No matter how comprehensive or thorough your training programs are, no employee will remember all of the details after just one run through. And when it comes to training newly hired employees, it’s important to offer feedback and guidance based on their performance.

This is why competency based training is an important, supplemental part of training— to help fill in any gaps that were overlooked the first time around, and ensure employees have mastered the necessary skills to carry out their roles successfully.

What is competency based training?

Competency based training is a learning approach that focuses on evaluating if employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their job effectively. It emphasizes the development of practical skills and abilities over just providing theoretical knowledge. 

A significant part of competency based training involves assessing an employee’s ability to complete a specific task, or accomplish an objective. The focus is on identifying gaps in their skillset and providing training that addresses these specific gaps. 

Competency based training differs from comprehensive training courses that cover a topic or process from beginning to end. While comprehensive training is important, particularly when onboarding a new hire or teaching a new skill from scratch, it’s understood that the employee won’t remember every detail of the course or training session their first time through it.

Focusing on this type of training lends itself to building an overall competency model within your business.

Competency based training examples

1. Executing the steps of a task correctly

Competency based training is particularly useful when you need to ensure that an employee is properly carrying out a step by step task. By comparing an employee’s performance to the established steps of a task you can quickly identify areas that need improvement.

In manufacturing and construction, it is essential that employees know how to operate machines and tools safely and efficiently, and competency based training ensures that employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform these tasks without risk or poor performance.

Similarly, competency based training is common in the food and beverage industry where employees need to prepare dishes and drinks correctly to maintain quality and ensure customer satisfaction. Ensuring that the same steps are carried out consistently and correctly not only sets a standard of quality, it also minimizes the risk of physical harm to employees, and of cross contamination for customers

In healthcare, proper disinfection and sterilization after patient visits are crucial for preventing the spread of infections and maintaining a clean and safe environment. By delivering competency based training you can ensure that employees understand the proper disinfection procedures and are able to perform them correctly.

2. Demonstrating effective communication skills

Having effective communications skills is a huge boost no matter what industry or position and employee is in. But in people-facing roles, it’s fundamental.

For team members working in sales, a powerful pitch is everything. Having a guideline or script for them to start from is the first step in a competency based training approach. When evaluating the employee, test if they can read the room, answer questions, and handle objections smoothly. 

If you have team members working in customer service, answering questions and handling complaints with tact and efficiency is critical to the business’s success. Again, a competency based training approach is valuable here, because it’s likely that a lot of customers have similar questions. By creating a guide with the correct answers and steps to resolving frequently occurring issues, you demonstrate for your teams how to carry out each task, and establish a standard to evaluate them against.

3.  Managing a project from start to finish

Don’t forget that training isn’t just for entry-level employees. Your managers and supervisors can also benefit from a competency based training program.

One way to evaluate their management skills is to see how they manage a project from start to finish. You can first run a project together, going through the steps of identifying objectives, setting goals, creating and delegating tasks, overseeing the execution, and then conducting post-evaluation. Document this process so you can then compare their performance when it’s time for them to run a project on their own.

4. Reporting on a specific task or topic

Reporting can be a difficult task to complete for any employee, even if they are incredible at their job. You can help increase their competency in this area by establishing what you expect each type of report to cover, and providing previous examples of what they should look like. This gives you a basis to then provide feedback and evaluate the quality of future reports produced.

What are the steps in creating competency based training?

Step 1: Identify the competencies required for each job role in detail. This can be done by doing the task yourself or using the desired outcome as a guideline.

Step 2: Develop competency standards and assessment criteria. Determine how the standard is set, and how you will communicate this to the employee. Be sure to consider how you’ll assist them if they fall short of expectations.

Step 3: Evaluate the performance of employees against the established competency standards. Have the employee perform the specific task themselves while you observe. Take notes on where they need improvement, as well as where they excel.

Step 4: Provide training and development opportunities to employees to fill any competency gaps. Ensure it is motivating and that you provide clear solutions and approaches. It’s important that they understand any shortcomings in a positive light. 

Step 5: Continuously monitor and assess the performance of employees to ensure ongoing development. You can implement reinforcement training courses on a recurring basis to keep employees on track. 

Don’t be afraid to have your employees collaborate on tasks that allow for it. If you find one employee falls short continuously on one task, but excels in another that someone else might not grasp, split the load between these employees so that they can learn from each other and boost each other’s performance.

What is the importance of competency based training?

Competency based training is essential for organizations, especially in deskless industries, to ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge required to perform their job roles effectively. Competency gaps can lead to inefficiencies, mistakes, and accidents that can affect the performance and reputation of the organization.

If an employee feels like they consistently fail or underperform at a task, their motivation will drop, as well as their productivity. Identifying these gaps early on and offering support in the form of competency-based training will keep the employee, and the company, ahead of the curve.

By identifying competency gaps in advance, you can address these gaps proactively and provide employees with the necessary training and development opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge. This can result in increased productivity, improved quality of work, reduced errors, and improved customer satisfaction.

Deliver competency based training to your team, right to their smartphones.

Deliver competency based training to employees directly from their smartphones.


What are the 4 types of basic competencies?

The four types of basic competencies are: 

  • cognitive (thinking and problem solving)
  • functional (technical or job-specific)
  • interpersonal (communication and collaboration)
  • behavioral (attitudes and work habits)
What are the key components of competency based training?

The key components of competency based training are:

  • identifying the competencies required for each job role
  • developing competency standards and assessment criteria
  • evaluating employee performance
  • providing training and development opportunities
  • continuously monitoring and assessing employee performance
What are the advantages of competency based training?

The advantages of competency-based training include improved productivity, improved quality of work, reduced errors, improved customer satisfaction, and increased employee satisfaction and engagement. This type of training helps you identify the exact areas where employees need improvement, and where they excel.

What are the limitations of competency based training?

The limitations of competency-based training include the potential for bias in the assessment process, the possibility of focusing too much on technical skills, and the need for ongoing evaluation and development.

Why a competency based training strategy is critical for success

Competency based training is a critical element of a successful organizational strategy to train, evaluate, and improve employee happiness and performance. By implementing a competency based training program, businesses can ensure that their employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their job roles effectively. This can lead to improved productivity, reduced errors, and improved customer satisfaction, among other benefits.

Key takeaways

  • Competency based training is a training approach that identifies a person’s strengths and shortcomings, and focuses on bridging the gaps in their competency to complete a task.
  • You eliminate the need to provide tedious training on topics employees have already mastered, and instead focus on the specific areas where they need improvement. This helps motivate employees to improve their skills, without overwhelming them with information and training they already know. 
  • In any competency based training example, you identify where your employee falls short of completing a task up to your standards, and then provide them with in-depth training and refresher courses as needed to ensure improved productivity and overall job satisfaction.
  • Competency based training will require the assessor not to be biased and set unrealistic expectations. Keep an open mind when assessing employees and always ensure that feedback is constructive.