In order to perform optimally in any job, one needs to have the required competences for the job.
Many of us spend time checking and counting the number of competences that we have against the requirement. However, we spend little or no time to verify the depth or level of each of the competences that we have. Having a competence is not adequate unless we know exactly how deep we hold the competence in question.
I want to use a competence framework that I learnt from one international company some 15 years ago, to illustrate how you can optimally deepen your competences. First, we need to recognise that for each job, one needs to know which competences are needed at the deepest levels and which ones are needed at ‘shallow’ levels.
For example, in general, a marketing manager needs to have very deep communication skills while a design engineer does not require his oral communication skills to be advanced as a matter of necessity.
According to the competence framework that I have alluded to, there are five levels of competences. The first level is simply awareness—where you are simply able to talk about the issues pertaining to the competence. This is markedly different from being able to do the work or to perform. You can only have a general conversation about the competence.
The second level of competence is knowledge. This is a level of competence where you are able to do the work but only under supervision of someone who has adequate skills and experience. You have adequate knowledge to be able to do something except that you do so under the supervision of someone more superior in the competence. If you attempt to perform on your own without the supervision of the skilled person, you run the risk of making serious mistakes that may be dangerous for yourself, others, the environment and even the enterprise or organisation.
The third competence level is skill. At this level of competence, you are able to execute the job on your own without needing the assistance of anyone with more superior competence. Basically, at this level, you are an independent operator. If anything, you are the one who is so qualified that you may help others especially those who are at the level of knowledge to perform under your supervision. To reach this level of competence, it takes a good deal of familiarisation from a technical or content side as well as in terms of length of experience, depending on the type of competence.
The fourth level of competence is mastery. At this level now, you know so well that you can teach other to become good at the competence. You are so good that you can teach others to also become good at the competence. In fact, you may even begin to modify some of the ways of doing the job because you have mastered the competence to a good deal. You are the master of the competence.
The fifth and last level of competence is advanced.Those who operate at this level, have mastered the competence so much that they can actually develop an entirely new way of doing the job. They can invent the method of doing the job. I remember hosting a training workshop for electronic technicians. There was one among the 20 or so technicians that was clearly at the level of advanced. There was a complicated procedure which would ordinarily take some eight or so hours for a technician to complete.
But this advanced senior technician had come up with a short cut that would only take a maximum of half an hour. It was a very clever and smart way of doing the job. No one had taught him how to do this. He used a combination of logic, common sense and his vast experience with electronic systems. As you review your set of competences for any job, look not just at how many of the required competences you have but also do check how deep your competences are versus the requirements. you might need to further deepen some of the competences. Good luck!