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The Application of the Competency Based Methodology


- An Open Systems Approach -


Why an Open Systems Approach?

The organisation as a whole can be seen as an open system. Which means that the organisation is not an entity standing in isolation from the rest of the world or the environment within which it exist. Any changes in the environment as well as changes within the organisation have an effect on the organisation as a whole. The Human Resources Functions reside within the organisation; therefore it can be seen as an open system that resides within an open system. (Take note that the Human Resources Department as such is not implied here but rather the various Human Resources Functions right through the total company) Any changes outside as well as inside the organisation has an effect on the way Human Resources functions are performed. Any changes in the environment, client needs, laws controlling Human Resources actions, change in products, policies and procedures, management decisions, etc. has a direct impact on the way Human Resources functions are performed. The Human Resources functions itself has an impact on each other if any changes in one of the functions takes place. (I.e. changes in the way of recruitment is done and the competence of people recruited, has a direct impact on the way that training will be done as well as the way selection and placement is done. Changes in the performance management tools and methods used could have a direct impact on the remuneration of employees, etc.)

Therefore it is very important to approach each function of Human Resources in a holistic way as an open system. The application of the Competency Based Methodology (CBM) must therefore also be based on the open systems approach and implemented in a holistic way. This means that when the methodology is applied, all Human Resources Functions must be adapted and implemented simultaneously. The different functions must not be treated as isolated entities.

There are eight (8) Human Resources functions that can be identified and they are as follows (in no order of importance):

  1. Recruitment and Selection
  2. Career Planning
  3. Performance Appraisal
  4. Delegating and Assigning work
  5. Skills Inventory
  6. Training and Development
  7. Coaching and Counselling
  8. Wage and Salary


The following diagram will illustrate how these Human Resources functions are interrelated and form part of an open systems model:


In the past there was no formal basis for handling all the Human Resources functions. For each function a different profile was used, which meant that recruitment and selection was done using a profile, the job itself was based on a different profile and training and development was done on another profile for the same job. There is a total misalignment between the various Human Resources functions. This causes major problems for management as well as the employees and newly recruited employees. Candidates are recruited for a specific job, but reality strikes when they take up their positions by discovering that the actual job content is way different from what was initially offered to them. Training needs is identified using job profiles created by line management but training and development programs don’t address these needs as they are based on totally different profiles created by the Human Resources department, etc. etc.

As can be seen in the model above, the Job Profile forms the core or basis of the Competency Based Methodology. All the Human Resources functions are based on this centrally created profile. Therefore it is very important that when implementing the methodology within a company, the most time and effort must be placed on compiling these profiles. The profile will contain all the required generic information for each of the functions. Changes in the Job Profile will have a direct impact on all the functions. Changes in any of the functions will have an Impact on the Job Profile and also on the other functions via the Job Profile.

Changes in the internal and external environments will have a direct impact on one or more of the functions and the Job Profile. (I.e. Changes in the strategic direction of an organisation or its products and services will have an impact on the skills required to support these strategies, products and services and this effects the job profile.) Therefore it can be seen as an open system functioning within an open system, the company. Therefore when applying the CBM, it must be approached on a holistic way and all the functions must be adapted to the methodology simultaneously.