May 25, 2010, 5:51 am

Levels of Competency

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business,Career
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I recently had lunch with Mr. Consipiracy from my MBA program. While I was having a delicious General Tao (I’m a sucker for saucy fried chicken) and he was making me jealous (and feeling guilty) with his Thai vegetable soup, he shared another one of his great theories. This one was regarding the different levels of competency an individual may attain.

In fact, there are 4 levels of competency and I must agree that his theory is right on the money as you can indentify any individual in of the 4.

Unconscious Incompetence

This is probably the most dangerous type of individual; those who don’t know much and aren’t aware of the fact.  Therefore they think they are on the ball! I’m sure you can point to several people in this category.   Some say “Ignorance is Bliss”.  There is a psychological phenomenon explaining this; we usually tend to ignore anything that could affect our self esteem. Therefore, when you are not good at something, some people just quit and some people keep doing it and reinforce the fact that they feel they’re capable and good at it. Strange isn’t?

The worst part is that we are all unaware & incompetent at something. We just don’t want to hear about it 😉

Conscious Incompetence

This is when you put your self esteem aside and decide to face the truth. You acknowledge that you are not good at something and you try to either improve your skill or never do it again. If it’s at your job, you are better off improving your skill 😉

For example, I am not good at handyman-type chores. I barely know what to do with a screwdriver and a hammer. At least I know that I am incompetent so I either pay the rent-a-husband to do the manual stuff or try to learn from others.

Conscious Competence

This is when you are good at something (for real) and you know it. This is a bit tricky because when you feel that you are good at something; you are either good at it or you are unaware of your incompetence (remember above). Since most people are polite, nobody will ever dare tell you!

I guess that if you succeed over time, you can presume that you are competent in something. However, some fields are more difficult than others to evaluate (such as being a parent for example!). On the other hand, if you are good at your job and people recognize your work, then you become conscious of your competence.

This is a level where you gain confidence and you can use  your knowledge to help others. For example, I can do this at work as a financial planner.

Unconscious Competence

We call these folks “naturals”.   They are gifted and tend to be modest perhaps naïve about their abilities who are unconscious of their competence. A famous example would be Tiger Woods. At a young age, he was winning every golf tournament in site. He was born to be the most prolific golfer in history. However, his golfing techniques were not that good and his coach had to change it over. But he was so naturally good that he was still able to win every game he played.

Some people are born with a true gift. Unfortunately, many of them are not aware they have such gift. Sooner or later, they will discover it. In the meantime, they are just part of the common folk, generally unaware of the talents acting like regular goofs around the table 😉

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