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How to Improve Competency

How to improve competency

Training vs. Competency

There is a vast difference between training and competency.

‘Training’ provides a safe and supportive environment for learners to acquire knowledge and practice skills.  The practical and interactive nature of our courses at Adele Adams Associates, provides a fantastic learning opportunity which is a great start to achieving competency.

Whereas ‘competency’ is the ability to demonstrate the skills necessary to achieve the required outcome. The development of competency requires the right support to help learners apply the knowledge and develop the required skills.

Many of us may have first-hand experience that training doesn’t guarantee competency – that’s a brave statement from a training company! However, at Adele Adams Associates, we are well aware that the training course is the start of the journey towards developing competency for many learners. For others, it may be confirmation of knowledge, challenging current beliefs or a refreshment of the topic.

Adele’s 3 Top Tips For How to Develop Competency

Once resource has been invested in training your teams, how do you enable and encourage the development of competency?

I think a good starting point is being aware of potential barriers to developing competency and ensuring we have done as much as we can to remove or reduce them.  The question to ask is ”have we set learners up for success?”

1. Improve your Food Safety Culture

Perhaps the greatest barrier is the lack of a positive food safety culture – does the ‘environment’ we put trained individuals back into encourage the use of their newly acquired knowledge? Does it provide positive examples and role models to follow? We have previously seen much resource dedicated to ‘Awareness Training’ of large numbers of line operatives, only to put enthused individuals back into an environment where nothing has changed. If the food safety behaviours demonstrated by supervisors and managers are not correct, the training message gets destroyed. A ‘top down’ approach is key, as actions speak louder than words!

2. Creating a confidence to ask

Do your team members know who to ask if they have queries or need support? Do you feel your teams will speak up if they don’t feel confident in a task they are being asked to do? Coupled with language barriers and a potential fear of embarrassment, the barriers to developing competency can soon build up.  A sound understanding of food safety and the confidence to use it properly are also essential elements for risk-based thinking.

3. Use positive messages and reward competency

A consequence for positive and negative behaviour and demonstrated compliance is key in changing behaviour. I think, historically, we have often placed greater emphasis on consequences for negative behaviour or a visible lack of compliance, such as audit non-conformances and retraining – sometimes without first gaining a detailed understanding of the underlying reasons.

Using a positive consequence, in its simplest form – verbal praise, we can start to encourage correct behaviours and develop robust levels of competence.

Rewarding competency with a clear career development pathway can help ‘shining stars’ rise through the ranks to become the next generation of ‘home grown’ leaders which is vital for an industry which can struggle to attract talent.

How can we help?

Workplace competency assessment is a topic we are dedicating some resource to at the moment and developing some factory-based tools to help our clients measure and improve competency. So please watch this space or get in touch if you’d like to register your interest.

 

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