Workforce Management:
Do Core Competencies Really Boost Performance?

By: Dominique Giguere and Jed DeCory, Currents Group Inc.,

Q: We hear the phrase “core competencies” thrown around quite a bit, but how should we define it? In other words, how do we understand our core competencies within the context of boosting our organization’s performance?

– Bugged by Buzzwords, human resources recruiter, health care, Scotts Valley, California

A: Your core competencies are those competencies that provide your company with access to markets, a unique benefit to customers, and aren’t easily imitated. Once you define them, use your core competencies to continuously align your activities and your talent. Over time, this type of clarity and purposeful streamlining should prove to be a strong differentiation between you and your competition.

Core competencies are a unifying force for organizations, helping to boost overall performance. Several methods exist to help you identify your core competencies, similar to strategic planning exercises. You should:

  1. Inventory your existing competencies.
  2. Survey your operating environment.
  3. Determine where the organization wants to go through ”visioning” exercises.
  4. Create a strategic plan to support existing competencies and develop those you lack.

This process sheds light on noncore areas and enables you to better redirect resources or possibly to outsource certain activities – practices that are linked to better business performance.

The term ”core competencies” can be interpreted in many ways. Organizational core competencies exist at the organizational level. However, there are also individual core competencies, reflecting the strengths of the people working for your organization. Ideally, individual competencies will be in line with your organization’s core competencies, much in the same manner as individual business units align to the larger organization’s values, vision and strategies.

Organizational competencies contribute to your talent management strategy. They help you identify the critical and primary capabilities of each unit – the individual core competencies – which in turn guide your plans for recruiting and developing talent.

Therefore, it is well worth your time to identify and define the competencies your organization considers to be core to its business. And it is especially important to repeatedly and consistently communicate to employees the vital role they play as your organization strives for success, especially in a challenging and ever-changing business climate.

About the Author:

Dominique Giguere and Jed DeCory, Currents Group Inc., Toronto

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