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WHY Toppen

Capability - the right competency set up


Businesses must adapt to a pace of change never before seen. This is not only about digitalisation, but also includes new business models, new markets, product innovation, margins under pressure, new ways of working (effective and efficient), CSR, sustainability etc. It is all about foreseeing competencies. This is today's biggest challenge for any business, which is why HR have to be able to contribute to the strategy development process.

HR must continuously identify any gaps in future competencies and bridge the gaps by developing people accordingly (either through developing existing people or hiring externally) in order for the company to deliver the strategy. Competencies have to be a part of every business thinking!

We do not know what competencies will prevail in the future, but the equation will certainly include learning, analytical thinking and innovation.

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Organisational capability encompasses developing people (“the right person at the right place at the right time”); competencies and skills to allocate 'resources' in order to deliver on market demand and company strategy. Equally as important is supporting systems and HR processes as well as the quality, risk, organisational design (user perspective oriented) - other critical business capabilities.

Twice, I have been involved in framework design and roll out in a complex global process (well of job families, roles, levels) and in a far more simple local start-up (with a simpler but still complex competency matrix). Irrespective of complexity, organisation, scope and regulatory constraints, the strategy, values and culture are the focal points. The ordeal lies in limiting the number of competencies/variables; simplicity is difficult but a requisite. In a disruptive business environment, new and different competencies supporting the future strategy will have to be applied.

The capability assessment is the #1 HR issue at hand. In the management team, HR must be at the helm in this continuous process and deploy new competencies, prior to changes occurring! There is no blueprint and failure isn't an option. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another. Yesteryear's static capability set-ups will not work anymore. Disruption drives companies to operate on rolling forecasts and organisational agility. And, this is just the beginning as technology continuously disrupts how we operate. For HR, there will be fewer 'transactional' tasks as machines will take over (as they are faster and learn from errors).

Capability or competency gaps could be filled in a number of ways: bought-in-services/partnerships, acquiring companies with broad or specialised services, secondments, new hires, hiring new additional competencies, organisational (re)design, cooperation with external suppliers and other new ways of working.

I strongly believe in re-skilling existing people in a 'life long learning' working environment, rather than replacing and hiring externally. Re-skilling is the optimal solution seen from multiple angles; employee engagement, culture, cost, company reputation, CSR, available competence etc. It also gives people a sense of self value (because they are).

Businesses are disrupted more than ever before, and being in front is crucial. The Baby Boomers – the largest generation ever – have started to depart work life - with younger generations entering in lower numbers. And, unhappy talents (irrespective of gender and age) treacherously vote with their feet. You do the math…! Hence, organisational capabilities and competencies will both become the #1 future competitive factor and the core HR task.

The survivors are those who understand and have the will and capability to adapt.

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