Skills: discover what they are and how to map them


Skills: discover what they are and how to map them

Skills mapping for a useful personal and company balance sheet

Competencies: what they are

Competencies: what are they? A good question to answer when you want to start a personal and a company assessment.

To answer this question, several elements must be considered.

The word Competencyin common usage, expresses the "level of knowledge and capacity in performing activities".

This definition, however, is rather restrictive as it does not immediately recall the 'inner drive' and motivation that is also part of competence. In fact, in the competency, five distinct elements are identified as contributing to its formation.

The 5 elements of competency

The five elements that contribute to the formation of competency are:


Each of these elements has a specific mode and value of expression and development. Moreover, these are all important factors to be taken into account both in the selection of employees and in the company's mapping survey activities.

The first 3 elements concern one's KNOWLEDGE and therefore what one learns by following one's inclinations and training in one's life experiences. The 4th and 5th elements instead refer to the own ESSENCE and IDENTITY matured with respect to the social and cultural environment that influences all human existence.         

When speaking of competency the reference is often exclusively to specific and technical knowledgeforgetting that in order to express it effectively, a certain amount of know-how (skills) and motivation are also needed.

In addition to this, not enough attention is paid to the fact that for know-howi.e. expressing one's knowledge and skills, it is necessary to both enter into relationship with other people, and to have a clear reason to do so, activating one's actions accordingly.

For an employee starting a personal competency assessment to draft their CV, keeping in mind all the 5 elements of competency can make it easier to become more aware of one's entire cultural and life background and to choose what, if anything, to invest one's energies in in order to continue to increase one's preparation.

It should be emphasised that the alignment between company and skills does not occur automatically.

It is therefore useful and necessary, both on the part of the organisation but also on the part of present and future co-workers, understand and listen to each other's peculiarities, expectations and needs.

The 5 steps for company mapping

The process steps of a company competency mapping could be broadly summarised as follows:

  1. Identifying and distinguishing in the competence 'profile' the technical aspect, specific to the position/role, from the "transversal"concerning the skills. It is called transversal because it can be identified in several job positions with similar characteristics (e.g. in all managerial roles or in all leadership roles, etc.).
  2. Include in the job competency requisite also requirements that allow the aspects of context and personal aspiration to be grasped.
  3. Define the scale and the way competences are measured, expressed with reference to dimensions of adequacy (0-5) or in qualitative descriptive terms (e.g. insufficient/sufficient/fair/good).
  4. Deliver questionnaires and interviews through questionnaires and subsequent interviews. This step is an important moment for the integration of nuances and details of behaviour at work that may be somewhat implicit. Stakeholders may include first & second level managers and possibly, depending on the extent of the mapping, a few 1st and 2nd level peer colleagues as well.
  5. Process the collected information and share data with the company contact persons for the elaboration of the measures to be initiated.

Based on any gap identified in the level of competency, the areas for improvement with the specific change management actions are defined. In addition, an individual development plan for specific employees is also put together in order to support evolution and growth.

What to consider when mapping corporate competencies

Different competencies specifically sought by a company in its employees originate from the Mission/Vision/Values of the company itself and the expectations of the organisation as a whole.

The set of behaviours and the way in which work is expressed by the employees create the corporate culture and represent the distinctive characteristics of the company.

Some distinctive elements of the corporate culture are:

  • the nature of the business;
  • the unique qualities of the product/service that differentiate it in the reference context;
  • how to respond to the external context;
  • the relations with stakeholders;
  • corporate priorities and expectations;
  • the leadership and management styles (-> behaviours);
  • the modalities for the selection of collaborators;
  • the rules, codes, policies, (policies), structures, technologies, more or less codified modes of operation;
  • the type of organisational processes (e.g. lean, agile..) on which to measure customer satisfaction.

Different differentiating features of the company, the organisation needs and competencies are all components that need alignment why create the ideal corporate set-upso that work activities can be carried out optimally.

Mapping the competencies is therefore a key business activity and also necessary in all cases where the company is faced with large changes dictated to external factors (e.g. technological development, globalisation, emerging economies, demographic trends) or internal factors (e.g. changes in product/service lines, mergers, downsizing).

Mapping the competencies of its employees means for the company re-discover its structure and ideal shape.

On the one hand, it allows you to benefit more from the skills already present in your employees and, on the other hand, to intervene when a need to add or enhance them is detected.

Skills mapping: what usefulness

Understanding the different aspects of competence and initiating a company or personal mapping process is a rather complex matter.

  • As far as the company is concerned, the mapping of competencies is a dynamic business to periodically review and realign the employees’ skills & features. In this way the possibilities of growth of the organisation together the development expectations of employees are both met, generating a double shared value.
  • As far as the employee is concerned, from time to time, doing a personal competency mapping helps to keep competencies up-to-date and provide meaning to the work to be done, renewing one's motivation.

What are your competencies? How do you express them?

To deepen and initiate together a personal skills assessment through individual counselling or a company skills mapping project

Contact me here

For an exercise to reach an awareness of personal competencies and develop additional skills