Five common competencies that left undefined and often lead to conflict or worse - termination of employment
I have been working on a project this past week to help define and document competencies required within (an) organization. This leads me to reflect on the expression, "Common sense? Well, it isn't so common!"

Over the course of 20 years and speaking with dozens, if not hundreds, of leaders I have come to the conclusion that most all employers are looking for that elusive employee who "just gets it." I am sure you have worked with or had the benefit of employing such an individual. The person who can not only identify a problem but works immediately to solve it without prompting.

More frequently, however, we see or work with the rest of the workforce: people who need defined roles and responsibilities. And so, as business owners, we work to provide the appropriate structure and spend hours complaining about employee turnover and lack of engagement. Hoping beyond all hope that the next applicant will be the one. Then, fast forward, just a few short weeks later and the same leader realizes this new person just "wasn't the right fit"; the whole process starts over again. Sound familiar?

This is where competencies come in. These are the things that leaders often consider as "common sense." Often they may be standards set through corporate norms but left unsaid, only required; most of the time they are neglected as part of the recruitment effort. Often, there exists a lack of competency that either precludes someone from advancing in their organization or keeps them from a good job — yet no one ever asked or shared the required competency(ies) with them in the first place.
For illustration, here are 5 common competencies that left undefined and often lead to conflict or worse - termination of employment:

  • Customer Service
  • Business Acumen
  • Written Communications
  • Flexibility
  • Conflict Management

A few years back I was interviewing individuals for a nursing position. I was excited to have a "live one" — you know, the unicorn. The person who had the resume showed up to the interview on time, made eye contact, smiled and had reviewed our website to understand all about our practice. We talked for an hour — I heard birds singing it went so well. Then, at the end of the interview, she asked, "I won't have to draw any blood, or provide injections right?" I indicated that there might be an instance — to which she replied, "needles make me faint."

I tell you this, not because I feel bad about the RN, but rather I almost made an epic fail by assuming a competency based on technical experience. She most certainly had the ability to get through a 4-year program at university and maintain a good job, but she couldn't perform a task that I had considered to be a core competency of the position. I mean, if she applied for the job, shouldn't she assume the very basic of skills is required before applying for the position? While this may be an easy example, think about other competencies that might be a little more subjective, like "takes initiative." What exactly does that look like?

So here it is, in a nutshell, the advise-portion of this article. Whether you are an employee wanting to advance, or in a supervisory position– don't assume or place judgment. Ask yourself, what competency is lacking? How can I define or improve to the benefit of my career? What gets in the way of just asking for improvement? It might be as simple as redefining or advancing a competency previously taken for granted.

*Bradison Management Group assists businesses with analyzing current processes, providing implementation support and employee engagement training.

About the Author
Paula Bradison
BMG CEO & Senior Consultant
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