Current Issue
Material Handling Wholesaler Cover
December 2017
Enjoy the December cover story as Dave Baiocchi helps you transition from supplier to strategic partner

Industry News

View Material Handling Wholesaler's profile on LinkedIn

Competencies vs. personality traits

For those who follow sports, you have likely seen, or read about, the accomplishments of Billy Bean in turning a low-budget franchise into a highly competitive team. He did this by focusing on each player’s various accomplishments, instead of just the statistics related to the player.

For example, rather than simply looking at a player’s batting average – which, in this case, could be categorized as a trait – he also looked at his percentage of time on base, which we would call an accomplishment. What is missing here, however, is the answer to one question: What is the competency that permits a player to achieve the accomplishment of time on base?

For over 53 years, Caliper has developed and improved on our ability to measure the core personality traits of applicants and existing personnel to help determine the likelihood of their success in the role for which they are being considered or currently hold.

But we advise our clients to go one step further with us. Going back to the example of Billy Bean, instead of just considering the traits each player possessed, he looked at the competencies that lead to their ability to frequently get on base.

By identifying the competencies that lead to a particular behavior, we are able to better understand the individual. To relate the concept to the business world, if a person is skilled when it comes to social interaction, this could be a strength in a sales position as well as in management or service role. In other words, looking at competencies gives us deeper insight into who the individual is and how he or she can be developed to enhance his or her contributions to a company.

If you decide to create a Competency Model, you are able to look at a position, accurately identify the key outcomes, and define what knowledge, skills, behaviors, and abilities people need to be successful in a particular role with your company. By integrating job performance with the company’s mission, goals, strategy, and corporate culture, the Competency Model serves as the basis for a fully integrated talent management process that supports best-in-class human resources and organizational development practices.

So, when you are considering an applicant for a new role or implementing a development program for a current employee, be sure you are looking at his or her overall competencies as well as the traits that he or she demonstrates. Doing so will enable you to truly understand how to maximize that all-important aspect of your business – your people.

Want to implement a Competency Model? Start with a job analysis.

Whether you have a brand-new position you need to fill or you want to update an old job description to reflect industry and cultural changes, a thorough, accurate understanding of what success in that role looks like is a necessity. The first step in figuring out what factors lead to success in your position is a Job Analysis.

The purpose of a Job Analysis is to identify the requirements of a job in order to better determine the tasks, functions, competencies, performance expectations and outcomes that are critical for success in that particular role. A Job Analysis is a rigorous and systematic process that is typically conducted as part of a larger engagement or study designed to enhance organizational performance.

So, what should you expect when a Job Analysis is conducted at your organization? With Caliper’s help, stakeholders at your company would select participants for three focus groups: top performers in a given role, supervisors of a given role and senior leaders and/or other stakeholders who can provide a longer-term, strategic perspective on the role in question.

In the focus groups, participants are asked to provide open and honest feedback. Caliper then compiles that information and moves forward to the next step in the engagement.

The Job Analysis is a critical link in confirming that the criteria you use to select candidates or evaluate performance are actually relevant to the role. The information obtained from a Job Analysis can be leveraged for a wide range of initiatives, such as the creation of Competency Models, to guide further data analysis or to help address a variety of organizational issues.

A Competency Model is a descriptive tool that identifies key outcomes and defines what knowledge, skills, behaviors, and abilities individuals need to be successful in a particular role with your organization. Your custom Competency Model would serve as the basis for a fully integrated talent-management process that supports best-in-class human resources and organizational development practices such as:

  • Targeted hiring and promotions
  • Onboarding and orientation
  • Individual development
  • Curricula and training design
  • Performance management
  • Hi-Po identification and development
  • Succession planning

This type of analysis and model development will help you create the framework for a fully integrated talent-management approach that is designed to align individual employee performance to the mission, goals, and strategy of the company.

About Caliper - For nearly half a century, Caliper has been helping companies achieve peak performance by advising them on hiring the right people, managing individuals most effectively and developing productive teams. The accuracy, objectivity and depth of our consulting approach enable us to provide solutions that work for over 25,000 companies. To find out more about how Caliper can help you identify and develop people who can lead your organization to peak performance, please visit us at  or call us at 609-524-1200. Email to contact Caliper.