How to Acquire
Competencies can be developed. However it doesn’t
happen overnight. The person you are working with must make a concerted
and sustained effort over a period of several months if he or she wants to
add competencies to his repertoire.
When working with organizations to design and
implement a development program, consider walking them through the graph
below. Note that coaching, when combined with other development
initiatives, can have a significant impact on performance improvement.
A competency is a measurable
characteristic of a person that is related to effective performance in a
specific job, organization, or culture. These characteristics may include
required to perform a task to an outstanding level of performance
Skill—the ability to
perform a task or activity that leads to an exemplary level of
attitudes, values, or self-image
characteristics and one’s consistent responses to situations or
Motives—things that a
person consistently thinks about or wants that causes him/her to act
These characteristics are defined in
terms of behaviors—those thoughts and actions of outstanding performers.
Because competencies are behavioral, they can be developed.
The Competency Acquisition Process
The process of competency development is comprised of five steps:
1. Recognition: “I know the behavior when I
2. Understanding: “I know why it is important.”
3. Self-Assessment: “I recognize the gap between what I do
and the target behavior, and set goals to close the gap.”
4. Practice: “I give myself a chance to practice new behaviors in
a controlled setting.”
5. Application: “I demonstrate the new behavior in my daily
Who Should Be Chosen to Provide Feedback?
Ask each person you are coaching to
select a number of individuals who can provide him or her with objective
and credible feedback.
Suggest that they choose individuals
with whom they have had—
Frequent contact (multiple
times per month or more)
Recent contact (within the
past six months)
A long working relationship
(one year or more)
Diverse contact (over a
variety of work-related settings)
As a coach, you can work with the other person on
each of the first
four steps of the competency acquisition process. You can help this
person achieve mastery of the competencies on the job through your
encouragement and observation.
You can do this by helping the person to—
- Understand what he or she needs to achieve
success, and why
- Set a manageable goal
- Structure competency practice in a safe setting
These activities and your support can add enormous
value to the progress and accomplishments of the person you are coaching.
Talking about Development in the Competence Building Process
Development requires focus and commitment. It
requires setting goals and direction. It requires support and follow-up,
and measurement of progress.
You can be particularly helpful in the goal-setting
process. There are
10 questions that should be answered to ensure that 1) the person
is setting the right goals for him-/herself, and 2) he or she will be
successful in reaching those development goals.
Ten Goal-Setting Questions from the coaching
process at HayMcBer
1. What are the one or two things you would like to
do differently to achieve better results in your job?
2. To what extent are you personally invested in
addressing those areas?
3. What are the one or two competencies that, if
consistently demonstrated, will help you achieve those intended results?
4. What specific goals will you set for yourself to
make you successful?
5. What are the key things you need to do in order
to achieve these goals?
6. How will you plan to deal with setbacks that may
interfere with the achievement of your goals?
7. What kind of support will you need to be
successful in making these changes?
8. What steps will you take to ensure you get this
9. By what date will you have achieved measurable
progress toward achieving these goals?
10. What will performance, both yours and the
organization’s, look like when you have reached your goals?
Use these questions in your conversation to help
bring focus and commitment to the goal-setting and development process.
Are you ready for Coach Training?