Steps and Tools used in Competency Mapping

All of us have played the game of jigsaw puzzles. Simply put, in this game, matching pieces needs to be joined together in order to complete the puzzle. This analogy can be used to understand the process of competency mapping. The job role or the task at hand and the employee represent the two puzzle pieces that needs to be matched based on the “fitment” of the employee for the job role or the task. The basis of matching are competencies. The procedure of Competency Mapping is approximately the same across organizations, using the following 8 major steps highlighted by Sharma and Khanna (2015) as follows:

  1. Identify the department for which competency mapping needs to be conducted
  2. Identify the organizational structure and list down the grades and levels followed in that organization
  3. Conduct job analysis and prepare a job and role description
  4. Using any suitable method of competency mapping collect data about the core competencies of the employee
  5. Classify the obtained data into required skill set and further identify the skill levels
  6. Evaluate and confirm the identified skill set with immediate supervisors and heads of other departments
  7. Prepare the competency calendar
  8. Map the competencies

Following these highlighted steps, the process of competency mapping employs certain tools that help in the collection of information and provide an objective basis to that information. Some of the tools widely used in competency mapping are as follows:

a) Competency-based Interview:

Face-to-face interview is the most convenient tool to collect large amount of information. These competency-based interviews may be of various types such as structured, semi-structured or unstructured depending on the person conducting the interview.

No matter which type is used, interviews should be carefully designed so as to provide information about the easily observed information and the general disposition and motivation of the employee. The questions prepared should target each competency and highlight the tangible skills and knowledge possessed by the employee, how he or she behaves under certain conditions, and how they conduct themselves with other people. The questions focus on linking past job performance with future on the job performance.

A major disadvantage of this tool is that it is subjective and therefore, bias and distortion of flow should be avoided. (Balaji, 2011). If handled effectively, interviews can prove to be a powerful technique for getting accurate details and obtaining information which may otherwise be unavailable.

b) Competency-based questionnaires:

Competency-based questionnaires consist of a list of questions either standardized or developed solely for the purpose of competency mapping.

These questionnaires would differ based on who responds to it. For instance, there may be a questionnaire designed for employees, another designed for managers and another for senior-level executives. This is because both employees, managers and senior-level executives cannot provide the same information. The competencies required on the job will be known better by the person who is performing that job, that is the employee, and may differ from the opinion of the managers and senior-level executives.

A sample of competency-based questionnaire is the Common Metric Questionnaire (CMQ) that include five domains, namely, background, contact with people, decision making, physical and mechanical activity and work setting to examine competencies which would assist in improving work performance.

Another example is Functional Job Analysis (FJA) which is a qualitative analysis for competencies and breaks the job down to seven parts: things, data, worker instructions, reasoning, people, mathematics and language. Questionnaires like this can be utilized along with interviews in order to substantiate the collected information.

c) Assessment centres:

Unlike what the name suggests, assessment centres are not a location or a place but a process that helps to determine the degree of “fit” or suitability of employees to a specific type of employment or job role. An essential feature of assessment centres is that different elements of the job are simulated in the form of validated test series. The candidates are instructed to complete a number of assessments that are job-role specific in order to determine whether the key competencies of the candidate are aligned with the competencies required on the job. The series of tests focus mainly on assessing the individual based on their knowledge, skills, attitudes and other behaviors (KSAOs). Along with this, personality and aptitude is also determined using interview and psychometric tests.

d) Critical Incidents Technique:

Developed by Flanagan (1954), this technique involves direct observation of the employee in specific on-the-job situations. As a prior step, a list of good and bad on the job behavior is prepared.

These behaviors could be in terms of competencies needed and not needed on the job. The crux of the procedure involves observational skills which the supervisors and managers should develop with training. The supervisors and managers are required to note down critical incident on-the-job when the employee was successful or not successful in meeting the job requirements. It is imperative that the recording of observations is done as accurately as possible since the recorded data would be further used to identify and predict competencies that would contribute to success or failure of individual in a specific situation. At the end of the year, a balance sheet for each employee is created to find how well the employee has performed and what further training is needed (Balaji, 2011).

e) Psychometric Assessment:

These are standardized and scientific tools used to assess the mental capacities and behavioral styles of employees in an organization. In case of Competency Mapping, the most commonly used psychometric assessments are aptitude, reasoning, achievement, and personality testing.

Aptitude tests help to determine the capacity of the individual to acquire particular type of skill or knowledge. Reasoning tests helps to determine the critical and analytical thinking of the individual. Achievement tests help to determine the level of proficiency an individual has achieved in a given area and personality testing gives a description of the unique traits and characteristics that drive the employee’s behavior. Apart from these, competency mapping rating scale may also be used as a part of assessment.

It should be noted that it is not a single tool but a combination of these tools that are used in the process of competency mapping in organizations. One tools substantiates the other and gives a more accurate and comprehensive result.