Competence development is crucial in today’s working world. In the face of constant change and rapidly evolving workplace demands, it is necessary to continuously develop and adapt employees’ skills and competencies.
But what exactly is behind the term “competence development” and why is it so important? In this article, we will take a comprehensive look at the topic, considering it both in the context of work and in a broader context. We’ll explore the different types of competencies, highlight the importance of competency development to career success, and share proven methods and interventions to promote competency development. Let’s dive in together and explore the exciting world of competency development.
Competency development definition
In a professional context, competence development describes the process of people improving their skills in order to be more successful in their job. It is about acquiring new knowledge, gaining practical experience and developing better ways of working. Skills development allows us to build on our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. It is a way to grow professionally, take on more responsibility and achieve our personal as well as professional improvement goals.
What are competencies?
In order to understand what competency development is, one must first understand what competencies actually are. The word competence can be derived from the Latin = “competentia” and “competere”, which means “suitability” and “to be sufficient, to coincide, to be capable of something”.
Accordingly, competencies amount to the skills, knowledge and characteristics that a person possesses and that enable him or her to successfully complete tasks. They include both technical skills and generic competencies such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving.
Competencies are not set in stone, but can be developed and improved. For example, someone who still has difficulty communicating can develop their communication skills and become more effective through targeted training and practice. So competencies are like tools that we use in our professional lives to do our jobs better and be successful.
For example, imagine a project manager. His or her professional competencies could include mastering project management methods, understanding financial planning, or the ability to schedule. But beyond that, he or she also needs generic skills such as the ability to lead teams, resolve conflicts, or communicate effectively. It is this combination of professional and generic competencies that makes it possible to successfully complete projects and work efficiently with team members.
The 4 core competences of competency development
In the field of vocational education, competence development is based on four forms of core competence:
Essential characteristics of self-competence and, consequently, of self-development are, reflectiveness, critical faculties, determination, self-confidence, flexibility, reliability, sense of duty and responsibility, and independence. Self-competence is therefore the ability to recognize where one wants to go and how one can proactively achieve this goal.
Self-competence thus encompasses a variety of characteristics and skills that enable a person to understand him or herself, to recognize his or her strengths and weaknesses, and to actively control his or her behavior. Reflectivity is a central component of self-competence because it enables people to critically examine their own actions and decisions and learn from them. Self-competent people are also able to deal with uncertainty and change by remaining flexible and adaptable. They take responsibility for their own growth and set goals to drive their development.
Social competence refers to a person’s ability to interact successfully with others and communicate effectively in social contexts. Empathy is an essential component of social competence because it enables one to understand and respond to the perspectives and feelings of others. Additionally, social competence includes the ability to cooperate, resolve conflict, and maintain positive interpersonal relationships. Socially competent people can work effectively in teams, consider different points of view, and work together to find solutions.
In the work context, social competence primarily describes teamwork skills. The competence to work constructively with each other within a team. Soft skills such as empathy and willingness to compromise are essential here. A team building can help to make these skills tangible.
Professional competence refers to the specific knowledge and skills required in a particular area of work. It includes an understanding of theoretical concepts, practical applications, and best practices in a specialized field. Professional competence is developed and maintained through education, experience, and continuous learning. It enables an individual to perform tasks with technical accuracy and efficiency and to address complex challenges. Professional competence may also include understanding current trends and developments in a particular field of work in order to remain relevant and competitive.
Methodological competence describes a person’s ability to apply various methods, tools, and techniques to effectively accomplish tasks and solve problems. This includes the ability to research, analyze, and interpret information to make informed decisions. Methodologically competent individuals are able to select appropriate work and problem-solving strategies, plan and organize their work processes, and find efficient ways to solve problems. They are open to new approaches and willing to continuously expand their knowledge to meet the changing demands and challenges of their work environment.
Methodology of competence development
Basically, competence development means continuous learning. This can happen in a targeted way, or quite casually, during the work process. The methodology of competence development is a structured approach to specifically develop and strengthen people’s competences. It involves various steps and strategies to identify individual learning goals, find appropriate development opportunities, and monitor progress.
First, a person’s existing competencies are analyzed to identify strengths and weaknesses. Based on this analysis, concrete learning objectives are set that encompass the desired competencies. Suitable development measures are then selected, such as continuing education, training, workshops or mentoring programs.
The actual implementation of the methodology involves active learning and application of new skills and knowledge in the work context. This can be done through practical exercises, feedback, retrospective, reflection, and regular evaluation of progress. The competency development methodology enables people to continuously develop, realize their potential, and achieve their professional goals.
The word “competence” is relatively abstract for many people. With the help of models, the topic becomes a lot more tangible. These models provide different perspectives on competencies and can be useful in identifying, developing, and assessing competencies in different contexts.
- The “Big Five” model of personality traits: This model identifies five basic personality dimensions, also known as the “Big Five”. These dimensions are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. The model is commonly used to assess people’s personality traits and can be used in personal development.
- The “T-Shaped Skills” Model: This model emphasizes the importance of both broad technical knowledge and specialized technical skills. The “T” in the metaphor represents the combination of horizontal broad knowledge and vertical specialized skills. It reflects the ability to possess both generic competencies and to master a subject area in depth.
- The “competence wheel” according to North: This model, developed by Prof. Klaus North, is based on the distinction between professional, methodological, social and personal competencies. It focuses on the different areas of competence and emphasizes their mutual complementation and interaction.
- The “McClelland Competence Model”: This model identifies three key competencies that are critical to professional success: Achievement Motivation, Social Skills, and Leadership Skills. It emphasizes the importance of individual motivation and behaviors to workplace performance.
- The “core competency model”: This model was developed by Prahalad and Hamel and refers to the strategic core competencies of an organization. It focuses on the specific capabilities, resources, and technologies that make an organization unique and give it competitive advantage.
The advantages of competence development
In a fast-paced, digitalized, ever-changing world, skills development is essential. The advantages for employees are obvious:
- Employees will have ban what they do. Only through continuous training is it possible to become and remain an expert in a particular field.
- Competence development also means improved self-organization. Employees acquire knowledge themselves by obtaining information.
- Competence development leads to increased satisfaction among employees. If they are deployed in accordance with their expertise, skills and abilities, this means they are valued. The result: satisfied employees work more effectively and are more motivated.
But skills development also has clear benefits for employers:
- The focus is clearly on employee engagement – the fact that employees can develop according to their abilities clearly increases employee satisfaction and, subsequently, employee retention.
- It also drives leadership development. It also helps identify key players.
- In employee reviews, goal agreements can be documented so that employees can develop according to their specific skills and abilities.
In our leadership workshop we shape the team leads of tomorrow in a playful way!
What is self-competence?
In the context of competence development, the term self-competence also comes up more and more often.
Self-competence means that one knows oneself well and knows how to handle oneself. One recognizes one’s own strengths and weaknesses and sets personal goals. Self-competent people can control their emotions, have self-confidence, and think about themselves for further development. They can act independently, take responsibility, and make decisions that suit them. Self-competence is important for managing oneself well and living a happy life.
An example of self-competence is Anna, who works in a team that has to deal with many conflicts. She recognizes that she reacts emotionally and often loses track of the situation. To better deal with the challenges, she reflects on her reactions, sets a goal to control her emotions, and participates in training to improve her conflict resolution and stress management skills. Through her efforts, she develops stronger self-competence, is able to remain calmer in conflict situations and find constructive solutions.
Competence development measures
Now you know about the theory of competence development. That’s all well and good, but how can competence development actually be implemented in a sustainable and targeted manner? The following measures can be used to develop competencies:
- Continuing education and training: Attending specific courses, workshops, or training sessions allows people to expand their expertise and learn new skills.
- Mentoring and Coaching: Working with experienced mentors or coaches provides individual support, feedback and guidance in personal and professional development.
- Job rotation and project work: By rotating between different tasks or participating in varied projects, employees can broaden their knowledge and develop different skills.
- Self-directed learning: Individual initiatives such as reading technical literature, watching online tutorials, or actively seeking feedback can contribute to personal skill development.
- Teamwork and Collaboration: Working together in teams enables the exchange of knowledge and experience, promotes communication and develops social skills.
- Reflection and feedback: Conscious reflection on one’s own experiences, strengths, and areas of development, as well as soliciting constructive feedback, supports personal growth and development processes.
- Use of new technologies: Exposure to new technologies and digital tools enables employees to develop their technical skills and digital literacy.
VIDEO: Finding your companies core competencies (Englisch)
FAQs Competency development
Which competencies should companies priorotize?
Working in companies, competencies such as teamwork, open communication, critical faculties, efficient working methods, empathy and agility are particularly important.
What is an example for competency development?
Imagine a tech company that provides regular education and training to its employees to enhance their technical skills. They have also introduced an internal mentoring program to promote knowledge sharing and personal development among employees. Through project-based work and job rotation, employees can acquire new skills and expand their experience in different areas. XYZ also emphasizes a culture of continuous learning and offers resources for self-directed learning. These measures help employees to develop and meet changing requirements, which contributes to the company’s innovative strength and competitiveness.