Specific competencies are becoming more and more the focus of
what is required by employers of prospective employees. These specific
competencies are also a benchmark for current staff and their successful
performance, as well as for their career-pathing.
The U-TEST is in fact a number of tests within an overall embracive
assessment. It measures very specific personal qualities that determine a person’s
capacity to produce results and assesses a series of job competencies.
Note: The list of competencies named here is not a conclusive
list but what we have described will indicate the very comprehensive nature of
the U-TEST competency assessment method.
If one adds a distinct creative ability to a planning and
strategic sense, one will have an organization’s direction set with innovation
as well as the scarce quality of successful implementation. An executive’s
competence in these areas is vital as the world becomes more global and the
leadership challenges multiply.
Observation precedes planning but seriously affects it. An
executive’s observational powers are assessable. Are observations clouded by
fixed or preconceived ideas? How does the person estimate what he or she
actually observes? From clear observations can flow correct planning. Vision,
innovation and creative insight will all affect such planning, so too is
strategy affected, and the resultant leadership actions will be consequently
affected, either positively or not.
The U-TEST will be able to measure these competencies in a
prospective or existing employee.
This is not the same as the assessment of problems. The
solving of problems is key to the successful operation of any organization, not
to mention the conduct of one’s life. This competency can be assessed from
different perspectives. Given a basic assessment of a person’s problem solving
capacity, one can go further and assess whether the person sees the problem
magnified, or reduced too far in importance; whether the initial observation of
the problem is a correct estimation or whether it is off the mark to any degree.
In addition, to make it really accurate, how far off the mark will that initial
The various levels of skill that we will find in a cross section of people,
need all to be assessable by any measuring mechanism. Some people will have a
‘solving’ competence as an automatic orientation (as it is with someone who
is naturally customer service oriented).
Judgement requires an ability to evaluate the relative
importances that make up the overall scene being evaluated. From a base of good
judgement, a person can add a problem solving competence which together give us
this quality and its degree of presence in an individual.
Learned competencies can be learned in a way that the person
applies the knowledge theoretically, or rotely, or with great confidence, with a
lack of confidence, without understanding or, ideally, with a great deal of
creative flair. Such innovation is possible on a gradually increasing basis. It
is usually not simply there or not there. Innovation is visible or observable on
a scale of increasing or decreasing degrees. The U-TEST can assess competency of
this quality. As our technological world keeps growing, so this quality will
become more and more valuable.
When investing in development programs, in the hiring of new staff or in
training programs, it is vital to know the competency known as ‘results
orientation’. Earlier competency descriptions mention customer service
orientation, which we saw was indeed a measurable quality. In this case we refer
to the end result of the actions of a post within an organization. The key
outputs or post outcomes are what we are referring to. The potential to produce
results can be affected by a number of other competencies, but this one alone is
assessable with a view to the person’s capacity to produce results. In some of
the employment-balancing legislation being introduced, the capacity to
perform has been named as an employment criterion. This is a valuable quality to
be able to assess, and which the U-TEST can do with accuracy. It is one of the
most critical points to measure when considering an appointment or promotion in
There may be a fine line between Strategic and Visionary
Leadership competencies but in this case the specific skill required will
encompass being able to look forward across a multi-dimensional marketplace or
global scene and to project strategies that work and are valid for the
circumstances being viewed. Not all people can do this. The degree that
executives can do this or cannot do this varies on an increasing or decreasing
Strategic Leadership will include a practical application of
vision and a sense of order. Complex application of ideas so that a result in
fact occurs, is a competence completely and accurately assessable.
Administrative skill will include these factors. Strategies can be created by
‘planning officers’ but will need leadership competence to realize such
strategies. Again, this is what the U-TEST is able to assess.
This is very different to the quality of problem solving or judgement. The
analysis competency of a person will affect job types that have this as a
requirement. A market research specialist interpreting survey data has a higher
need for analytical ability than does a cleaner of scientific equipment. Each
job type requires degrees of analytical ability. Assessing facts with a view to
solving problems is tied into the subject of logic, but nevertheless a job with
a high degree of routine and repetitive motion or action, has a lesser analysis
component than that of a market research analyst. The U-TEST can assess this
specific competency, guided by the job specification.
This specific competence is required of employees in
differing degrees, dependent upon the job specification. The concentration
competence of an air-traffic controller at peak hour at New York’s John F
Kennedy airport is different to the required concentration competence of a
newspaper salesperson in downtown Johannesburg. Words like focus, attention and
concentration have been interchanged often. Attention spans the past,
present and future, and the U-TEST can assess how much attention is available to
the individual in all three areas. This may sound quite fantastic, but it is
nevertheless true. Attention on where things were, where things are, and where
things are planned to be, are examples of the practical application of this
data. Knowing this particular competency, is valuable for the prediction of
training and development needs, and of course to the matching of people to
suitable work types and environments.
The ability to start actions in a sphere of operation is an assessable
quality. The quantitative measure is fairly straightforward, but what is equally
necessary is a qualitative measure as well. Initiation of actions can occur with
good or poor judgement, with clear or foggy observation, with no focus on the
eventual result or a clear focus. These combined factors can be assessed
individually or together. The initiation of ideas can also be a factor within
this competence, but initiation alone, without qualification, would not be
totally appropriate. The U-TEST will assess initiation as specified by the user
to ensure that such an assessment is job specific.
A willingness to help and to provide service is a measurable
competence. The U-TEST co-relates various scores measured to assess this exact
point. Each person possesses this competence in varying degrees. From an absence
of the competence on the one hand, to greater and greater degrees of increased
competence in customer service orientation, up to an ideal level. This
competency can also be assessed as to the manifestation of this competence as an
natural competence or as a forced or falsely projected competence.
A communication competence is one of the more interesting ones. This is basic
to all of a person’s activities. Our assessment can pinpoint the ability to
transfer an idea from the person to another. Essential to a good communication
ability is the so-called ‘outflow’ and ‘inflow’ legs of a communication
cycle. Can the person listen well (inflow) and can they communicate an idea so
that it is received at the other end of the line (outflow) This relates to
effective communication. This competency can be assessed from a quality point of
view as well. Is it forced, is it real and how does this compare to the person’s
own estimation of their own level of competence?
To assess this competency in an individual needs a measure of
a few qualities which combine to give one an overall teamwork competence of the
person. Interaction with others and the ability to see the viewpoints and
concerns of others, whilst being able to relate to the dynamics of a group.
Teams are groups with common purposes. The level of affinity within a group, the
degree of agreement amongst team members and the communication flow in the group
all affect the ability of a person to operate within a group. The teamwork
competency of the individual can be assessed independent of the group the person
wishes to join. Competencies in teamwork will include the elements mentioned
above and each of them can be assessed and combined to provide us with an
overall competency level for this quality.
Teamwork is described elsewhere in this write-up as a specific competency.
The compatibility of an individual will differ according to the nature of the
team or group the person is joining. The individual will have a competency level
as a potential member of the group. A high degree of compatibility, as a quality
within a person, will make the ‘fitting into a group’, an easier task. A
complete assessment of the current levels of competence of team members will
assist in the assessment of the new person, as a potential member of that group.
Despite these difficulties, the U-TEST will be able to assess the person’s
tolerance of others. The higher the tolerance the easier it will be to fit in. A
serious team of hard-working engineers constantly on a coal face somewhere, may
have differing degrees of tolerance for new members, than a group of nuns, for
example. Compatibility is best assessed with the assessment scores of existing
team members known, to assist with such a compatibility exercise.
The powers of observation, as mentioned elsewhere, influence
sound planning ability. The vision that goes with sound planning will in turn
add application to the strategies of organizations. The actual implementation of
such planning requires management and leadership skill. Leaders of groups,
however large or small, will have a greater or lesser degree of motivational
influence on the members of the group. We may have a leader in our group who
plans and executes very well, but may need the ‘enthusing of others’ as an
additional skill. This specific competence is a measurable quality in the
U-TEST. Once discovered it is a gem and enhances the realization of dreams of
the goal-makers of groups. President Mandela had a dream one day....and then so
did President Bill Clinton.......
The management manuals of the colleges of the world will no
doubt touch on this quality at some point of the curriculum. To know, before the
employment of a supervisor, manager or executive, what the person’s level of
delegation competence is, has a high degree of usefulness. An executive must be
able to operate ‘hands-on’ so to speak, when called upon to do so. But an
executive who only operates on this basis will not be an executive for very
long. Some people have difficulty with delegating, simply because the delegation
competence level of that individual is lower than what is required on that
particular post. Where a higher degree of delegation competence is required, the
person involved can increase their current level of competence and so operate
more effectively. An assessment of their current level of competence thus opens
the door to development opportunities in this area. It is also vital information
to have prior to the appointment of an individual who is to perform at a
specified level of competence, as part of the job spec.
To assess this quality one needs to acknowledge that the subject of change
and the ability to learn new ideas or ways, are closely related to the person’s
adaptability, of course. It is indeed possible to assess an individual’s
absorption of data, either heavily filtered or not, in addition to their ability
to accept change. It seems that the Dodo bird was not adaptable and the human
being was. Each of us have a different level of adaptability. As always, such
ability is apparent in differing degrees, person to person. Future management
and organizational needs will leave behind those who are seriously short of this