• Neale Harrison

The Importance of a Competency-Based Approach to Recruitment and Employee Development

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

Definition of Competencies


Competencies are defined as "the measurable characteristics of a person (e.g., behavioural skills, technical skills, attributes, attitude, etc.) that are related to success at work" .


Tools for Assessing Competencies


There are various tools and resources to assess how well an individual performs against pre-determined competencies. Many of these tools are based on significant amounts of research in the areas of management and executive development. These tools can be used to assess existing and prospective employees' level of capabilities in relation to leadership competencies. They can also be used to diagnosis developmental needs and create development plans in a highly targeted manner.


Once an organization has determined what leadership competencies are critical for driving business results, they can conduct a competency-based gap analysis of their current talent pool in order to identify how best to approach leadership development and organizational succession planning initiatives.


The Importance of a Competency-Based Approach to Recruitment and Employee Development

  1. Enables organizations to recruit for specific leadership competencies that are lacking or under developed within their current employee group.

  2. It enables organizations to articulate what leadership behaviours are key to driving professional and organizational value within a team or the broader organization.

  3. Organizations can be more strategic in how they deploy development dollars or opportunities to ensure they maximize their return on their professional development investment.

  4. Organizations can ensure they have the pre-requisite leadership competencies across their senior level executive teams. Example, some competency based research has determined that the most difficult leadership competencies to develop at the executive level are conflict management, innovation management, personal learning and understanding others. The same research also suggests that these competencies are the least prevalent within the general population. Therefore, assuming these competencies are critical to your organization, you would realize a greater benefit by hiring candidates into your organization who are already highly skilled in these competencies, versus over investing in professional development plans with current employees who are less skilled in them.

  5. Organizations that utilize competency based tools and a competency based approach to employee development and recruitment, are better positioned to have more meaningful discussions about what behaviours are directly linked to personal, professional, and organizational success.

  6. This approach also equips leaders to have more tangible fact based performance discussions across their teams and mitigate against talent assessment discussions being reduced to that of opinions and advocacy versus discussing measurable behavioural characteristics.

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