Competency mapping is a process through which one assesses and determines one’s strengths as an individual worker and in some cases, as part of an organization. It generally examines two areas: emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ), and strengths of the individual in areas like team structure, leadership, and decision-making. Large organizations frequently employ some form of competency mapping to understand how to most effectively employ the competencies of strengths of workers. They may also use competency mapping to analyze the combination of strengths in different workers to produce the most effective teams and the highest quality work.
Competency mapping can also be done for contract or freelance workers, or for those seeking employment to emphasize the specific skills which would make them valuable to a potential employer. These kinds of skills can be determined, when one is ready to do the work, by using numerous books on the subject. One of the most popular ones is Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, initially published in 2001.
Buckingham and Clifton’s book, and others like it, practice competency mapping through testing, having the person sift through past work experiences, and by analyzing learning types. However, the disadvantage to using a book alone is that most people may have a few blind spots when they analyze their own competency. Their perception of how others react to them may not be accurate.
Competency mapping also requires some thought, time, and analysis, and some people simply may not want to do the work involved to sufficiently map competencies. Thus a book like the above is often used with a human resources team, or with a job coach or talented headhunter. Competency mapping alone may not produce accurate results unless one is able to detach from the results in analyzing past successes and failures. Many studies find that people often overestimate their abilities, making self-competency mapping results dubious.
The value of competency mapping and identifying emotional strengths is that many employers now purposefully screen employees to hire people with specific competencies. They may need to hire someone who can be an effective time leader or who has demonstrated great active listening skills. Alternately, they may need someone who enjoys taking initiative or someone who is very good at taking direction. When individuals must seek new jobs, knowing one’s competencies can give one a competitive edge in the job market.
Usually, a person will find themselves with strengths in about five to six areas. Sometimes an area where strengths are not present is worth developing. In other cases, competency mapping can indicate finding work that is suited to one’s strengths, or finding a department at one’s current work where one’s strengths or needs as a worker can be exercised.
A problem with competency mapping, especially when conducted by an organization is that there may be no room for an individual to work in a field that would best make use of his or her competencies. If the company does not respond to competency mapping by reorganizing its employees, then it can be of little short-term benefit and may actually result in greater unhappiness on the part of individual employees. A person identified as needing to learn new things in order to remain happy might find himself or herself in a position where no new training is ever required. If the employer cannot provide a position for an employee that fits him or her better, competency mapping may be of little use.
However, competency mapping can ultimately serve the individual who decides to seek employment in an environment where he or she perhaps can learn new things and be more intellectually challenged. Being able to list competencies on resumes and address this area with potential employers may help secure more satisfying work. This may not resolve issues for the company that initially employed competency mapping, without making suggested changes. It may find competency mapping has produced dissatisfied workers or led to a high worker turnover rate.