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The Strategic Competency Management--Indian Perspective.

The Strategic Competency Management--Indian Perspective By Avinash V. Deolekar, Labour Law Agency, Mumbai, 2008, pp. xiii+201, Rs. 250.

This book is a reflection of the author's experiences in the field of Competency Management and its execution in the form of competency mapping, assessment and development. He has drawn heavily from his dissertation submitted to Mumbai University for his doctoral degree. The author believes that success of Competency Management is assured if line management's initiative is integrated with HR initiative. He has described competency as an underlying characteristic of a company or an individual which enables them to deliver superior performance in a given role, situation or a job.

How do competencies differ from skills and knowledge? The author has brought out the differences in a fascinating style through following expressions:

* Competencies do not include knowledge but do include applied knowledge or behaviour applications of knowledge; competencies do include skills but only manifestation skills.

* An individual, rich in skills and knowledge, may excel only if he exhibits the right attitude towards his work, sense of belonging, team spirit etc.

The author has recapitulated what is contained in the earlier publications on the subject. His contribution is, however, more note-worthy and innovative in Competency Management. The most important suggestion made by the author is to develop a competency dictionary specific to the organization concerned. If an organization wishes to systematically develop job descriptions based on competencies, improve selection systems by assessing skill level in the required competency, and/or train to needed competencies, then it is in its best interests to first establish a comprehensive list of competencies that will be used in the organization. This is valuable because using a common set of competencies will eliminate the confusion which will result if different jobs use different terms to describe the same or similar behaviours. For example, most managerial jobs will include some form of decision making as an essential component of the job. It makes no sense to label or define that competency differently in two separate job descriptions. By using one set of competencies throughout the organization, personnel specialists can evaluate components of the HR system and make strategic decisions. Likewise, developers of training can identify competencies that are shared by several different jobs and develop generic training programmes that will be applicable to a number of positions. Competency Management has, thus, emerged as the single most powerful tool that can integrate all HR processes to a single card. Competency Management at one end has a direct relationship with the person, the position that he operates and performance that he delivers. These three linkages can also be used to determine the compensation package of an individual in the organization.

The author has taken pains to list the conclusions that have emerged from a series of seminars organized by the Harbridge House (Consulting Group).

Important among them are:

* Many people felt that the management competencies were becoming a mine-field.

* Opinions were split around generic versus organization specific approaches. Both have a place in the context of flatter organizations and business-linked management development.

* There was a need to distinguish job-based competencies from those termed as strategic or organization wide.

The author has taken note of today's business environment which is a mixture of globalization, competition and survival of the fittest. The job of a manager is now far more challenging. A successful manager is now required to be outward looking, customer oriented, quality conscious, alert, positive and innovative. Managers who continue to be mere administrators cannot survive. Value addition and dynamism are "in" and middlemen are "out". The author has re-capitulated 10 qualities of global managers for the competitive environment as mentioned by Jack-Welch of General Electric. These are multi-skilling, proactive, master-in-charge, global vision to fight global competition, becoming tomorrows' manager today, winning strategies, the complete manager, global mindset, managing complexity and global local balance.

The author attended a round table conference of prominent and successful CEOs where one of the CEOs revealed the secret of his handling a large business house successfully as:

"I do not do anything. I really do not do anything. My managers manage business so effectively and successfully that I only manage and take care of them".

The book carries an exclusive chapter on competency modeling and places competency models into two categories: 'single job competency model' and 'one size fits all model'. Both the models have limited value in selection and training for specific jobs and in matching individuals with specific jobs. To overcome this limitation, the organizations are now embracing a three-tier competency based framework consisting of core, functional (or group) and job specific (or task) competencies. Details of developing a model suitable to a particular organization have also been outlined. Case study of a Mumbai based survey which was conducted to find out different levels of perceptions of organizations regarding managerial competencies also figures in the book. This would be of great value to the practitioners on the subject.

Is it essential for all organizations, irrespective of size, to set up an Assessment Centre? To answer this question, the author has relied on the view that "it is vital to have the necessary expertise either in-house or available via appropriate qualified external providers to ensure appropriate design and effective delivery. Just like anything else, the rubbish in/rubbish out principle applies. If the process is delivered by un-trained/ un-skilled assessors, it will tell the organization nothing of value and will be a waste of money". Of late, the term 'Assessment Centre' is being replaced by 'Development Centre'. While the content part remains more or less the same, the latter one is considered friendlier and less threatening.

The author has visited 200 organizations, both Indian and multinational.

He met with 200 managers at different levels. He has found a shift in managerial competencies and has enumerated the important conclusions drawn from the aforesaid survey which should be of great value to the managements, researchers and practitioners.

In the chapter 'Competency Driven Business Strategy', the author has quoted the work of C.K. Prahalad and G. Hamel where they said "In the 1990s, managers will be judged on their ability to identify, cultivate and exploit the core competencies that make growth possible--indeed they have to rethink the concept of the corporation itself". Considering that the book has been published 18 years thereafter, the author should have taken care to find out and record whether the anticipations made by Prahlad and Hamel have fructified? If not, why not? Hopefully, this will be taken care of in the next edition.

The book carries many editorial errors which distract the concentration of the reader. The book has added value to the literature on the subject. It has pieced together the contributions of prominent writers and has given a practical orientation to the subject based on author's own experiences.

K.L. Rawal

Senior Consultant

Shri Ram Centre for IR & HR, New Delhi
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Author:Rawal, K.L.
Publication:Indian Journal of Industrial Relations
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:1153
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