Competency vs. Skill Matrix
In teaching and workplace training, we frequently encounter two terms that seem interchangeable at first, but as we work to refine our craft, we find they are really quite different. You already know we are talking about “skills” and “competencies.” In a recent article, we discussed the differences and similarities between these two ideas.
We have also covered the characteristics and benefits of skill matrices. Here, we will go into the differences, similarities, and overlapping areas between a competency matrix and a skill matrix.
This is important because we want to understand how the learner learns. But we also want to gain a better understanding of what it is we are doing when we attempt to track skills and competency and teach them.
Most of us have an intuitive understanding of skills and competency which is usually adequate. But we are going to examine these terms as they relate to skills and competencies matrices to understand what really separates these two key ideas.
The difference between competencies and skills
As discussed in our article on skills and competencies, a competency is a capability and a skill is usually a learned task. For example, a competency can develop from a talent or habit or can be made up of one or more skills. A skill, by contrast, is an ability that is learned. Skills can also be enhanced by talent or interest. It might help to think of competency as a category that can include skills and skillsets. In skill and competency matrices, we can track these two things separately or together, depending on your needs.
Knowledge, skills, and competencies
Knowledge does not impart a skill, but it can, just as a skill can create a competency. But, this isn’t always necessarily the case. To possess a competency, one must have some kind of knowledge or skill. Because these things are not the same, we can track them in different matrices. We can also track ways in which they are different and ways in which they overlap.
The difference between competency and skill matrix
Typing is better described as a skill than a competency. Writing is better described as a competency than a skill, though one can certainly contribute to success in the other. To track skills in typing and writing, we would do best to track them on different charts, or at least, in different categories. With skills matrix software, the overlap between these two areas and people who might work well toward a similar goal can be matched and paired according to the needs of your organization.
Before we get into exactly what a competency matrix is, we need to understand the real meaning of “competency.”
Competency meaning: Knowledge, behaviors, or tendencies that lead an individual to be successful in a given activity.
To understand the word fully, we need to realize that the word “compete” is a close relative. A person can be skilled and knowledgeable and still lack the ability to perform with competence. Our concept when designing the skills/competence matrices was to give you a way to build competence in your workforce through a robust analysis of skills, knowledge, and performance.
Another important competency synonym to consider is “ability.” Of course, in business, we must remain competitive, so the word “compete” helps us to grasp this. Employee core competencies need to rise to the level of competitiveness in order to actually be competent. The good news is that skills and competence matrices give you the tools you need to find the path to develop employee competence rather than passively waiting for it to emerge at a critical moment.
You may have noticed that the idea of competency is still fairly cloudy. This is due to the fact that a competency can exist with or without skills. It can be made up of one or multiple skills, talents, knowledge, inclinations, or even an inborn disposition. Competencies start to shine when we emboss them with critical skills and knowledge. For clarity, let’s look at a few more competency examples.
Leadership: Another competency made up of skills, knowledge, and talent, leadership is necessary for every endeavor involving teams. A good leader can set expectations, define goals, and motivate teams through their personality and passion.
Design: The ability to conceive of a device, product, or service which meets a need that remains unfulfilled is a competency of the highest value. It is something people like Steve Jobs excelled at. If you have someone who is competent in design, helping them to gain engineering skills would be a great boon to their abilities.
Communication: Making people understand complex concepts and ideas is a competence made up of a number of skills and talents. With the addition of some psychology and marketing skills, communication is among the list of the most powerful types of competencies with examples like narrative storytelling, motivational speaking, and the like.
Core competencies examples
According to Investopedia, core competencies are abilities and resources that make up strategic advantages in the business world. They include, but are not limited to:
- Time management
Examples of core skills
Until now, we’ve focused largely on competencies. This is due to the fact that a competency can be a skill, can be made up of multiple skills, or can even exist in the absence of skill. But in the workplace, skills are non-negotiable. And, skills may be viewed as a basic metric of capability.
- Team Building
- Writing Skills
- Strategic Management
- Speaking and Listening Skills
- Data Management
- Persuading and Influencing Team Members
- Planning and Organization