Core Competencies

Competency:  The combination of observable and measurable knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes that contribute to enhanced employee performance and ultimately result in organizational success. To understand competencies, it is important to define the various components of competencies.

  • Knowledge is the cognizance of facts, truths and principles gained from formal training and/or experience. Application and sharing of one's knowledge base is critical to individual and organizational success.
  • A skill is a developed proficiency or dexterity in mental operations or physical processes that is often acquired through specialized training; the execution of these skills results in successful performance.
  • Ability is the power or aptitude to perform physical or mental activities that are often affiliated with a particular profession or trade such as computer programming, plumbing, calculus, and so forth. Although organizations may be adept at measuring results, skills and knowledge regarding one's performance, they are often remiss in recognizing employees' abilities or aptitudes, especially those outside of the traditional job design.
  • Individual attributes are properties, qualities or characteristics of individuals that reflect one's unique personal makeup. Individual attributes are viewed as genetically developed or acquired from one's accumulated life experiences. Although personal characteristics are the most subjective of the components, a growing, significant body of research links specific personality traits to successful individual and organizational performance.
  • Individually recognizing and rewarding any of these sources of expertise provides a strong basis for individual performance engagement. However, it is their combination that results in the unleashing of resources that are all too frequently untapped.

When utilizing competencies, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Competencies do not establish baseline performance levels; rather they are used to raise the bar on employee performance. They provide employees with road maps to increase their capabilities incrementally.
  • Competencies focus on an organization's culture and values. Consequently NU has selected a unique set or combination of competencies that support and facilitate its mission.
  • Competencies reflect the organization's strategy; that is, they are aligned to short- and long-term missions and goals.
  • Competencies focus on how results are achieved rather than merely the end result. In this manner they bridge the gap between performance management and employee development and are an integral component of personal development plans.
  • Competencies close skill gaps within the organization.
  • Competency data can be used for employee development, compensation, promotion, training and new hire selection decisions.