Chapter 7: Competency Management: A Necessary Pillar in a Human Capital Strategy


Competency management deals with determining the types and levels of capabilities (i.e., competencies) that an organization would like each employee to achieve in an organization. Performance management is complementary to competency management in that performance management determines how well the individual is achieving the stated competencies.

Most organizations include roles and competencies for its workforce. Roles are usually defined in the context of positions in the organization, with an attempt to fit all employees under several broad areas. There are also professional skill competencies that are common throughout the organization. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has a professional skills competency framework. According to this framework, there are fourteen FHWA roles: office support, administrative specialist, human resource specialist, project managers, program managers, technical managers, technical/information technology specialist, regulatory specialist, legal counsel, marketing/communications specialist, research and development specialist, team leaders, unit leaders, and senior leaders. FHWA also has categorized its competencies into two major areas, professional competencies and business management competencies, and has further developed these categories into subcategories as follows:

  • Business Management Competencies: include competencies related to common organizational management practices and techniques.

    • Organizational Competencies: include planning, evaluation, and understanding the parameters in which the organization operates as well as the factors that impact the organization.

    • Management: represents competencies that deal with daily operations and support of the organization.

    • Marketing: represents competencies needed to assess customer needs and then accommodate those needs in the products and services that are subsequently offered.

  • Professional Competencies: represent basic interpersonal competencies required to perform a job in any discipline.

    • Communications: represents competencies that deal with concise and effective interactions between other individuals as well as internal and external organizations.

    • Self/Life Management: includes balancing personal and professional characteristics appropriately to meet the demands of the workplace.

    • Interpersonal Competencies: deal with the quality, scope, and savvy involved in individual and group dealings.

    • Leadership Competencies: involve providing direction and guidance to others as well as facilitating structure and teamwork.

Then, each of these competencies are delineated further. Communications, for example, includes listening, presentation-formal, oral communication, written communication, facilitation, and media interaction. For each of the roles identified, there are three levels of proficiency that each role requires relative to each of the individual competencies. These include: Basic (must have knowledge of general terms, concepts, processes, and objectives of the competency); Intermediate (must apply the competency to perform common tasks); and Accomplished (must use the competency to perform complex tasks requiring creativity and judgment).

Other competency frameworks and models have been developed by government agencies and the private sector. The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) has developed a competency model for HR (human resources) professionals that includes five components, as the following table shows (




  • Mission oriented

  • Strategic planner

  • Systems innovator

  • Understands team behavior


  • Takes risk

  • Ethical

  • Decisive

  • Develops staff

  • Creates trust

HR Expert

  • Knows HR principles

  • Customer oriented

  • Applies business procedures

  • Manages resources

  • Uses HR tools


  • Values diversity

  • Resolves conflict

  • Communicates well

  • Respects others

Change Agent

  • Manages change

  • Consults

  • Analyzes

  • Uses coalition skills

  • Influences others

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Personnel Resources and Development Center has also developed a Human Resources competency model based on this model and others. The roles and competencies in the OPM Human Resources Competency Model are shown in the following table (



Strategic Partner

  • Organizational awareness

  • Problem solving

  • Customer service

  • Stress tolerance

  • Oral communication


  • Decision-making

  • Planning and evaluation

  • Conflict management

  • Self-management

  • Self-esteem

  • Oral communication

Employee Champion

  • Flexibility

  • Teaching others

  • Learning

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Oral communication

Technical Expert

  • Technical competence

  • Legal, government, and jurisprudence

  • Personnel and human resources

  • Information management

  • Arithmetic

  • Mathematical reasoning

  • Customer service

  • Writing

  • Reading

  • Memory

  • Attention to detail

  • Oral communication

Change Consultant

  • Teamwork

  • Reasoning

  • Influencing/Negotiating

  • Integrity/Honesty

  • Creative thinking

  • Oral communication

  • Stress tolerance

As another example of an HR competency framework, the Department of Defense (DoD) has developed an HR competency framework. They have various positions including human resources generalists, staffing specialists, classification specialist, labor relations specialist, employee development specialist, personnel systems manager, personnel support, and DoD manager. The competencies are ( shown in the following table:

Business Management Competencies

  • Business process reengineering

  • Change management

  • Contract management

  • Cost-benefit analysis

  • Customer relations

  • Financial management

  • Marketing

  • Negotiating

  • Organizational awareness

  • Organizational needs assessment

  • Outcome measures and evaluation

  • Project management

  • Strategic human resource practices

  • Strategic planning

Professional Competencies

  • Coaching and mentoring

  • Communication

  • Conflict management

  • Decision-making

  • Ethics

  • Facilitation

  • Interpersonal relations

  • Problem-solving

  • Self-management

  • Teamwork

  • Technology application

Technical HR Competencies

  • Appeals, grievances, and litigation

  • Attendance and leave

  • Benefits

  • Career development

  • Compensation

  • Discipline and adverse action

  • Employee assistance

  • Equal employment opportunity

  • Human resource management fundamentals

  • Instructional systems development

  • Instructional technology

  • Job analysis

  • Labor management relations

  • Organizational development

  • Organization and position design

  • Pay administration

  • Performance management

  • Personnel assessment

  • Personnel systems management

  • Position classification

  • Reduction-in-force

  • Rewards and recognition

  • Staffing and recruiting

  • Succession planning

The State Government of Maine has a Final Management Competency Model that includes leadership competencies, effective problem-solver competencies, and stewardship competencies. Under leadership competencies, the following apply: models integrity, effective communicator, supportive coach, and visionary. For effective problem-solver competencies, one should be an analytical thinker, a systems thinker, and creative. For stewardship competencies, the following apply: being customer-focused and results-oriented, and having sound judgment (

In the United Kingdom, the Government Information and Communication Service has developed a competency framework. Eight competencies are highlighted in this framework (

  • Professional knowledge: you develop and apply your communications expertise to achieve results and improve professional practice.

  • Determination: you overcome obstacles and maximize your impact and personal contribution.

  • Creativity: you offer creative and imaginative ways to better communicate and solve problems.

  • Communication: you ensure that your message is clear and that it is understood.

  • Cooperation: you have productive working relationships within and beyond the team.

  • Judgment: you offer well-thought-out solutions to problems and take sound decisions.

  • Organization: you deliver projects and results on time within available resources.

  • Leadership and vision: you inspire the team with a clear vision and sense of purpose.

The September 2001 GAO Report on "Human Capital: Practices that Empowered and Involved Employees" (GAO Report-01-1070) discusses the importance of applying approaches so that government employees feel empowered to make appropriate, well-informed decisions. The report echoes the need for many of the competencies previously cited and suggests that employee empowerment is a critical component for achieving these competencies at high levels of proficiency. The full GAO report is included at the end of the book.

Addressing the Human Capital Crisis in the Federal Government. A Knowledge Management Perspective
Addressing the Human Capital Crisis in the Federal Government: A Knowledge Management Perspective
ISBN: 0750677139
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 89
Authors: Jay Liebowitz © 2008-2017.
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