Competency-Based Management

By Kochanski, Jim | Training & Development, October 1997 | Go to article overview

Competency-Based Management

Kochanski, Jim, Training & Development

Expanding capability and capacity is the key to managing people successfully. Here's how.

In many, if not most, organizations, employees become managers when they assume responsibility for managing people. Yet, managers often manage everything except people. Instead, they're busy making product, technical, process, and financial decisions. Management that overlooks an organization's capacity and capability - the combined competencies of its people - risks not meeting customers' needs and losing them to competitors.

Most managers care about their organizations' success, and they recognize the need for employees' contributions. So, why aren't otherwise responsible managers practicing sound people management?

Typically, sound practices are used only with a small number of employees - the top and bottom performers. So, while top performers are being rewarded and low performers are exiting, most employees are just maintaining their current level of performance. In that scenario, an organization's capacity and capability remain static.

Traditional management practices tend to be too complex, and they don't fit with the new organizational environments. Narrow job descriptions and classifications just don't mesh with the increasingly dynamic nature of work.

Competency-based management is an approach that reduces complexity, adds capacity, and increases overall capability. CBM involves identifying the competencies that distinguish high performers from average performers. [TABULAR DATA OMITTED] It condenses core competencies from the complex web of roles, responsibilities, goals, skills, knowledge, and abilities that determine an employee's effectiveness.

The competencies form the foundation for selection, learning, rewards, and other aspects of employee management. CBM also supports such imperatives as speed-to-market, customer satisfaction, flexibility, and employees' control of their careers and personal lives.

System within a system Consider the numerous areas related to development or effectiveness from an employee's perspective:

* recruitment, selection, and orientation

* training

* job design and work assignments

* succession planning and promotions

* organizational structure

* pay structure

* career planning

* reward and recognition systems

* termination.

That's a mind-boggling array of elements that should be linked. But even HRD professionals have trouble explaining how they fit together.

That complex system of employee-related areas operates within an even more complex system: the organization. Often, the only thread that ties together "people processes" is a manager's bias about what makes an employee successful.

To an employee, what is the link between such elements as his or her performance evaluation, pay increase, training, job assignment, transfer, and promotion? It's the manager's perception of the employee. If the perception is accurate and articulated well, that's positive for the employee. But more often, the manager's-perception is either inaccurate or incomplete. Or, it's not understood by the employee. Even when employees understand a manager's perception of success, other managers' perceptions may be different. That can make an employee's path through the career development maze hazardous, confusing, and tricky.

Further complicating the system of employee development and effectiveness are the biases of the employees managers manage. How do employees learn what it takes to be effective? Most learn from legend, hearsay, and trial and error. The result: Each employee has a somewhat different, only partially accurate view of how to be effective at work.

Most managers don't have the time or mandate to be responsible for developing their staffs. And it doesn't help the situation when well-meaning administrators ask managers to fill out appraisal and development forms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Competency-Based Management


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.