Return to Articles
|Project Manager Competence and Competencies
You plan to hire a new project manager: how can you tell which candidate will perform best? You want to give some of your junior engineers project management training: how can you tell which ones are most likely to succeed at project management? You are reviewing proposals from several vendors for a project that is critical to your company's future: how can you tell if their project manager is capable?
The desire to answer these and similar questions has led a number of organizations to try to define and document project manager competencies.
But what exactly is a competency? On the surface, competent, competency, and competency standards would seem to be little different: they all come from the Latin root competere which means "to be suitable." In today's workplace, however, each word has taken on narrower, more specific meaning:
- Competent maintains most of the original meaning: a competent project manager is properly or sufficiently qualified to manage a project. But competence is also dependent on the characteristics of the project involved. For example, a project manager who is competent to manage residential home construction may not be competent to manage nuclear power plant construction.
- Competency is now widely used to refer to a specific, observable characteristic or behavior that leads to excellent performance. This leads to an interesting anomaly: a competent project manager may be missing one or more competencies! Competencies can be difficult to define because of the need to establish a causal link between the behavior and the accomplishment.
- Competency standards return us to the traditional meaning: they describe what is expected of a competent employee in the workplace. They differ from traditional job descriptions in that they emphasize results rather than activities. Competency standards normally address multiple levels of performance and also include a description of how to assess competence.
- Competency Model for Professional Project Managers
© 1998 Project Management Partners
About Us |