The Difference and the Disconnect: Competency vs Capacity vs Capability

Competency vs Capacity vs Capability

Competency is a collection of aptitudes that an individual must necessarily possess as a requirement for a particular work. As printed in Job Descriptions (JDs), it specifies what an individual should do (produce) and say (communicate) based on what he is supposed to know in relation to his job.

It is a SET of knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors (KSAB) attached to an individual as a precondition in the hiring of the said individual to a job position. It is presumed that with the possession of such identified competencies, the effective performance of his job is assumed and forthcoming.

Among others, an individual is hired as an accountant because he possesses the set KSAB expected from a licensed accountant. A person is handed the job of a chemist because he has the set KSAB of a licensed chemist, and not of a lawyer.

An individual hired as a teacher is supposed to havethe set of KSAB attached to the profession. At the very least and aside from the knowledge of the subject taught, the teacher must have the competencies related to Classroom Management, Methods of Instruction, Test and Measurements, etc. In the same manner, the individual appointed as an academic administrator (dean or chair or coordinator) is supposed to have the set KSAB attached to the position…the minimum of which is management.

Being competent would mean two things: (1) that the individual has the essential job inputs, either received or gained through formal and informal education or through experience, and (2) that the individual must be able to translate the inputs to the expected outputs.

One’s level of competencies is supposed to be an assurance of his level of performance. A famous writer clarifies that: “Competencies are individual and measurable skills acquired to do a job to an agreed standard of performance within a given range of contexts.” The ‘agreed standard of performance’ is mandated by the industry and the standards set by the institution.

Often ‘Capability development’ and ‘Capacity development’ are interchangeably used even by the subscience, Human Resource Management, to which they are core categories in performance evaluation. While both point to the improvement of the performance of the particular human resource (teacher, pilot, secretary, dean, preacher, etc.) in the level of fit, quality, relevance, excellence, etc. of expected output, there is a mile of difference between the two of them.

On the one hand, Capacity is the maximum measurement or AMOUNT of knowledge, skills, and abilities (and behaviors) that an individual or group must possess to enable it to perform effectively as expected.

Notwithstanding the quality standard of the academic institution where they graduated, the ‘amount’ of knowledge of a teacher in Philosophy who has a PhD must be greater than that of a teacher in the same science but possesses a Master’s Degree only. Likewise, the amount of skills that a teacher who has taught for 20 years is supposed to be higher than the amount of skills of a neophyte teacher. Extending it further, the amountof patience or trust or hope or exemplary behaviour that a teacher –priest or administrator-priest must be greater than that of an ordinary teacher or administrator who did not undergo 10 years or more of spiritual formation.

Capability, on the other hand, follows after competency. Take note that competency is the SET of KSAB. Strictly speaking, one cannot proceed to buildingcapability without having had competencies. Capability is the CONFIDENT APPLICATION of one’s competencies.

Being capable would mean two things: (1) that the emphasis is on confidence in oneself, and that this confidence founded on the possession of precise, current (and even, advance) competencies and (2) that the application of the competencies is done with surety and certainty.

The confidence of the individual must be based on his acquired advance KSAB attached to the particular position and profession.

 The Disconnect

It is possible that many individuals were appointed as school administrators because they possessed the academic qualifications (ex. MA in Economics, MS in Electrical Engineering, Ph. D. in Political Science, etc.). Some held vital industry experiences. In addition, they may have constantly secured the highest performance evaluation rating in the subject they regularly taught. On top of this, while unquestionably possessing the magnanimous desire to serve, they have the trust of the appointing officials.

As such, is it necessary for said school officials to possess management competencies and capabilities?Should such school officials be equipped with the management tools necessary to scientifically analyse their school’s situation? Should they be prepared to methodically evaluate their competition and formulate interventions using acceptable management models?

With inadequate knowledge in the science of managing structures, systems, policies, resources, processes and plans, the danger of consciously or unconsciously adopting a hit-and-miss way of managing the academic unit is a great possibility. Thus, they do need to be equipped?

In the event that they commit unintended major errors in exercising their administrative responsibilities, it will be the next leadership or set of school officials who will inherit their mischances. Because opportunities would have been missed! Time would have been “wasted!”

Although, possessing a genuine desire to add value to the work they have been appointed to, it is presumed that they also would not want to leave behind a legacy open for bashing. The absence of a solid background in scientific management makes them vulnerable for such.

Indeed, one’s performance as a school administrator requires competencies, capabilities and capacities beyond classroom management, methods of instruction, test and measurement, research and publication as well as expertise in the specific field of educational profession (Chemist-teacher, Philosophy-professor, Fine Arts instructor, Accounting-lecturer, etc.).

When hundreds or even thousands of people (students, teachers, parents, support staff, alumni, officials of partner institutions, suppliers, etc.) rely on one’s management acumen and decisions, ‘to be morally good’ must always be complimented by ‘to be administratively right.’ In the complex world of managing academic institutions, where standards, recognitions, ranking, ratings, quality, andefficiency are the current driving forces for survival, it isnot enough that the school official has a good heart. He must also have the technical proficiency in managing. In fact, he must have the clearest strategic foresight through the practical science of management.

Albeit proficiency in management is not a guaranteed ticket for success, it is undeniably advantageous to possess such. To be able to scientifically analyze the situations (both internal and external), to be able to project possible scenarios based on unruffled data and to be able to frame and re-frame the solution/s using tested management paradigms and models are the incontestably expedient ways of the present.

Needless to say, there are school officials who, despite having inadequate formal management education, guided their units to perform unexpectedly well. Some may argue that it is due to the old but strong and tested organizational structure, system, processes and practices of the institution or unit that they inherited and that this should be credited. Nevertheless, there are indeed neophyte school administrators with unique success stories due primarily to focus, hard work, and timing. And, maybe, a little luck. Unfortunately, they are more of an exception than a rule.

Thus, the intervention for the ‘disconnect,’ an individual without the required management KSAB appointed to a management position, is to enroll him to a development and training program in management. The development and training program should guide the said school administrator through the stages that lead from competency acquisition to capability development to capacity management.

by Br. Arthur B. Dingel, OP

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