Evolution of Competency Based Assessment

Competency based assessment owes its genesis to the traditional method of Job analysis where a detailed description explored how a job is done. It was used as a decision tool for a number of HR processes like hiring, promotions etc. Job Analysis however had minimal or no reference to the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for doing a job. To respond to the changing business needs and to enhance the performance of the Human Resources, the concept of competencies came into existence and over the years encompassed almost all aspects of HR processes. Hence, assessments processes used in organizations to take critical decisions were also influenced and integrated with the competencies. The obvious benefits being, a very specific and objective evaluation of employees for purposes like selection and hiring, performance and potential appraisal, role change and succession planning etc.

Since, job analysis provided very limited and restricted information regarding one particular job, with the changing times its usage for strategic decisions started becoming more and more obsolete. The new trend was to select and hire job incumbents who possessed more than one skill and would be able to flow in the organization both horizontally and vertically as and when required. To achieve it, assessing the competencies identified as critical for the organization, became the preferred choice.

Competency based assessment emerged as a tool which streamlined and integrated the HR processes of the organization to yield tangible and long term benefits. Some critical and cost intensive processes like Recruitment benefitted hugely from this approach. Along-with understanding the technical knowhow a job incumbent possessed for a given role, it also provided helpful insights into the organizational fit of the prospective role holder. This in turn goes a long way in managing the attrition level in the organization which emerged as the single biggest problem in certain sectors like IT and Retail.

It also revolutionized the trends in talent management and capability building of the employees. With clearly defined competencies and unanimous understanding of desired behaviors to be displayed within the organizations, the management had a clear perspective regarding the skill gaps and measures to identify and leverage the strengths. For the employees, it provided an opportunity to direct and redirect their self learning appropriately to achieve tangible results desired by the organization. A clear interpretation of organizational goals in one’s day to day working became possible because of the core competencies and frameworks adopted by the organization while competency based assessment paved the road for charting out one’s own career track for the employees in the organization.

The other important role that the competency based assessment has taken up is that of pay based on competencies, replacing the old ladder growth concept which depended on experience gained over long years. The competency based assessment works fine for the labor force which comprises mainly of a generation of workers who have grown up on a diet of instant coffee, noodles and fast food and want quick results. The competency based assessment promises fair evaluation of workers based on their value to the organization. The more competencies one acquires which contribute to the organizational values, the more rewarding is the pay for such an employee. This provides greater flexibility to the employees to plan their growth in the organization at their own pace.

The competency based assessment has found quite an acceptance in the corporate world however it also requires certain careful considerations before it is implemented. While opting for a competency based assessment all the stakeholders of the organization need to be in complete synchrony with the objectives, methods and desired results of such a system. Any method created for competency based assessment has to be relevant to the short and long term organizational goals and business objectives. Like any other change, this also has to follow a path of confusion, reluctance and suspicion from the employees before it is understood and embraced by them to become a high performing organization.


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