Capabilities versus Competencies

I just read a needs analysis document from a company I really wish I could share and brag a little about, but due to confidentiality agreements they will need to remain a secret.  However, I will share with you how they were framing the discussion about Capabilities versus Competencies.

They began by clarifying for the reader that a Competency is a cluster of related knowledge, skills and attitudes that among other things affect a major part of one’s job.  A Capability however is a blend of aptitude and personality traits.  Capabilities are innate and difficult to change and should be left to the selection and hiring process, while Competencies  can be improved by training and therefore can be learned.

I am a huge fan of training when it applies and looking for other solutions when training does not belong.  So when I read this introduction, I realized that they were setting the stage to say some of what we will do is done before the person joins the company and some of what we will do will happen in training the skills they need to perform the work.

It was a great reminder to those of us who are pressured to train everything and that training cannot fix everything.  While I disagree that some personality traits can be altered with training, it comes down to the individual wanting to change the way they work.  Time Management skills come to mind, and sometimes people come out of training a changed person, and others exactly the same way they entered.

So the next time someone wants training, use the Competencies versus Capabilities test before you say yes.

Incompetence Closed Training Department

I struggle all the time with the word “incompetent” as a way to describe someone who lacks the necessary skills to perform their job successfully.  Maybe it is the HR person in me that wants a softer and gentler way of breaking the news. 

Yet this week I contacted another training manager that is out of a job, and in fact their department of 4 people are out of a job because the training manager lacked the skills to manage training effectively.  In essence they were incompetent to lead this function correctly in order to prevent being closed to save expenses.

I gave an interview last week that asked for the 100th time why I wrote my book The Training Physical.  I said for the 100th time that I wanted to help training managers improve their return on the investment the company was making by focusing them on what it takes to be a healthy and productive department.

Yet, for too many training managers, the thought of being unhealthy or incompetent does not even enter their mind until the day they are terminated and told the function is being closed down to save money.  And even then, many refuse to credit their own participation in this action.

If you haven’t yet read the book, I would like to encourage you to read it and self evaluate your operation.  For a real training audit, I would encourage you to email me or call sooner than later.

Who Would Miss Training?

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if you had not been born, and followed the path you have taken thus far?  I sometimes wonder if I make a difference, and I can tell you honestly that the past 3 months I’ve had very little evidence to support my worth.

The holidays are always a slow time, and I use that time to reflect on the year’s activities and results.  I set a vision or course correction for my vision for the next year and plan activities that I feel will bring about my goals.

Yet at the same time, it has occurred to me lately who would miss my efforts.  Since this blog is not about me, I want to turn this experience around and ask you to think about who would miss training in your organization if it went away.  Make a list of who and why.

If after you are done with this activity, you review the list and can’t even impress yourself, how can you expect to impress the company?  Yes you serve a purpose, and what I consider a very important function, if not indispensible, pretty darn close!

Yet, I could name at least 20 companies that I have spoken to this past year that because of their short list of contributions, would not be missed.  They serve very little value, and in fact cost more than they return.  So no one would miss them!

I’ve said before that I keep a list of these companies, and many are gone within the next year.  They were missed for a while, but eventually the company learned to do without their services.  This is sad, because every company needs training.  Every company should miss a training department.  If training is doing their job well, there should never be a doubt if they would be missed.

Although I’ve been feeling useless lately because I’m preaching to a deaf congregation most of the time, I fight on.  Because at the heart of the work I do, it is all about the individual employee learning the right skills at the right time so that they can achieve excellence.  If I give up, than there is one less player on the team to make that goal happen.

Professional Development for the Training Team

Welcome to a brand new year in training your employees!  Do you have the necessary skills to facilitate, design and recommend the needed solutions?  Can you afford for your training team to pass on their development this year?

Trainers, (the word I use to describe everyone that supports the training function) are often so focused on developing everyone elses skills that they fail to both budget for and develop their own skills.

  • Looking at 2011, if you are not already versed in the world of social learning platforms, you need to get educated quickly. 
  • If you have not already acquired the new skills necessary for virtual deliveries it is not too late. 
  • If you are a training manager without a training plan because you have no idea how to create one, you need to seek emergency care soon!
  • If the training department personnel that report to you have not had a skill assessment to even determine what professional development is needed, then consider a training audit.

Actually, if you email me at I will be glad to steer you to some of the best programs that will fit your development plans and budgets, and I will do it for free!

Let’s begin 2011 by training trainers, before training others!