Competency and competence differ in their meanings. Therefore, before moving on to discussing competency management and its implications on organisational and individual performance, we need to resolve this issue Which term do we use in this book and what do we mean by it?

The confusion and the SMR response

With an understanding of the terms such as competency, competence, core competency, and role competence, we at SMR use the following terms and meanings as given here:

Competent: A person is said to be competent when his or her level of competence (suitability/ability) is recognised and verified by a community of practitioners.

Competency: Refers to overt (visible) characteristics like knowledge and skills and underlying (hidden) characteristics such
as attitudes, motives, traits, self-concept, and values that drive performance to pre-determined standards.

The purpose of defining these terms is to adopt a practical approach rather than engage in a theoretical debate. This stand enables us to either focus on threshold competencies (knowledge and skills) or the underlying characteristics causally related to superior performance, depending on the organisational needs and culture.

Levels of competency

Competencies relate to various levels in the organisation:

  • Organisational level
  • Positional level
  • Individual level

Types of competency

Further to our definition of competencies, SMR follows the following classification:

1. Core competencies: They correspond to the organisational level. We follow the same definition as the one provided by Hamel and Prahlad.

2. Functional competencies: They describe the work tasks and outputs, i.e., knowledge and skills needed to perform a job. They correspond to positional level.

3. Behavioural competencies: They refer to the underlying characteristics needed to perform a job and correspond to the individual level.

4. Role competencies: They correspond to the positional level and refer to the roles performed by team contributors.


Content taken from COMPETENCY MANAGEMENT : A Practitioner’s Guide by R.Palan