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Competency Assessments & the U-TEST

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.

Visionary Leadership

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.

Judgement/Problem Solving

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 observation be?

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.

Innovation

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.

Results-Orientation

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 an organization.

Strategic Leadership

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 scale.

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.

Analysis/Problem Assessment

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.

Concentration

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.

Initiative

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.

Customer Service Orientation

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.

Communication

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?

Teamwork

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.

Compatibility with others/Tolerance

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.

Motivational Leadership (Individual Leadership/Influencing)

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.......

Delegation

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.

Adaptability

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 competence.

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