Competence Management

Competence can be described as the ability of every president, CEO, VP, director, manager, supervisor and employee/contractor to undertake responsibilities and perform activities to a relevant standard, to rules and procedures. It addresses the combination of training, skills, experience, knowledge, behaviour, attitude and actions that a person has and their ability and willingness to perform work and tasks safely and efficiently. Other factors, such as physical and intellectual ability can also affect someone's competence. Taylor & Taylor Consultants value competency and place Competence at the Core of everything we do. We'd like to assist your company or organisation in placing Competence at the Core in everything you do to be more successful and safer.

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Companies and organisations should take into account the competence of all employees and contractors when assigning work to be performed, whether in human resources, engineering, manufacturing, finance, leadership, management, supervision etc., and especially from a safety perspective when risk assessments are to be conducted. Understanding and assessing the levels of competency required for job roles, work and tasks will assist in determination of the level of information, instruction, training and supervision that must be provided.

Competence in process and occupational health and safety to ensure safe work activities, a safe working environment and to prevent major disasters, accidents and injuries should be seen as an important component of workplace activities, not just an add-on or afterthought.

Competence at work is important to address, particularly so as contemporary events show that the inadequate management of competence has not only contributed to disasters such as Esso Longford and BP Texas City, but also to industry-wide (particularly railway, mining, forestry and agriculture) failures, fatalities, personal injuries and ill health. Competence is required on every level of the organisation and in every job. Competence and being competent leads to an efficient, productive workplace, a safer workplace and will reduce the cost to business resulting from accidents or incompetence.

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We'd like to assist your company or organisation in placing Competence at the Core in everything you do to be more successful and safer.

Competence management is the arrangement to control, logically and in an integrated manner, cycles of activities within the organisation that will assure, and develop, competent performance. It ensures performance is managed and that individuals are clear about the performance that is expected of them, that they have received appropriate training, development and competence assessment, and that they maintain, or develop, their competence over time. There should be a balance between competence achieved and supervision.

To remain competitive companies and organisations constantly need to strive for, and drive performance further. To manage this process a structured and well-managed competence management process is pivotal.

Training For Competence

iStock 000019319732SmallTraining and competence assessment methods should be appropriate to the profile of the work and tasks being undertaken. It must be understood that training delivery alone will not establish competency. Training and demonstration of knowledge and skills through practice is a key part of developing competency.

Training 'on-the-job' should be structured and linked to procedures and where appropriate, to site-specific aspects, hazards, risk assessments and associated control measures. In safety critical environments, 'on-the-job' training should be supported by other forms of training where appropriate e.g. training in the classroom, simulation, coaching etc.

All training should be validated, evaluated, assessed (trainees assessed) and recorded within the competency management system (CMS) and linked to the learning management system (LMS). Refresher training must be provided for infrequent, complex or safety critical tasks and this should include appropriate reassessment of competency.

Companies and organisations must take steps to ensure that contractors are competent to carry out health and safety-related work. There must be a clear understanding and knowledge of the product or service being supplied, and that work can be appropriately managed and overseen to set standards.

Competency Management System (CMS)

A robust CMS will help provide an efficient way to maintain a skilled, competent and effective workforce, which in turn will see a reduced frequency and severity of incidents and accidents. Having a fully auditable CMS in place will create a climate of confidence with employees, suppliers, outsourcers, stakeholders and both internal and external customers. It will also provide a means to ensure corporate governance and compliance.

A CMS should be able to identify skills, competencies and training requirements for jobs, tasks and all personnel, targeting those who need updating and re-assessment.

Personnel appointed to positions will have specific performance targets they must achieve, and these should contain specific and measurable objectives which make reviewing or assessing performance that much easier. A performance review or appraisal main focus should be on how well an individual has progressed towards meeting their targets.

A CMS is generally not a 'stand alone' system. Contributory elements to its success should include processes (and the willingness to utilise them) of performance management and review, incident investigation, workplace observation, coaching, smart recruitment, change management, sub standard performance/discipline and selection and control of contractors.

Competency Framework

Within the CMS is a framework for training and development that applies to techniques, behaviour and overall competency. The competency framework is derived from analysis of job roles, person specifications and job descriptions (which rely in the first instance on the competency and willingness of the Human Resources function to formulate them). This can assist in the objective review of training and development needs. It can also aid in the design of training and development activities.

The competency framework will allow for transparent objective identification of talent against the criterion defined by a recruiter on searching, and may even allow comparison of job applications against job role/person specification/status etc. Thus, talent can be nurtured on the basis of competencies and capabilities.

A competency framework will also identify behaviours and critical competencies necessary for effective performance, especially where safety is to be addressed, and provide a benchmark for decision-making.

Competency frameworks within a CMS can provide a fully auditable system to gain industry recognition for training standards within your organisation or from external bodies.

Competency frameworks are now often seen as an essential vehicle for achieving high organisational performance through focussing and reviewing each individual's capability and potential.  Moreover a competency framework can be a key element in any change management process by setting out new organisational requirements to meet business goals.

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Competence Assurance

Competence assurance should be linked to key responsibilities, activities and tasks identified in job roles, person specifications, job descriptions and risk assessments. Competence assurance systems should establish and maintain competency for all employees and contractors, especially those involved in safety-related work, including managers in the management and prevention of accidents, injuries or harm to health. They should take account of foreseeable work and operating conditions, including infrequent and complex activities, emergency situations and un-predicted events, maintenance etc.

Competency assurance systems for safety critical tasks should be more robust than for non-safety roles and tasks.

Contact Taylor & Taylor Consultants to embark on the journey to high organisational performance through competence management.