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What Is Competence? – Here Are Simple Steps To Achieve It

Competence is something that you or anyone can achieve. To put it simply it is the ability to do something well. We are not born competent. So what is competence? It is a result of a process, For you to become competent there are 5 levels of competency from novice to expert. This article will give you the facts on being competent and also give you an explanation of competencies that corporate Human Resources (HR) is always talking about.

What Is Competence – A Simple Definition.

The word competence and related terms are well defined in Human Relationship (HR) departments. Competencies are important to HR to acquire and groom workers for success in their corporations. For the rest of us, we need a simple definition of what is competence. I like this definition of competence: 

the ability to do something well.

Competence is a worthy goal for all of us. Everyone has the opportunity to add value by developing our skills, knowledge, and abilities to do something well.

Levels of Competence

What is Competence?

People are not just born with competence. There are steps or levels of competence that you need to become competent in a given endeavor or profession. The Dreyfus brothers proposed that there are five levels of competence. Below are their five levels of competence and description of what each level of competence entails:

  1. Novice. Rule-based behavior, strongly limited and inflexible
  2. Experienced Beginner. Incorporates aspects of the situation
  3. Practitioner. Acting consciously from long-term goals and plans
  4. Knowledgeable Practitioner. Sees the situation as a whole and acts from personal conviction
  5. Expert. Has an intuitive understanding of the situation and zooms in on the central aspects

See Wikipedia’s Competence (human resources) for more information on levels of competence.

What are Competencies? 

It is not so simple to define competencies as it is to define competence. Competencies have become a very technical term in the realm of HR. HR literature describes competencies as:

observable behaviors that successful performers demonstrate on the job. Those behaviors are the result of various abilities, skills, knowledge, motivations, and traits an employee may possess”.

Here is a simple formula to remember what competencies are:

Skills + Knowledge + Abilities = Competencies.

Types of competencies that fit an organization’s culture and success goals can include behavioral (ex. communicates effectively), functional (ex. knows MS Word), management (ex. motivates others), organizational (ex. teamwork), and technical (ex. cyber security) competencies. These end up being the core competencies that differentiate an organization from its competition.

See HRSG What’s the Difference Between Skills and Competencies? and Wikipedia’s Competence (human resources) for information on competence and competencies.

For more information from Unvarnished Facts, see the articles on learning.

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