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Performance management programs are useful in determining the overall quality of an employee’s job performance. However, competency-based performance reviews evaluate an employee’s core competencies as well as specific job skills and competencies. Both core competencies and job skills and competencies are what employees utilize to perform their assigned duties and tasks.
Core competencies are basic characteristics, attributes or skills. Examples of core competencies are verbal and written communication skills, analytical and critical thinking processes, independent judgment and time management capabilities. These competencies are transferable across various industries because an employee utilizes the same core competencies in every job she holds. Core competencies can also be developed or refined as an employee acquires more exposure to the workforce and increases her professional expertise.
The skills necessary to perform a particular job or work in certain occupations are referred to as job competencies. Job competencies are also called job knowledge since they relate to a specific line of work. For example, job competencies for registered nurses include knowledge of human body systems, medication administration and understanding of how drug compounds affect certain ailments and clinical procedures, such as starting an intravenous medication site or reading telemetry reports on cardiology patients. Job competencies are essentially what qualify you to work in your field. However, core competencies must complement job competencies for an employee to be suitably qualified to work.
Because it takes both core competencies and job competencies to actually be a productive worker, competency-based performance reviews focus on three areas: core competencies, job competencies and the use of both to perform job assignments and duties. For example, a registered nurse who is proficient in starting an IV for medication but has poor communication skills is incapable of giving quality patient care since so much of healthcare depends on how well providers communicate with their patients. Quality patient care is more important than clinical expertise; healthcare providers must demonstrate their ability to put patients at ease through both verbal and nonverbal communication. Likewise, an administrative assistant who demonstrates excellent proficiency with software applications but has poor or nonexistent organizational skills cannot be effective in his job.
Competency-Based Performance Improvement
Supervisors and employees usually work together to develop performance improvement plans based on the results of competency-based reviews. A performance improvement plan dedicated to raising competency levels is a combined effort between supervisor and employee that begins with the employee acknowledging her deficiencies. A plan for improvement may consist of job skills training, mentoring, coaching or a combination of resources for building up core competencies, job competencies or both. For instance, the nurse who has difficulty using appropriate communication skills may need to complete training on effective communication techniques for healthcare providers. After completing her formal training, she may be assigned to work closely with another registered nurse or clinical nurse leader to put her newly acquired communication skills to use under the guidance of a supervisor or team leader.
Competency-based performance reviews have numerous benefits for employees and employers. They are comprehensive measurements that assess overall job performance yet examine basic, fundamental work skills. They also foster open communication between a supervisor and employee because these types of reviews require employee introspection as well as supervisor observation and assessment. Improvement plans for competency-based reviews are effective because they often focus on total job performance, not just one specific area.