Best Practices for Managing Employee Competency
It is not uncommon for people to think about the skills required to perform a job without thinking about how they are going to test that their employees or new hires are actually competent in those skills. It is one thing for a new hire to have told you they can safely operate a forklift, or that they know how to manage a team, but how do you verify that they can actually perform these tasks in a way that will help your business and ensure everyone stays safe?
First you must make sure you understand the types of competency and how to assess them. Once you have those basics down you can think about the ways you are going to manage the process and begin testing and recording employee skill competency.
Types of competency
Functional or practical competencies are things that you can test regarding a specific on the job skill. As the name would suggest, these are the direct functions that allow the employee to carry out their tasks.
In the opening paragraph we mentioned the example of forklift competency. In this case the functional or practical competency would be related to the direct operation of the forklift and doing so in compliance with industry and company guidelines and regulations.
Some ways you could test an employee’s competency would include,
Have the employee demonstrate the steps they would take before and during the operation of the forklift without actually having them use the equipment. This will give you general sense for how competent they are without putting themselves and others at risk if it turns out they really had no idea how to operate the forklift in a safe manner.
Have the employee perform tasks that will be a part of their everyday work while you watch and assess their performance. This will be similar to how a driving instructor watches and scores your ability to drive a vehicle.
Ensure you have a standardized digital form that you can follow as you assess the employee. This will allow consistency throughout your organization. Once completed you can upload the form into your training record management software to keep track of which employees have been assessed and where the gaps may be.
Behavioral competency is closer to the soft skills that you will be asking about during an interview, especially in the case of management. These skills include things like, leadership ability, honesty, ethics, ability to manage a team, etc.
Behavioral competencies can be a bit harder to assess without watching how the employee performs in the actual role. For instance, an interviewee could tell you they have a strong history of managing a team, but until you see how well they delegate, keep track of multiple responsibilities, and lead their department, you will not know for sure.
Similar to the functional competency, we recommend you use a digital form that can be saved in your training records management software. A behavioral competency assessment could include performance reviews at set periods like 3, 6, and 12 months after hiring.
Again, it is important that this is a standardized process for all employees to ensure fair treatment and to allow anyone in the company to know what a passing competency score actually means.
Online competency assessments allow you to better understand the real-world skill set of your employees whether it is a functional or practical skill, or if it is a behavioral skill like leadership. Competency testing takes it one step further than a written test or assessment and provides even better controls over your companies safety and performance.