Unfortunately over the last few decades we have increasingly talked about skills competence’s and individuals as if people and their capabilities were widgets in a machine. The engineering metaphors which have dominated management thinking since the 80s failed to understand the cognitive, temporal and social aspects of apprentice models. Instead they favored a series of nonsenses: psychometric tests were held to measure innate qualities; competence mapping assumed you could explicitly design and measure abstract capabilities; eLearning and a host of other information models removed the social process of knowledge creation and development.
I’ve always had a visceral reaction to that word competencies. Years ago I was chatting to a prospective client whose opening line was, “So what’s your core competence?”. It was the first time I’d come across that phrase and it was like a doctor doing a prostate check without asking: confusing, and definitely not pleasant, even if there may have been some positive intention buried in there somewhere.
Even typing this now, my head spins at the whole notion. I am not a competence, I am a free man.
I have come across competence frameworks and I see that many people swear by them. I feel like there’s a page of the script that I’ve not been given. Viv‘s writing a little manual about facilitation at the moment and I’m trying to help and not get in her way too much. We wrote a list of the qualities of a good facilitator. I looked at it and thought, wow, that’s a bit intimidating. It feels like a counsel of perfection. In reality, I don’t start my day resolving to be more present, empathetic etc etc. But when I’m on form I think a lot of those qualities emerge.
I think they emerge more over time with practice, because with repetition, self-awareness, half-decent feedback and reflection, facilitation gradually teaches you how to facilitate. I don’t think the competencies are the key.