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Competence Grading Scale

Competence is the combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to carry out a job to the required standard of performance. Figure 12.6 gives a vocabulary and shows a simple way of grading competence through a spectrum of increasing effectiveness in specific areas of competence.

We tried some mechanistic scoring systems, but quickly abandoned them. They were too complex and did not provide answers to which we could relate.

Competence Grading Scale

Figure 12.6 Competence Grading Scale

Competence Management

It was important to start up our new grassroots refinery with a minimum staffing level, but an adequate level of competence. Using the approach shown in Figures 12.5 and 12.6, we defined specific job competencies as the combinations of knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to carry out that job to the required standard of performance. Four competence levels were defined in simple everyday language. These are shown in Table 12.1 Competence Levels.






Knows what is involved and when to ask for help




Can explain the knowledge and use it with some help

Can do (skilled)


Competent able work with minimum help




Expert in this area and can diagnose & resolve significant & unusual problems

Table 12.1 Competence Levels


Figure 12.7 Example: Job Competence Matrix

For the technician and operator grades, we devised a grading scheme which defined competence levels and rewarded the acquisition of skills. This is discussed in detail in Chapter 13.

All too often when looking at competence, the focus is on the technical aspects. We found that delivering a professional performance required a combination of personal and managerial competence as well as the discipline specific competence. The level of each and emphasis varied with the job. Small teams of knowledgeable individuals used this methodology to define the needed competency in each role whether as a mechanical technician, a mechanical maintenance engineer, a project engineer, or any other position. This set the target for each person so any gap and training needs could be defined.

To establish and record competence levels for the technical and managerial grades, we used matrices, as shown in Figure 12.7. This figure shows an example of a job competence matrix we used to map the required competence for Inspection, Mechanical Maintenance, and Civil positions. Three job levels are shown here; for ease of understanding, I have called them Manager (M), Senior (S), and Assistant (A). Scores in the matrix follow the definitions and theory given earlier with

Ignorance = 1 Awareness = 2 Working Knowledge = 2 Can Do and Skilled = 3 Troubleshoot/Adapt = 4

We found that some temporary facilitation was needed to attain a common understanding of these terms, but it was not a big hurdle. Only a sample of a total matrix is given here and it needs significant expansion to reflect complete reality. The competences themselves and levels needed are specific to the type of business. The matrix will need to reflect that.

Figure 12.8 shows a matrix which we used to compare the individual job holder's competence with the job requirements. This gave a structured way of capturing this information.

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