Understanding the Three Types of Competencies


There are many organizations that believe in three types of competencies that are considered important for their employees. These three types include – core competencies, cross functional competencies and functional competencies. In this article, let us look at each of these competency types and understand how they can contribute to the success of an organization. But before going in-depth in finding more about these competencies, it is important to understand the concept of competency and its importance.


To put it simply, competency can be described as the behavioral attributes, skills, and knowledge that are required for putting in suitable performances while at the job. While behavioral attributes refer to the personality characteristics that are needed to be successful on the job, skills refer to practical or technical skills that are required for performing the job satisfactorily and knowledge refers to the experience and previous education that is needed while on the job.


Three types of competencies to watch out for

1. Core competencies

It is often seen that core competencies are in direct relation with strategic organization capabilities. For those who are not aware of what this is all about, these capabilities refer to areas in which the organization seeks to have a competitive advantage. Core competencies are extremely useful for individuals to express, reinforce and reward themselves with the organizational values. Some of the important core competencies include – decision making, teamwork, work standards, reliability, motivation, adaptability, problem-solving, integrity, communication, planning and organization, stress tolerance, and initiative. Let’s look at some of these core competency definitions:


  • Through decision making, an individual will have the ability to make a sound judgment to enable him/her to take decisions after collecting and analyzing information. Through teamwork, the individual can interact effectively with people. The individual will support decisions taken by the group and put its goal above his/her own. Setting and maintaining high-performance standards is made possible for individuals through work standards. Also, in having reliability factor in him/her, the individual will take up personal responsibility for his/her performance.
  • Through motivation, an employee is able to display enthusiasm and energy in approaching duties.
  • Adaptability refers to the ability of the employee to get accustomed to changing work environments, organizational needs, and work priorities.
  • In having problem-solving skills, individuals are able to analyze the problem and gather relevant information to come up with right solutions.
  • When the employee adheres to the procedures and policies of an organization, it means he/she is a person with integrity.
  • In having communication skills, the employee is able to express thoughts and ideas freely, clearly, and in a concise manner.
  • Through planning and organization, the individual is able to plan and organize work responsibilities and tasks for achieving objectives.
  • The employee, in having stress tolerance, will be able to display the ability to withstand pressure and exhibit emotional resilience on a consistent basis.
  • Similarly, the employee will be able to take suitable actions to influence events in having initiative qualities.

2. Cross functional competencies

These competencies refer to the ones that are not selected for core competencies directly. However, these competencies are still required for a number of jobs across many functions and departments. Some of the examples include computer user skills, budgeting, etc.


Through cross functional competencies, there are plenty of benefits to look forward to. Some of these benefits include, but are not limited to, increasing employee proficiency, promotion of team work, reduction of time and cost and boosting employee loyalty.


3. Functional competencies

These competencies are also referred to as technical competencies. These are the skills that professionals are required to use on a daily or regular basis. Employee training, software programming, risk analysis, data analysis and tax accounting are some of the examples that fall under this competency. It is also important to know that these competencies are job-specific ones that drive quality results and assured performances for different positions.


Having these three types of competencies is extremely important for employees to make a mark in the corporate or organizational world.