Adding Competency Development to Your Safety Training

competency buildingIf, as I’ve said in the past, “training ain’t development” and if training by itself can’t achieve competency development, then what else needs to happen?  Here’s a very simple overview of what a structured development program might look like.

We’ll start with the KSA Matrix, or competency model.  Here we’ll want to define the knowledge, skills and abilities the participant should have to do the job and to perform all job tasks safely.

Next comes training.  Remember I said that development will likely include training, but that training in itself is not development.  Instead, it’s usually the start of the development process.

After the training we’ll need to verify that the participant has paid attention and that knowledge transfer has actually taken place. They’ll need to demonstrate knowledge mastery, and as you might expect, that’s usually done through some kind of post-training exam that focuses on the key concepts covered in the training class.

Once they’ve satisfied the knowledge requirement, then we need to begin building their skills around that knowledge, and one of the best ways to do that is through a mentorship program that utilizes a task list for that competency.  A task list outlines step-by-step what the participant needs to be able to DO based on the knowledge learned during training, and the assigned mentor could be any experienced coworker or team lead who has already demonstrated competency in that particular skill and is therefore qualified to show others how to do it.

After the mentor is satisfied that the participant has demonstrated proficiency in the task list, then it’s time to evaluate the level of competency through a performance test.  Here the participant is asked to perform on his own each task on the task list while the examiner observes and evaluates. Once the participant demonstrates the ability to consistently perform each task without the aid of a mentor, he’s reached the end of the development process and is now competent to do the job on his own.

from compliance to culture safety leadership workshops

Now again, this is a simplified version of the development process.  There are many more details to add to each step in this process, and we’ll begin to break all that down in our next installment.

That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time be sure all your safety initiatives are built in, not bolted on.


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About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.