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What’s The Difference Between Organizational Core Competencies And Job Family Competencies?

Organizational core competencies are those behaviors or attributes that the company expects to see demonstrated by everyone who is employed, regardless of that person’s job or level. Sometimes called cultural competencies, these are the small number of skills, talents, and abilities that senior management has decided are truly core to the successful operation of the business.

Job family competencies are those that apply more specifically to some types of jobs but not necessarily to others. For example, ‘‘people management’’ is a competency that might be used to assess the performance of people whose job primarily involves supervising and directing the work of others. It’s easy to see from the description that only people with supervisory responsibility can be held accountable for this area:

People Management. Regularly reviews performance and holds timely performance appraisal discussions. Hires the best people available. Doesn’t hesitate to select strong subordinates. Has a nose for talent. Is watchful for subordinates and coworkers who appear to be having personal problems or concerns and encourages them to seek help. Knows people’s career goals and helps them achieve them. Actively seeks development opportunities for employees. Holds people accountable and takes corrective action when necessary. Encourages and rewards effort, hard work, and results. Actively works to promote high performers and remove noncontributors.

Similarly, ‘‘safety’’ is a competency that will probably be included only in the performance appraisal of people in the operations job family:

Safety. Performs work in a safe manner at all times. Assesses the work site for hazards. Maintains an organized work area. Identifies and corrects unsafe situations. Plans a job with safety concerns in mind. Seeks guidance from supervisor and safety coordinator if needed. Attends and actively participates in safety training events. Considers the safety of other employees on the job site. Maintains personal protection equipment. Understands safety regulations and why they are important. Reports unsafe conditions. Communicates organization’s safety policy to contractors and other nonemployees. Responds effectively to safety and health emergencies.

Does this mean that the organization is only concerned that operations people work safely and that everyone else can flaunt safety standards? Of course not. What it does mean is that safety is a core requirement in most operations jobs, while in other positions it is not an area of primary concern.

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There are some competencies that may appear in the performance appraisals of several job families. ‘‘Judgment and problem solving’’ is a good example:

Judgment and Problem Solving. Quickly grasps both the obvious and the underlying aspects of situations and problems. Looks beyond the obvious and doesn’t stop at the first answer. Seeks advice from people who have successfully solved similar problems. Thinks through possible benefits, potential problems, and unintended consequences that might arise from variations from standard procedures. Helps others use reasoning and evidence rather than unsupported opinion. Others run their plans by him/her for reaction.

Obviously, the kinds of judgments that a systems analyst is required to make differ from those confronting a lathe operator. The decisions that the vice president of strategic planning has to make significantly differ from those her secretary has to make. But judgment is required in all of these jobs, and problem solving is a critical success factor in many job families.