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Competence at Work: Models for Superior Performance Hardcover – March 22, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0471548096 ISBN-10: 047154809X Edition: 1st

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Competence at Work: Models for Superior Performance + The Art and Science of Competency Models: Pinpointing Critical Success Factors in Organizations + The Handbook of Competency Mapping: Understanding, Designing and Implementing Competency Models in Organizations
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 22, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047154809X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471548096
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Provides analysis of 650 jobs, based on 20 years of research using the McClelland/McBer job competence assessment (JCA) methodology. Includes generic job models for entrepreneurs, technical professionals, salespeople, service workers and corporate managers. Defines JCA and describes in detail how to conduct JCA studies. Suggests future directions and uses for competency research.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book gives a comprehensive competency dictionary using behaviorally anchored rating scales for each competency. It also gives step by step guidelines on how to use the dictionary in all types of HR decision making. It is clearly written and is based on years of extensive research. Using this book eliminates the need to use expensive and dependency creating consulting services. Every HR professional should have it on their shelf. Moreover, as a training professional, if I had to choose 2 books to have on my bookshelf, I would choose this book and Performance Consulting by Dana Gaines Robinson.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book provides detailed information on a number of useful techniques for developing competency models for human job performance. These models can then be used, in turn, as a basis for personnel assessmen, training and career pathing. The book also contains a number of pre-established and well-researched generic job models which can be adapted and used as a basis for further competency development.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert McAvoy on August 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Lyle Spencer has written a book that is lucid, well-organized, and a concise reference on human competence. If this was history, you would know that he had been there and had not merely interviewed those who were. This is so because his work is informed by original research. Spencer begins the presentation within a framework of competence that is criterion-referenced. The competence dictionary is organized around competency clusters that are well-defined and behaviorally anchored. But theory is not left to wrestle with the reader's experience. Spencer provides the practioner with a guide that takes the user through all steps in the conduct of a competency study. Spencer closes with a set of generic competency models that the practioner can tailor to his or her client before drawing the reader's attention to the variety of applications that study data may serve. Though a bit pricey, you can purchase it with the knowledge that it will stand up well as your single source of reference.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Charles K. Brooks on December 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have studied and used dozens of books on the topic of competencies, and many are useful, but this is the one I return to most often. My copy of this book is ragged, dog-eared, coffee-stained, and marked by many colored tabs for quick reference. Competence at Work changed my approach to human resources, and I actually earned some national honors and recognition for innovations in assessment and workforce planning by using it as a guide. It yields an effective understanding of competencies and how to apply them in processes such as recruiting, selection, development, performance management, succession, and workforce planning.
Some insights and tools in the book are particularly valuable:
Criterion sampling:
Compare high performers to average performers in order to understand how each performance group achieves their different levels of success.
Operant measures:
Measure how people operate in the real world as opposed to how they respond to a list of multiple-choice items. It describes Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) as the preferred approach, but you might have to access other sources for a complete understanding of the BEI.
Competency definitions and scales:
These alone are worth the price of the book. Based on behaviors that are empirically related to performance in a wide variety of jobs, they provide a quick-start to comparing performance groups and developing competency models, and they provide a framework for both assessing and developing competencies in people.
The principles and methods outlined in this book allow one to construct and apply competency models and human resource practices that get results. If I could have only one book on human resources, it would be this one! If I could have only three, the other two would also be by Spencer: Reengineering Human Resources and Calculating Human Resource Costs and Benefits.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This early work on competency modeling describes the McClelland/McBer job competence assessment (JCA) methodology that heavily influenced much of subsequent practice. Readers of Lyle and Signe Spencer's book will gain an historical perspective on current competency work in human capital and organizational psychology.

The several competency models included in the book are well-documented and cover a variety of occupational families, including technicians, professionals, salespeople, service workers, managers and entrepreneurs. The multi-chapter Competency Dictionary is a helpful starting point for current modeling in some occupations, but is too dated to be used without revision. Readers should compare the book's leadership models with contemporary products such as those in FYI: For Your Improvement, A Guide for Development and Coaching. Many competencies remain relatively unchanged with time while others have evolved with technological and social changes in the workplace. Such comparison yields insight about which competencies may represent basic human abilities and which are defined more in response to the demands of work and its organizational setting.

The book's description of JCA methodology includes an introductory chapter on Behavioral Event Interviewing. Much of the advice in this chapter is general to all interviews that elicit job-related information. The chapter may be helpful to practitioners collecting critical incidents for job analysis or developing questions for a structured hiring interview. The book also describes how to conduct Thematic Content Analysis that captures key concepts from volumes of interview-generated text data.
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