competency mapping-resized-600 “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” This is a common misquote from Alice in Wonderland. However, it works when we talk about training. How many times do companies send employees off on courses without first assessing the individual need for that training, thus wasting everyone’s time, energy and money! Competency mapping is a way to give a clear indication of what training is needed, on an individualized basis.

The competency map is really a spreadsheet that captures all the skills needed, in competency terms, for an occupation or an area of work. It may have profiles that are specific to jobs within that occupation. For example, the occupation of Transport Trailer Technician may have a position that only deals with tire maintenance in a large operation.

Competency mapping is not just a list of skills and knowledge or a job description, including the often used but incredibly useless phrase “other duties as may be required”. It is developed by analyzing a position from a competency perspective and expressing all the terms as outcomes. The trick here is that each skill expressed must conform to the unstated preamble, “the person must be able to…”, not “the person must know…”. Once you have all skills identified and organised in areas of competency, you have a competency map.

So now what can we do with the competency map?

  1. An employee in a position can evaluate himself/herself as to his/her level of competency in each skill. The employer/supervisor can do the same so they, with the individual employee, can identify priorities that allow productive training.
  2. An employer can look at the skills presented by a prospective employee and see how well those skills match up with the skills needed to fill a position. The employer can look at specific strengths and weaknesses, not just generalities.
  3. A competency map that covers all skill areas in a position may allow an employee to see the skills required to move to the next level in that position and concentrate future development of skills in that area.
  4. A competency map can be revised or added to as the position changes without a major revision of the job description. Just take out what is no longer relevant and add new skills required.
  5. A competency map connects the dots on the knowledge acquisition continuum. Each skill is a combination of knowledge, experience and attitude. Some of these are consistent across many skill areas.

Competency mapping: the road map to where you are and where you want to be in skills acquisition.

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