs or those in an IT or marketing function. We can also find instances where schemes incorporate flexibility - enabling the appraiser at least to state the extent to which the competence is relevant to the job.

The design of such staff appraisal schemes reveals how managers, and human resource managers, in particular seek to determine required behaviour in the organisation. The schemes present and circulate organisational values against which the behaviour of employees can be monitored in ways that are considered objective (objectivised) but which in essence are subjective, unilateral and managerial.

Competence � The Ingredients

So those who define generic or specific competencies for all staff, or a staff category e.g. technicians, supervisors, sales assistants, generalise when formulating the set of statements. We can try various methods of obtaining consensus view from a representative group of what the competencies and required standards are (a synthesis of a group view). These must adequately reflect the target jobs. We end up with abstract wording so that the definition can be applied across the different job situations.

Relevant or not relevant to my job

The device of asking the appraiser and appraisee to rate or weight the importance of particular competencies in the job is also often used. Clearly some competencies may be more or less important in some jobs than others. This device reflects an acceptance that at the individual and job level - flexibility of interpretation is needed or else the general statements will not satisfy the parties. The competence (or objectives/target) descriptions will out of line with what the job is really like bringing a lack of credibility to the scheme itself.

The range of situations

It is important to note also the contexts (typical situations) in which the behaviours and actions occur e.g. under pressure, in front of customers, in the early hours of the morning, under situations of high or low risk, staff shortage or where the person has just started the new job.

The problem of decomposition of competencies

In our search for the semblance of scientific accuracy and objectivity, we can divide and divide the elements of a job. As we atomise, our statements of a particular behaviour will overlap. The sub-components become too numerous to handle by people - appraiser and appraisee who will make subjective judgements anyway and be variable and fallible, as we know people are in doing so.

The skills and understandings involved in taking one action will be generic to many other actions. Can the generic skills of reading, writing, talking, listening, adding up, smiling, remaining calm - all be assumed for a task or would we include these in our competence definitions? Perhaps we can have a separate category of generic, transferable skills.

This quickly becomes a voluminous, nit picking, and specify-until-you-are-blue-in-the face approach. For those who persist with it. The knack in specifying competencies is to identify actions that are significant and representative of the key tasks of the job.

At a high level we may be able to define an elegant, sublimely apposite statement of a complex competence. If we persist in decomposition we can drill down to a ridiculous level and for a simple job have many pages of competence statements. At some point, we must stop decomposing because we are going too far - into too much detail. Yet - some low level but high risk tasks may be important enough to define as, in doing so, we articulate the standard and/or the method that must be used to complete and control it.

Can elements of competence include

A trait?

A quality that a person has, such as a trait of

· Stoicism - making virtue the highest good with control over the passions and indifference to pleasure and pain or

· Efficaciousness - desirous of producing results, being in control of future and fate. When encountering a problem, taking an initiative to resolve it, rather than wait for others to do it.

A motive?

· Drives or impulses related to a particular goal, such as an achievement need to improve and compete against a standard of excellence. The motivated condition and behaviour would be the trait.

A skill?

Ability to demonstrate a set of functional behaviours - innate or learnt- related to attaining a performance goal. It requires the sequenced ability to identify conditions and actions, which relate to and have the capacity to resolve a specific problem (objective). It also involves being able to identify potential obstacles and accessing sources of know-how in overcoming them. The skill can be generic to different situations. The ability just to change the sparking plugs is an ability only to perform that action.

A persons self-image?

Does competence have anything to do with confidence and willingness - the understanding we have of ourselves and an assessment of where we stand e.g. given the values held dear in our environment. For example I am creative and innovative. I am expressive and I care about others. (All traits) In a job requiring routine work and self-discipline, these statements might be evaluated by the subject as I am creative and innovative but too expressive - I open my mouth too much and it gets me into trouble. I care about others but give myself to them so much that others say I lack a degree of self-discipline.

A persons social role?

How do competencies relate to ones perception of accepted and expected social norms and behaviours that the person needs to adopt in order to fit in to a group or power setting. It may be that the role setting requires the person e.g. a member of a respected professional association to demonstrate deep understanding and ability to manipulate a body of knowledge.

If the above possibilities are representative of how competencies may be defined then

· Which are learnt? How are they learnt? How can they be nurtured/developed?

· How are the modified once learnt and when situations change?

· How can they be measured? Some but not all? Should they be measured and what are the problems of measurement?

Current competence vs. development

A major criticism of competence appraisal is that only current skills and abilities are being considered with the assumption of competent at a level. The person is ticked off against a checklist. They can either demonstrate (present evidence) that they can perform as illustrated by the statements of competence or not.

The competence appraisal is thus backward looking at historical data. This must be current and sufficient to cover the number of aspects of competence being considered and of a type that is at the right level of complexity etc (this brings its own problems in that a historical account is difficult to narrate in terms of all the situational variables). The assessor has to be able to say, but this account is not enough for me to be able to judge whether you really can do it or not.

Furthermore, if the competence can be demonstrated it is a competence of now and of yesterday. I may lapse in the future through lack of practice or interest. My scope for future development and my progress in walking this path are not considered. I more on to another job - then apart from my transferable skills (accreditation of prior learning (certificated or experience based), I may have to present myself for a test of competence relating to the new job.

60° Appraisal

The sales and marketing aim is to canvas the extent to which the customer is delighted (or otherwise) by the quality of service they receive and thus how they perceive the supplier. All in all the survey is a quality assurance device. The supplier is continuously confronted with customer experience, expectations and concerns. Interest in such feedback has developed into a mechanism to formally gather and return appraisal feedback (hence 60° appraisal) from employees and other stakeholders to managers themselves. Basically, the feedback messages relate to how well we see you managing us and what we think about it.

Thus 60° appraisal ideas take staff appraisal one step further. Rather than primarily focusing one-to-one between supervisor and employee, the emphasis is on a full circle survey. The appraisal (survey feedback) formally requires stakeholders, team members, customers - all those who interface with the processes of performance - to give their assessment. The purpose is, underpinned by a belief that benefits arise from such quality analysis and that managers should receive direct data from upward and lateral sources on their performance. This open feedback (opinions of others), it is argued will highlight how he/she is perceived in terms of performance in the role. So the spotlight is on the manager - and (the proposition) only good can come of it.

Of course, in a more general sense, the survey feedback can be on the teams performance - as seen by other teams plus internal and external clients. It can be on the organisation as a whole or just one function - say - the accounts department. This is general survey feedback. 60° appraisal tends to focus on feedback

· To individual managers or team leaders. Feedback from the powerless to the powerful - who may seldom receive such direct feedback.

· The messages may offer surprises that the receiver may find it difficult to come to terms with so there is potential for anxiety.

· The messages (anonymous?) may breach the normal, personally protecting protocols of politeness, reserve and deference for authority. There may be uncomplimentary, unpleasant messages - this is how I really see you, now I can say what I really feel, you SOB.

· The organisation in introducing such a policy are encouraging its managers to take risks and individuals may need support and protection.

Why do it? The reasons must be very clear and careful organisation and design of the survey method itself is essential. It is inadvisable to do it for confused reasons and in an atmosphere of tension.

Assessment Centres


The term assessment centre does not refer to a physical place, instead it describes an approach. Traditionally an assessment centre consisted of a suite of exercises designed to assess a set of personal characteristics, it was seen as a rather formal process where the individuals being assessed had the results fed back to them in the context of a simple yes/no selection decision. However, recently we have seen a definite shift in thinking away from this traditional view of an assessment centre to one, which stresses the developmental aspect of assessment. A consequence of this is that today it is very rare to come across an assessment centre which does not have at least some developmental aspect to it, increasingly assessment centres are stressing a collaborative approach which involves the individual actively participating in the process rather than being a passive recipient of it. In some cases we can even find assessment centres that are so developmental in their approach that most of the assessment work done is carried out by the participants themselves and the major function of the centre is to provide the participants with feedback that is as much developmental as judgmental in nature.

Assessment centres typically involve the participants completing a range of exercises which simulate the activities carried out in the target job. Various combinations of these exercises and sometimes other assessment methods like psychometric testing and interviews are used to assess particular competencies in individuals. The theory behind this is that if one wishes to predict future job performance then the best way of doing this is to get the individual to carry out a set of tasks which accurately sample those required in the job and are as similar to them as possible. The particular competencies used will depend upon the target job but one will often find competencies such as relating to people; resistance to stress; planning and organising; motivation; adaptability and flexibility; problem solving; leadership; communication; decision making and initiative. There are numerous possible competencies and the ones which are relevant to a particular job are determined through job analysis.

The fact that a set of exercises is used demonstrates one crucial characteristic of an assessment centre - namely that it is behaviour that is being observed and measured. This represents a significant departure from many traditional selection approaches which rely on the observer or selector attempting to infer personal characteristics from behaviour based upon subjective judgement and usually precious little evidence. This approach is rendered unfair and inaccurate by the subjective whims and biases of the selector and in many cases produces a selection decision based on a freewheeling social interaction after which a decision was made as whether the individuals face fit with the organisation.


We can trace the existence of assessment centres back to 14 when they were used by War Office Selection Boards (Anstey, 18). Their introduction stemmed from the fact that the existing system was resulting in a large proportion of those officers it had predicted would be successful being returned to unit as unsuitable. This is hardly surprising when one considers that the system as it was relied on interviewing to select officers and had as selection criteria things like social and educational background. Even the criteria of achievement in the ranks which one might imagine as being more job relevant included things like exceptional smartness. No wonder unsuitable people were chosen as officers and potentially excellent officers overlooked. The assessment centre approach subsequently adopted was an attempt to accurately elicit the types of behaviour that an officer was required to display in order to be successful in their job. The tasks included leaderless group exercises, selection tests and individual interviews by a senior officer, junior officer and psychiatrist respectively. This new system resulted in a substantial drop in the proportion of officers being returned to unit as unfit for duty. During the post war years this system was so successful that it was introduced for selection to the Civil Service and a variation of it is still used for officer selection in the armed forces to this day.

Differences Between Assessment and Development Centres

Assessment centres

§ have a pass/fail criteria geared towards filing a job vacancy

§ address an immediate organisational need have fewer assessors and more participants involve line managers as assessors

§ have less emphasis placed on self-assessment focus on what the candidate can do now are geared to meet the needs of the organisation

§ assign the role of judge to assessors place emphasis on selection with little or no developmental feedback and follow up give feedback at a later date

§ involve the organisation having control over the information obtained

§ have very little pre-centre briefing tend to be used with external candidates

Development centres

§ do not have a pass/fail criteria

§ are geared towards developing the individual

§ address a longer term need

§ have a 11 ratio of assessor to participant

§ do not have line managers as assessors

§ have a greater emphasis placed on self-assessment

§ focus on potential

§ are geared to meet needs of the individual as well as the organisation

§ assign the role of facilitator to assessors

§ place emphasis on developmental feedback and follow up with little or no selection function

§ give feedback immediately

§ involve the individual having control over the information obtained

§ have a substantial pre-centre briefing

§ tend to be used with internal candidates

§ Typical processes used in selection based assessment centres include

The Working

Assessment Centres are highly structured in their design, application, and assessment procedure. They are commonly conducted by outside consultants who have invested large amounts of resources into researching and designing Assessment Centres, which will produce valid measurements and a good predictor of future outcomes of test candidates for the business customer. In other cases, Assessment Centres may be conducted by trained personnel within the employer company. Each Assessment Centre is specifically adapted for the advertised position, to assess factors such as the candidates level of skills, aptitude and compatibility with the organisations culture. Each test measures a range of indicators within these factors. During each test, a group of trained observers will rate individual candidates on a range of set indicators, using a prescribed performance scale. Results are then cross compared against the same indicators, which are measured in other tests. Following test completion, observers meet to discuss the test results and reach a group consensus about each individuals ratings. Observers may be visible during the test, or more commonly, may view a videotaped recording e.g. telephone role-play.

At the beginning of the Assessment, candidates will receive an initial briefing about the timetable of tests, location of rooms etc. Prior to each test, they will be given instructions describing the exercise, their role, timeframes, equipment etc. They will not be informed in detail about the individual indicators, which will be measured. Recruits are unlikely to receive feedback on their Assessment Centre results, unless they have been successfully selected. Employees of a company who have undertaken Assessment as part of a restructuring or personnel development process, will receive detailed written feedback on their performance and future development needs.

The most common type of exercises are

1. Exercises to measure a particular set of job skills

Recruits for a car production line were tested on physical strength, co-ordination and aptitude for production line work, by repeatedly fitting tyres onto wheel rims.

Accounts Clerk recruits were asked to complete tests measuring accuracy against speed. A particular test required invoices to be reconciled against a spreadsheet ledger, with errors being appropriately amended. Numerical tests may involve calculating hotel accounts, goods invoices, and vehicle mileage examples, using a multiple-choice answer format. Many of these tests are not designed to be completed within the given timeframe.

. Case Studies

Project Managers may be asked to plan for the release of a new product, which incorporates scheduling, budgeting and resourcing. This type of exercise may measure the ability to analyse complex data and issues; seek solutions; project plan; and present findings, using a mixture of presentation skills.

. In tray exercises

If you are asked to do an In Tray exercise, you may be asked to assume a particular role as an employee of a fictitious company and work through a pile of correspondence in your In Tray. These tests commonly measure Job Skills such as ability to organise and prioritise work; analytical skills; communication with team members and customers; written communication skills; and delegation (if a higher level position). This type of exercise may take from several hours to a day. Try to imagine that you are at work doing the described duties, rather than completing a test. Phone interaction will involve a role player who has been thoroughly briefed in their respective role as a customer, manager etc.

A common example of an in tray exercise at first level management may involve placing you in a particular role within a work setting, where a crisis situation is developing. The situation requires you to take responsibility for the situation. During the exercise, mail is delivered and collected each half-hour. The exercise will describe what resources are available to you

E.g. a list of internal phone contacts and whos who, a telephone, fax, Personal Computer, information such as a product reference chart, data showing the work areas performance, a calendar which notes key dates and relevant deadlines, a highlighter, pen, pencil, eraser, ruler, internal memo pad, letterhead stationery, writing pad, envelopes, out tray, and an in tray containing particular items. Intray items may range from requests to return calls to customers with specific complaints and queries, comments to be provided to your manager, reports to be completed, requests from your staff, and office social club notices. Some of this correspondence may be past the action date, other notes may be vague in meaning.

4.Group exercises

Group exercises involve candidates working together as a team, to resolve a presented issue. These exercises commonly measure interpersonal skills such as group leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and group problem solving skills.

Group exercises may range from leaderless group discussion formats to problem solving scenarios.

In a leaderless group discussion you may be assigned a fictitious team member role and asked to attend a meeting with other team members who are actually fellow candidates. By the end of the meeting, the group will choose the best strategy to meet a future prescribed target. Your role is to discuss the merits of your strategy (described in your written briefing), and to comment on the weaknesses of other strategies which you suspect will be presented by other team members. You will have some background on the other team members, including their past performance, knowledge of the product and situation etc. Other team members briefs may ask them to promote the comparatively superior merits of their strategies.

One example of a problem solving scenario includes a Tower Building exercise, using play building blocks. In this exercise, a group may be competing with other groups to design and build a tower in accordance with a construction brief which may stipulate minimum height, time period the completed tower has to stand unsupported, colour, cost of block shapes, a time limit, and a budget. There may be monetary penalties for failing to reach particular aspects of the brief. Each group has access to a limited number of blocks.

5. Role Plays

If you are asked to do a role-play, you will be asked to assume a fictitious role and handle a particular work situation. Customer Service Officers may be asked to respond to a number of phone inquiries, including customer queries and complaints.

This type of exercise may measure oral communication, customer service orientation, and problem solving. Managers may be asked to provide feedback to a sales representative staff member, after viewing a videotape of the sales representatives call with a client, or meet with a same level manager of another section, to gain their agreement on a service delivery strategy.

These types of exercises may measure oral communication; maximising performance, and influencing.

Role-Plays usually use professional actors as the customer / staff person respondent. They are clearly briefed about their role and how to respond when the candidate takes a particular approach in the role-play.


Assessment Centres should measure an individuals ability to make the transition to a managerial role. If we look at all that is involved in such a transition, we can begin to see that certain elements might be missing in the design of some Assessment Centres.

The classic model of failure to make this transition is the promotion of the best sales person to be the sales manager. What seems to go wrong in managing this transition is not easily discovered by looking at any of the specific competencies of the sales managers role. The problem seems to revolve around the difficulty in learning how to assume authority over others. With the increasing emphasis on empowerment today, this transition will not get any easier. It is much harder to use authority to empower people that it is to simply tell them what to do.

The newly appointed sales manager fails for at least three related reasons not being able to stop selling, not knowing how to work through people and not being able to cope with the resentment of those who did not get the job. All of these reasons relate to the difficulty of assuming authority over others. Some will fail to make this transition effectively because they do not exert enough authority they continue on much as before, hoping to lead solely by example. Others fail by exerting too much authority too quickly, being overly controlling and, thereby, compounding the natural resentment of those who lost the competition to get the promotion.

These reasons for failure may indicate a lack of emotional maturity rather than simply a lack of any specific managerial competency. And this suggests what might be missing in the design of some Assessment Centres too much emphasis on the rational content of the managers job, those aspects primarily requiring problem solving and decision making skills.

A bias towards the rational content of a job also tends to exclude organisational dynamics and results from designing Assessment Centres on the basis of job analysis techniques. This approach encourages a static and overly rational view of job roles

Many such Assessment Centres are not even designed to examine the problem of authority over others or to engage the emotions of candidates sufficiently to shed much light on emotional maturity. These two design faults can be readily overcome.

An Assessment Centre which does not directly focus on how candidates use authority over others might be made up of assessment instruments and exercises such as the following ability tests, personality inventories, an In tray, a group discussion, a presentation exercise and an interview. A common design for an Intray is one which does not involve having to communicate with, or delegate to, subordinates. Such Intrays typically consist of a number of organisational problems which the candidate is required to analyse, prioritise and make decisions about. Hence these In trays are primarily problem solving and decision making exercises and have little or nothing to do with directly exercising authority over others. The same can be said of the group discussion, which is generally about interacting with peers over whom one has no formal authority. This is the most common design fault.

Some Assessment Centres do look at the problem of assuming authority over others by using a role play exercise which requires the candidate to conduct a performance review with a subordinate who is played by a role player. This is where the second design fault comes in the role-play is a completely discrete exercise with no connection to anything which has gone before. The candidate has had no previous contact with the subordinate to be interviewed and therefore is less likely to be emotionally engaged in the exercise. It is like asking a manager to review the performance of a peers subordinate. Granted, even a totally discrete role-play will work well enough for some candidates and is better than no authority related exercise at all.

Case I




Introduction to Bharat Shell

Bharat Shell is a joint venture between Shell Overseas Investment BV of Holland and Bharat Petroleum Corporation. It is into the business of marketing premium grade Shell-branded lubricants and liquefied petroleum gas to domestic and industrial consumers.

Importance of Competency Mapping at Bharat Shell

The HR department of Bharat Shell fully recognises the importance of competency mapping. They map each job with required competencies to perform it. Managers with the skills and knowledge to identify competencies perform this process, and produce an organisational competency map. A competency map is made up of attributes (inherent personal traits), and competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities required in a job) developed for each and every job.

They also assess and measure the competency gaps, and develop recommendations and training programs to quickly address and close these disjunctions.

Identifying competencies is the basis for HR planning at Bharat Shell. It provides the framework for

§ Individual training and development

§ Career planning, and

§ Training needs analysis

They define Competencies as a set of factors, which help an individual to achieve success in his career. They believe that Competency Mapping is important for an organisation and becomes a base for creating a performance-based culture, increasing the accuracy in selection, placements & in talent maximisation.


Competencies are the set of knowledge, skills and behaviour attributes that are required to perform effectively in a particular job position. As mentioned earlier, each job is analysed, and different competencies required for it are decided upon. These are the attributes that are most important and essential for the efficient performance of the job. Thus, the job is mapped.

The Process of Competency Mapping Bharat Shell

The following process is followed for Competency Mapping

I. Knowledge, skills and behavioural attributes required at all levels and job positions are identified.

II. They are grouped in as a set of competencies.

III. A clear and simple measurement scale is established.

IV. All associates and mangers are mapped against the pre-determined set of competencies by a panel of trained people.

Competency Mapping as a Performance Management Tool

Once a competency map has been developed and validated, it can be used as a tool to manage, evaluate, and develop employee performance; recruit and select individuals that possess the skills required in the position; and compensate individuals based on their demonstrated performance.

At Bharat Shell, while competencies are used in fixing base pay, they are not used for deciding the bonus. Performance appraisal, based on business goals, is used for deciding bonus pay.

Moreover, competency mapping helps in

§ Career development

§ Recognising training needs, and

§ Recruitment & selection

Levels of Ability

Bharat Shell has established five levels of abilities, which make the part of competency measurement scale

§ Basic Understanding

§ Working Knowledge

§ Can Do

§ Outstanding

§ Role Model

Thus, once the competencies for a particular job are decided, each person performing that job is analysed on the basis of these competencies. His proficiency level for each desired competency is classified into the above five categories.

One of the important considerations in competency mapping is that the competencies must be repeatedly demonstrated under different circumstances, to different people and without much effort.


At Bharat Shell competencies are measured

§ Half yearly, as a regular feature

§ During selection

§ During promotion

Thus, Competency Mapping and Assessments result in

§ Specified observable behaviours for each attribute

§ Identified attributes and competencies for each position mapped

§ Identification of desired proficiency level for each competency

Case II





The Aditya Birla group is a conglomerate of businesses. These businesses have turnover ranging from 0 crores to 4000 crores and spanning a range of industries. The Human Resource Department is structured into two levels. HRD efforts at the group level are managed by a HR department at the group office at Industry House, Mumbai. Each business also has a HR department that services that particular business. Birla group has recently decided to implement competency mapping. They are in the design phase and are executing the implementation of competency mapping in a planned and systematic manner.

What is “Competency” at Birla?

To explain competency as understood at Birla. Let us consider the following theory that uses David McClelland’s theory of Achievement � Affiliation � Power. An individual is driven by the following three things

· Attitude This develops from the personal value system.

· Motive profile Motivation drive in the person. This is internal to the person. This generally does not change in the short term, but may change over the long term.

· Value profile These are the values that are imbibed on an individual from his family, friends, school, etc.

An individual’s may face the following combination




Achievement Affiliation Power

Motive profile

Value profile

Job profile

His own motivation (Motive profile) may pull him towards the shown degrees as far as achievement, affiliation, and power are concerned. But his value profile may ask for different measures of achievement, affiliation, and power. While his job profile may require a third combination. Competency lies in balancing these variances between personal needs and job requirements.

Competency defined

Before starting on the process of implementing competency mapping, competency was defined at Birla.

Competencies are demonstrated capabilities and behavioural manifestations that are known to lead to success more often then not.

Embarking on the competency mapping road

Prior to beginning on competency mapping, Birla decided that usage of competency mapping was not going to be an organisation change. Ideally, the process should involve identifying and interviewing successful people at various levels Top management, Senior management, Middle management and Junior management. Then success factors have to be identified and then each of the jobs have to be profiled. This approach requires lot of time and effort, which Birla did not have. Therefore, they decided that they would take up a few management levels and implement competency mapping for their levels. The idea was to make sure that the project needs realistic time frames. By this method they wanted to light a fire at various points at varying organisation levels. They believed that once the fire is lit at various phases the people around it would be compelled to join in the process. The HR departments will then have to implement it across their business units.

Implementation Phase I

Four levels of management were identified �

a. Top management (Directors, Business Unit Heads, etc.)

b. Senior management (President, Vice President)

c. Middle management (General Manager)

d. Junior management (Deputy General Manager)

These were the target levels of management for which competency mapping would be implemented.

In the first phase, increasing the general awareness about competencies was undertaken. A -page document was given to around 1000 managers. This document talked about competencies and how their presence can be measured. The competencies were classified into 4 groups

¨ Managing self

¨ Managerial

® Organisational

® Role related

® People oriented

· Interpersonal

· Functional competencies

Functional competencies would be out of the preview of this study. The other competencies that were identified were role oriented. Competencies are role oriented rather than position oriented. A taxation manager in a 0 Cr. Company and in a 4000 Cr. would need to know the same thing. Depending on the position, the complexities would change. Role thus became important in their entire exercise.

Implementation Phase II

Another document containing a matrix of competencies was prepared that was applicable to all 4 levels of management. The gradation of each of these competencies for each of the levels was specified. In addition, how can the presence / absence of these competencies be identified was also provided. This document was then circulated to all managers.

Simultaneously, the top people viz. Chairman / Director / Unit heads / Functional heads, across the group, were asked to identify 10 �15 critical roles from their businesses. After identifying these roles a detailed job description was to be prepared. This has been done for 00 roles. In a later phase, the corporate HR department will prepare a customised competency model for each of these 00 roles.

Implementation Phase III

In this phase, a detailed matrix was prepared from the above competencies that specified more clearly what competencies were required at each level. Here competencies that are more prominently applicable for a level are specified. Their assumption is that if a person is at a particular level of management he already has the required competencies of levels under him. Therefore, in the following matrix they have only identified unique competencies applicable to the respective levels. Competency in the area of leadership has been deliberately left out. They believe that leadership by itself is not a competency, but it is a cluster of 5/6 competencies. Therefore, so as to not to add ambiguity this competency has been deliberately left out.

The following matrix was prepared after umpteen rounds of debates and discussions internally and taking the viewpoints of external consultants who are into hiring people across industry and across levels.

Junior management Middle management Senior management Top management

Role Supervisory & Operational Supervisory & Co-ordination Co-ordination & Direction Direction & Strategic

Distinguishing competencies InitiativeTeam workExecutionProblem solving Project Mgmt.Internal Personal relationsCo-ordinationInformationTeam developmentAnalytical thinking JudgementDecision makingPerformance Mgmt.Change Mgmt.CreativityOrganisation integration VisioningStrategicEnvironment Mgmt.AdvancementMotivatingOrganisation renewal

The above matrix has been published and put up on the Intranet. They then collected feedback from the managers asking them what they and their immediate boss thought were the required competencies for their job. They asked the managers to undergo self-appraisal and get appraised by their immediate boss. Gaps were identified between existing and required competencies. Each manager was then asked to write down what they were going to do about it and what their boss was going to do to help close out the gap. This feedback obtained here would be used for coming up with specific competency models for the select 00 roles identified before.

There are some positive changes that this entire implementation process has brought about in the Birla group.

v People are now talking in the language of competencies.

v As the requirements of various roles are being clearly identified, there seems to be a more open environment building.

v The appraisals have become more objective

v Importantly, the managers are now aware what is required if they wish to climb up the corporate leader. They then see for themselves if they have what it takes to rise from their existing levels. The managers are re-evaluating their aspirations.

Implementation plans for the future

The above matrix is going to be published with some accompanying literature in about a month’s time. The appraisal system will then be structured around the specific models that will be prepared. Their target is that by next year competency mapping will be used in replacement, promotion and succession planning.


Thus we see that the Birla group is going in a planned and systematic manner in implementing competency mapping across its group. They are combining new HR practices with their vast experience to exploit these new HR practices to take a re-look and re-structure their role definitions. And use this in their entire HR activities.

Case III





Mahindra and Mahindra are a group of 8 businesses. Each of the 8 business has their respective HR department that services that particular business. Their group HR department is at Mahindra Towers, Worli.

Mahindra and Mahindra have implemented Competency Mapping years ago. Mr. Manish Kumar, the Vice � President of Human Capital was the initiator for this project in Mahindras.

Competency defined at Mahindra & Mahindra

At the outset of this project at Mahindras, Competency was defined at Mahindra and Mahindra as

Competencies are unambiguous description of behaviours that are observable, measurable and cacheable. A competency description not only contains the description of competency; it also includes the measure of the degree of proficiency in applying the competency. Also competencies are the underlying personal characteristics, the traits, skills, attitudes, behaviours & knowledge that are expressed in observable behaviour & action.

Need for competency mapping

A need for competency mapping was felt in Mahindras as their appraisal process had lot of disparity because of the different hierarchy followed in the various departments across various sectors. There was lot of subjectivity in the appraisals and reviews. There was no well-defined benchmark to compare the performance of the employees at the time of the appraisals. Therefore, the need was felt to standardise the structures, at least in terms of role identification and reducing the subjectivity in the appraisal system. These were the primary objectives of introducing competency mapping.

A role competency structure helps to define a hierarchy of roles with increasing complexity. They wanted this structure to be able to communicate across diverse functions such as manufacturing, finance accounts marketing, etc. Identifying the common competencies that cut across the sectors, locations and functions can do this. They defined 1 competencies. The unique technical competencies for each function were excluded which do not help in creating a common comparable framework.

The officers in the company are placed in their grade structure. The grade structure therefore provided an excellent vehicle to link the roles and competencies across various sectors, locations and functions. This also helped as broad expectations from the officers in each grade were clearly spelt out and were consistent across the system.

Advantages of a role based competency structure

1. Employees’ competencies can be aligned with the strategic and business requirements of the company.

. Clearly criteria for promotions consistent across sectors, locations and functions.

. Clear expectation from each grade in terms of the role performed and competencies required. This will help in establishing common and consistent standards for appraisals. Recruitment will become more focussed.

Competencies defined at Mahindra

Mahindra defined 1 competencies as follows

1. Adherence to system Mahindra adhered to work procedures with an emphasis on quality.

. Analytical ability According to Mahindra, analytical ability would help in analysing problems and developing optimal and creative solutions to maximise performance.

. Business of understanding According to Mahindra, Business of understanding would demonstrate awareness of the business dynamics and impact the company’s business.

4. Communication According to Mahindra, communication would provide and receive oral and written information so that all parties understand the message and take appropriate action.

5. Cross-functional perspective According to Mahindra, Cross-functional perspective would demonstrate a broad perspective that considers multiple functional and technical areas and enhance performance.

6. Customer focus According to Mahindra, customer focus would keep own and others focus on internal and external customer and help in decision making and taking actions.

7. Decision-making According to Mahindra, decision making would help to possess the ability to make calculated decisions in a complex environment.

8. Innovation and change According to Mahindra, innovations and change would utilise learning and resourcefulness to generate ideas and innovate opportunities to solve problems.

. Organisational Skills According to Mahindra, organisational skills would prioritise, organise and develops plans for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

10. People management According to Mahindra, people management would guide others towards positive outcomes would provide them with clearly defined objectives, feedback and advancement opportunities.

11. Strategic thinking According to Mahindra, strategic thinking would conceptualise the future environment and provide others with a clear image of what needs to be done to ensure long term success.

1. Teamwork According to Mahindra, teamwork, would actively collaborate with others to achieve performance goals.

Implementation Phase I

Prior to the beginning of competency mapping, Mahindra had five bands of workers which are -

1. Strategic

. Executive

. Unit head

4. Managerial

5. Operational

Mahindra started the implementation of competency mapping in two of their sectors - the automotive sector and the field equipment sector. These two sectors were selected as they contributed to 80% of the group’s turnover. To standardise and streamline the bands across sectors, the band corresponding to Unit Head was removed. Moreover there were three grades the expert, the practitioner and the beginner. These grades were specified as below

Expert The person can train and coach others in performing the goals well. He can address problems by questioning and suggesting. He is consistent and rarely misses behaviour.

Practitioner The person performs the role and also fully understands context of the role that suits the environment. This is possible as he would have developed an understanding of what he is doing and why.

Beginner A person who is performing the role but in the process of acquiring the competencies to fulfil it to acceptable level. The person needs consistent guidance. Appropriate behaviours are infrequent and inconsistent.

Implementation phase II

A document containing the 1 competencies defined by Mahindra was made available to all the employees of Mahindra and put up on the Intranet as well.

A role description of each of the four bands was identified. Then a questionnaire was formed for each band of employees. The preparation of this questionnaire took around 45 days of effort. The immediate boss of each employee filled this questionnaire. The feedback obtained was used for coming up with specific competency models for the selected roles identified by the company. This model was then used for appraising employees of the pilot departments viz. HR and Finance in the two sectors.

Implementation phase III

This project has just entered in its phase III. Here they plan to implement competency mapping across both the sectors for all departments therein.

Implementation difficulties

The experience at Mahindra has brought out certain implementation difficulties -

1. People find the concepts related to competency mapping a little difficult to understand.

. The employees have difficulty in changing their mindset, as they need to adopt a new way of evaluating themselves and their job requirements.

. Employees think that such concept is not real.

4. There is the need to bring the line staff under confidence. Without their support this effort may not yield the desired results.

5. There is a need to involve people from all the areas, else there will be no ownership. Especially so, since employees have managed to stay with their jobs and undergo promotions without going through such a process.

6. The desired elimination of subjectivity in the appraisal system is now completely achieved. It is reduced after implementation of competency mapping, but not reduced completely.

Radar technology

The competency mapping related efforts detailed above are only meant for employees belonging to the officers’ category. Mahindra has a process in place for the employees of the worker category as well. The underlying principles are similar to those for competency mapping.

Mahindra has adopted the Radar technology for this purpose. Toyota first implemented the concept of Radar technology. Its principles are similar to that of competency mapping. Here the workers were divided into 4 quadrants as shown in this diagram.

Workers join in quadrant 1 (Q1) and are expected to graduate from Q � Q � Q4. The first quadrant (Q1) consists of those workers who have the knowledge about various jobs. The second quadrant (Q) consists of workers who can do different types of jobs. The third quadrant (Q) consists of workers who can solve the problems relating to their work. And finally the fourth quadrant (Q4) tells us about those workers who are expert in their job and who can lead and train other workers.

Depending on which category a worker is, a radar is maintained for him. This radar has the following form

Process awareness Actual


Teaching Punctuality


On the various spokes of the radar the various required competencies are listed. Depending on the quadrant the worker is in, the required level of that competency is mapped. After each appraisal and training, the worked is evaluated for these competencies and his level is marked in this radar. This radar thus indicates the gap between what competency levels the worker currently possesses and what are the desired levels. This is the basic working of the radar technology.


Mahindra & Mahindra have adopted competency mapping and have implemented it as desired by them. They are using is primarily to standardise their band structures across sectors and revamp their appraisal system with an aim to reduce the subjectivity in the appraisal.

Benefits and Uses of Competency Mapping


Radical changes in the nature of work and organisation have far reaching implications for the practice of Human Resources Management. For instance, the transformation of HR from being an administration oriented service department toward a strategically oriented function responsible for much more than the hiring and firing of personnel, has indeed become a reality. Keeping with this fundamental change in the orientation of HR activities, practitioners as well as researchers in the field have been constantly trying to evolve appropriate structures around which every HR activity can be integrated and harmonised. It is against this backdrop that Competency Movement has gained ground.

Competencies, as explained earlier, are related to performance by ensuring situation specific behaviours. In organisations, these behaviours lead to continuous improvement in quality, productivity, sales and other economic results and to innovation in the development of new products and services. This section will focus on how organisations can benefit from developing competency framework and aligning the HR systems with the Competency requirements.

Competency Mapping and Basic Human Resource Functions

Competency models can be organised as flexible tools that can be used to support various practices such as

· Competency Based Recruitment and Selection

· Competency Based Training and Development

· Competency Based Career and Succession Planning

· Competencies and Performance Management System

Competency mapping can help to identify individuals who are eligible to be considered for promotion, or who are potential replacements for an unexpected vacancy. It can analyse manpower to identify strengths and weaknesses in skills and experience, assess trends and developments in competency levels over time, manage skills inventories as well as management and technical competencies compare job requirements with individual competencies analyse strengths and weaknesses and project training needs.

Succession planning is about making sure you have the right people in the right jobs at the right time. It is about identifying tomorrows leaders today and ensuring continuity of top management to drive the business forward - a challenge in any organisation. Competency mapping can identify management development initiatives that address the needs of the organisation, both today and tomorrow. It can identify individuals who can be developed to address the gaps, matching them with key job requirements, identify skills shortages that may require targeted recruitment or management development programmes and track key groups of employees, such as graduates, specialists or high-potential staff, to monitor their career progression and reduce the risk of losing these valuable resources.

Performance appraisal is being used by leading organisations to focus attention on “core competencies” � the small number of skills and attributes that are essential for an organisation’s success. Performance management is positioned as a process comprised of steps that include planning, managing, evaluating and rewarding performance. Often, definitions or a subset of the competencies are used in performance management. In addition, the performance appraisal process includes goals, expected results, and competencies as an ongoing process, which aligns and integrates the objectives of the organisation, business units, teams and individuals. Competencies specify precisely how individuals can align their activities to the key strategies of the organisation.

The results of the evaluation can be used to identify in what competencies, individuals need additional development or training. This will help focus the training needs on the goals of the position and company and help the employees develop toward the ultimate success of the organisation.

Briefly, competency mapping assists in

· Determination of technical, behavioural, and managerial traits required for individual success.

· Providing accurate specifications for recruitment and staffing.

· Providing a basis for consistently measuring performance as related to the business objectives.

· Reinforcing the critical elements of the organisation’s business strategy.


For The Company, competency-based practices

· Reinforce corporate strategy, culture, and vision.

· Aligning individuals, teams, and managers with the organisation’s business strategies

· Creating empowerment, accountability, and alignment of coach, team member, and employer in performance development

· Developing equitable, focused appraisal and compensation decisions

· Establish expectations for performance excellence, resulting in a systematic approach to professional development, improved job satisfaction, and better employee retention.

· Increase the effectiveness of training and professional development programs by linking them to the success criteria (i.e., behavioural standards of excellence).

· Provide a common framework and language for discussing how to implement and communicate key strategies.

· Provide a common understanding of the scope and requirements of a specific role.

· Provide common, organisation-wide standards for career levels that enable employees to move across business boundaries.

For Managers, competency-based practices

· Identify performance criteria to improve the accuracy and ease of the hiring and selection process.

· Provide more objective performance standards.

· Clarify standards of excellence for easier communication of performance expectations to direct reports.

· Provide a clear foundation for dialogue to occur between the manager and employee about performance, development, and career-related issues.

For Employees, competency-based practices

· Identify the success criteria (i.e., behavioural standards of performance excellence) required to be successful in their role.

· Support a more specific and objective assessment of their strengths and specify targeted areas for professional development.

· Provide development tools and methods for enhancing their skills.

· Provide the basis for a more objective dialogue with their manager or team about performance, development, and career related issues.

Business Impact

Often leadership programs or performance development interventions are seen as important, but focused on soft skills that may not affect business results. Some of the measurable benefits of competency-based performance development are listed below. These kinds of impacts improve talent levels, save money, and improve business performance.

· 5-10% in rate of hiring successful candidates.

· 15-0% in retention of desired employees.

· 15-5% in morale as measured in employee surveys.

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