Competencies: The Root of Modern HR

In 1961 famous psychologist Dave McClelland had issued his historical work `Achieving Society`. He had distinguished three the most basic internal patterns (needs or motives) in power, achievement, and affiliation. Therefore, he had raised the question of hidden and visible qualities, that help people to succeed.

That has led to distinguishing five layers of such qualities: motives, traits, self-concepts, knowledge, and skills. And they influence our effectiveness in the respectively descendant order.

A few groups of students of McClelland had made wider research on this question. They had interviewed a great number of top-performers in different areas and had asked them about qualities are needed to succeed. They had collected a great amount of data, applied cluster analysis to them, distinguished and rated the most valued of such qualities (around 500 ones). Then they had described their methodology (that is mostly focused around Behavioral Event Interview) and these management qualities, and as a result, they had published the next three books:
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Now such qualities are called competencies – our `features` actually making us able to compete. On the highest level these qualities can be grouped to the next clusters:
  • Business: 
    • Entrepreneurial (focus on achievement, prospective visioning, ...) 
    • Managerial (planning and directiveness, ...) 
    • Executive (GTD and focus on quality, ...) 
  • Intrapersonal:
    • Emotional (self-awareness and stress tolerance, ...) 
    • Creative (brainstorming and copywriting, ...) 
    • Cognitive (analytical and conceptual thinking, ...) 
  • Interpersonal: 
    • Communicational (active listening and public speaking, ...) 
    • Cross-cultural (foreign language and culture tolerance, ...) 
    • Social (knowledge transfer and teamwork, ...) 
Please, note that there are only general managerial skills, that can be applied to any worker in any direction. And specific professional qualities (out of the managerial field) we should treat separately:
  • Professional:
    • Specialization (the professional knowledge – so-called `hard skills`) 
    • Domain knowledge (business context – knowledge in a field a person works in) 
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By outlining specific competencies we can build a clear scale for each of them. Taking that scales as a background we can ask simple questions to ourselves and to the other people. Thus we can identify any competence in an easy and intuitive way. And that is the very core of modern HR.

P. S. Every formal scale has both positive and negative parts of the axis. And zero-knowledge (knowing nothing) is much better than having the experience that has taught us wrong things – we usually make mistakes being sure of something and having a wrong background at the same time. 'Cause in that case we do mistakes with fanatic confidence and listening to nobody.