What are the drivers of competence management?





Globalization and technological transformations emphasize the need for developing new skills and acting at the peak of one’s capacities. Competence is defined as the combination of external and individual resources to fulfill one’s job demands and contribute to the organization’s purpose. It corresponds to feeling effective and efficient in one’s actions. As such, competence is one of the basic psychological needs, according to self-determination theory. In this paper we focus on diagnosing the drivers of competence in order to implement transformations in a specific organization to improve the use of existing resources, stimulate the development of skills and increase performance. The study was conducted in a major French company from the energy sector. We re-analyzed the corpus of an annual survey gathering the perception of about 11,000 respondents representing all job categories and all hierarchical levels. We conducted a Principal Component Analysis followed by multiple regressions in order to identify the predictors of feeling competent. The first analysis shows that the data could be summarized in 5 key indicators: 1. Involvement and trust in the unit, 2. Team management, 3. Meaningfulness at work, 4. Working conditions, 5. Organization and cooperation. We observed that the item addressing the feeling of competence showed high correlation with the third dimension related to meaningfulness, which further highlights the importance of competence for self-accomplishment. The next step was to search for the drivers of feeling competent in several job categories. The results show that production and maintenance exhibit very different profiles. The only common driver appears to be the role of the manager in developing employee’s skills. For production employees, feeling competent is mainly linked to external resources (unit organization and social identification) whereas for maintenance employees, feeling competent rather depends on individual resources (work content, professional development). Beyond the design of custom interventions based on the specific needs of each job category, this study emphasizes that there is no unique solution for managing competence and that the key to performance and fulfilment should be found in careful analysis of the organization and its members.