Competency Models

Competency models are widely used in business for defining and assessing competencies within organizations in both hard and soft skills. They represent a key component of recruitment and hiring, as well as talent and performance management activities of HR departments.  Competency assessments often help form the basis for training programs and learning content, both formal and informal.

Competency models have emerged as valuable tools employed by human resources and training departments to define skill and knowledge requirements of specific jobs, to assess competencies and performances, and help set business strategy.

The models can be created for specific jobs, job groups, occupations, industries and organizations. In certain areas such as sales and leadership, necessary competencies have been extensively studied and a broad consensus reached regarding specific skills, attitudes and behaviors needed to succeed.


Effective models also form the basis for linking competency with organizational strategy, an important best practice, training consultants advise. They also enable organizations to link expertise with HR processes, evaluation and often productivity goals.  The Competency Model Clearinghouse, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, recommends that organizations seeking to build competency models follow a five-step process:

  1. Gather background information. That includes cataloging existing resources, organizing resources, comparing contents to the building blocks framework, and determining commonalities for an industry model.
  2. Develop a draft competency model framework. Identify themes and patterns in the information, and relate the information to content areas.
  3. Gather feedback from subject matter experts. If possible, select experts from across geographic and industry sub-sectors to gain the broadest perspective.
  4. Refine the framework. Add or delete competencies as appropriate.
  5. Validate the framework. This essential step ensures acceptance by the target community of users.
Entrepreneurship Compentency Model | Kolena Corporation


About the Model – The Kolena Entrepreneurship Competency Model is depicted in a graphic consisting of nine tiers.  The arrangement of the tiers in a pyramidal shape is not meant to be hierarchical, or to imply that competencies at the top are at a higher level of skill.  The model’s shape represents the increasing specialization and specificity in the application of skills as you move up the tiers.  Tiers 1-4 have been developed and are divided into blocks.  The blocks represent competency areas, that is, the applied skills, knowledge, abilities essential to successful entrepreneurial performance.  A table of the competency definitions and associated key behaviors accompanies the graphic.

Tiers 1 through 3 contain Foundation Competencies, which form the foundation needed to be ready to enter the workplace.

Tier 1 –Personal Effectiveness Competencies are shown as hovering below the pyramid because these competencies are essential for all life roles.  Often referred to as “soft skills,” personal effectiveness competencies are generally learned in the home or community and reinforced and honed at school and in the workplace. They represent personal attributes that may present some challenges to teach or assess.

Tier 2 – Academic Competencies are critical competencies primarily learned in a school setting.  They include cognitive functions and thinking styles.  Academic competencies are likely to apply to all industries and occupations.

Tier 3 – Workplace Competencies represent motives and traits, as well as interpersonal and self-management styles.  They generally are applicable to a large number of occupations and industries.

Tiers 4 and 5 contain Industry Competencies, which are specific to an industry or industry sector.  Since entrepreneurship is not an industry, tiers 4 and 5 have been broken out as follows:

Tier 4 – Entrepreneurship Technical Competencies represent the knowledge and skills that are common to all entrepreneurial activities.  These technical competencies build on, but are more specific than, competencies represented on lower tiers.

Tier 5 – Entrepreneurial Focus Areas represent types of enterprise.  Related competencies may be developed by interest groups or communities of practice.

Tiers 6 through 9 represent the specialization that occurs within specific occupations within an industry.  Information on occupational competencies is available through O*NET OnLine (

Tier 1 –Personal Effectiveness Competencies

Tier 2 – Academic Competencies

Tier 3 – Workplace Competencies

Tier 4 – Technical Competencies

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top