Knowing your own abilities and being able to improve them for a job is vital if you want to excel at your job. Moreover, improving prepares you for career advancement or transferring to better positions in the future. In this article, we will show you how you ways to target these in a way that is successful. By using the process in this list, you will be able to optimise your competencies.
Competencies can be defined as specific actions that are required in order to successfully complete your job in specific situations. Consider a pilot; a successful pilot has to be able to perform take off manoeuvres and landing procedures. At the same time, they must know how to interact with the airplane crew in specific situations, how to communicate with radio personnel, what to do in certain emergencies, and so on. All these specific actions are called competencies.
Today, we’ll talk about how you can optimise your competencies for certain job positions. In order to do so, the step-by-step process shown below can be implemented to really target specific areas and actions, so that you can truly measure your improvement.
- List Your Job Responsibilities
First, it is important that you understand your job responsibilities. Being able to articulate this understanding into concrete terms is key. For example, let us take the example of the pilot above again. The pilot has many responsibilities. These include:
- Applying safety procedures
- Piloting the aircraft safely
- Being able to deal with emergency situations
- Communicating with air traffic control
Taking a simpler example, we can examine the job responsibilities of a server in a restaurant. Job responsibilities for such a position might include:
- Introducing customers to their seats
- Introducing the menu
- Taking the correct orders
- Delivering the food in a timely manner
- Checking in on customers when needed
- Making sure customers feel comfortable
- Processing the check
These are all abilities that help contribute to the successful completion of a job. When listing these responsibilities, do not only consider technical skills, but any human-interaction abilities that are needed as well. For example, the server above needs to have clear communication skills with customers in order to make them feel comfortable. Building rapport will help the sever make the right recommendations. And all this leads to a pleasant customer service experience. If you are able to, turn these responsibilities into concrete actions.
- Consider your Strengths
Now that you have outlined your job responsibilities as actual actions, you should divide them to identify the ones that fall into your strong areas and the ones that fall into areas that you need to work on. Through such a division, you can distinguish the ones that you need to concentrate on first. Again, consider the above example of a server. An individual might have the following list:
|Strengths||Aspects that can be improved|
|· Introducing customers to seats
· Taking the correct orders
· Delivering Food
|· Checking in on customers when needed (perhaps it is difficult to during busy times)
· Introducing the menu (perhaps you want to be able to make better recommendations for your customers)
For the aspects that can be improved, it might not be the case that you are performing poorly on them. Rather, you can refine them. In other words, you can optimise them. Eventually through this optimisation, they will become your strengths.
Now, let us take a look at a job that may have more responsibilities and capacities involved. For instance, imagine that you are the manager of a human resources department. Your responsibilities may include project management, communicating with your employees properly, organising reports, and more. A strength and improvement list might look like this then:
|Strengths||Aspects that can be improved|
|· Project management
· Writing clear reports
|· Communicating with my employees (making sure they understand their projects in a concrete manner)
· Holding meetings in a more productive fashion (part of communicating with employees)
· Technical skills (Microsoft Office)
Sometimes, the aspects that can be improved relate to each other, as can be seen above, where the common link is communication. Seeing patterns can be helpful in improving your competencies. At other times, they might not; in such cases, you can choose the one you think will help you improve at your position the most efficiently.
- Break Down Those Areas to Improve To Target
Now that you have your areas to improve, you can further break them down and analyse them. Again returning to the example of the server, if this person would like to improve introducing the menu, perhaps he can make a list of processes that, combined together, make the introduction of the menu much more pleasant. For example, the server might introduce the appetisers first and make recommendations. Then, they might ask what sort of mood the customers are in, so that they make recommendations for a main course Would they like a lighter meal or heavier meal? Such considerations will help the server deliver a better experience.
With such a breakdown, the server can also practice each process. They might practice evaluating and making recommendations for the meal first. They can also evaluate their progress by getting feedback from the customers.
As another example, consider the pilot again. The pilot might need to work on communicating with the airplane crew. This larger competency can be broken down into smaller actions. For example, perhaps the pilot might work on confirming information with the crew. They might also need to work on asking questions when appropriate. With such a breakdown, it is easier to identify your weaknesses.
Lastly, let us consider the HR manager position that was illustrated above. Here is a breakdown of one aspect that can be improved.
|Aspect That Can Be Improved||Specific Actions|
|Holding productive meetings||· Creating an agenda
· Organizing workshops so that employees can learn hands-on
· Speaking in a clear and concise manner that is easy to understand.
As can be seen, one aspect of improvement can be broken down into multiple specific actions. The further you can break down the aspects, the easier it is for you to find ways to improve and also to measure this improvement. With the actions identified, you should move on to the next step to start improving.
Competencies involving more technical skills can also be divided into certain ways. Look at the example below:
|Aspect That Can Be Improved||Specific Actions|
|Technical Skills (e.g., Microsoft Office)||· Creating a Pitch Deck for Clients (Microsoft Powerpoint)
· Creating a Presentation for a Meeting (Microsoft Powerpoint)
· Formatting Reports For Clients Professionally (Microsoft Word)
- Find the Appropriate Training that Targets Specific Actions
Now that you have identified actions that you can work on, you have to make a plan to target and improve these. What to do here varies by industry and job position. If there are sources for professional development at your work place, you might participate in these. Even something as simple as searching the internet for videos and tips might be helpful, especially if it has to do with human communication. Also, professional training institutions, both online and offline might be helpful. There are courses for all sorts of areas, whether they are more technical ones or ones related to the soft skills.
With the above example of an HR manager, you might search on the internet on how to run effective workshops. There are many online courses and videos teaching you how to teach your employees. There are also a plethora of instructional material on how to speak in an effective manner. Having a breakdown truly helps you target specific weak areas. While free material is available, sometimes it is also effective to get one-on-one coaching or training, especially in areas where communication is important or in areas where technical skills need to be evaluated to a high degree.
For example, you can take Microsoft Office courses online for the case above involving technical skills. These courses often have modules targeting each program. When you learn the Powerpoint skills for example, you can immediately apply it to creating a better presentation for meetings. Each Microsoft Office training module in this case can help you target specific tasks and actions. At the same time, they can be applied more generally as well.
Keep in mind that training outside of your organisation does not usually consider all the contexts of your position, as they target skills in general. So when you do partake in such training, keep in mind how you are to apply these skills specifically in your settings.
- Evaluate Your Improvement, Choose New Areas to Work On
Improving your competencies should be cyclical. When you do improve on certain competencies and feel that you have done a sufficient job, move on to new ones. In the future, you might have to return to the competencies if the nature of your job changes. Moreover, you can always break down the identified actions into smaller actions. In a way, you are continuing to fine-tune certain actions that, when put together, make up the core responsibilities that you have to carry out.
Another factor to consider is the changing situation in your job. Perhaps new responsibilities are added, or you need to adjust to the changing environment. For example, new employees with different proclivities might come in to your department, changing the dynamic of the interaction. On the other hand, departments might be cut down or combined. Or, you might have to interact with different clients. Thus, it is important for you to adjust your strong areas and areas of improvement in accordance to these changes. Being sensitive to these will help you understand the competencies required as they relate to your job responsibilities and demonstrate to your company and superiors that you can adapt to any change, making you an invaluable asset in a company.
This simple checklist should help you identify what areas you need to optimise. In the case that you are not sure, it might be a good idea to have a conversation with the person who is in charge of you (a line manager, general manager, etc.). Making sure you are clear on your responsibilities and understanding expectations not only is useful for your job in general, but will help you understand the specific competencies and actions that you need to work on. Moreover, you will keep abreast of any changes that may have occurred and minimise any perceptual mismatches.