Difference Between Competence and Performance

Competence vs Performance

Competence and performance are two words commonly used in many fields such as human resources, education, skills development, training etc. However, due to the proximity of the two words and the similarity of contexts in which they are utilized, competency and performance are often used interchangeably despite their many differences.

What is Competency?

Competence in human resources can be simply described as the ability of an individual to perform his or her role in a proper manner or being adequately qualified to perform a specific role. Encompassing of a set of defined behaviours that act as a guide in identifying, developing and evaluating employees, the term “competence” was first introduced by R.W. White in 1959 as a concept for performance motivation.

Various people define competence in many ways, but some scholars consider competence to be a combination of cognitive skills, practical and theoretical knowledge, behaviour and values used to improve performance. However, competency is known to vacillate in nature as the manner in which a competent person may act in certain situations may depend upon the context of the situation.

What is Performance?

Performance can be defined as an activity or the accomplishment of a certain task measured against known standards of completeness that has been preset, accuracy, cost and speed. After a certain performance, having a performance measurement that determines the reporting, analysing and/or collecting information regarding the performance of an individual, organization, group or a system is necessary. Performance can also be defined as fulfilment of obligations which in turn releases the performer from the obligations of the contract. Performance is the actual realization of an action, or the manner in which mechanism functions when employed in a certain task.

What is the difference between Performance and Competence?

As the two terms are often used in the study and application of human resources, performance and competence help evaluate individuals and their true capabilities. However, several differences between them set them apart.

• Competence is the ability of an individual to perform one’s duties or being adequately qualified in order to do so. Performance is an activity or the accomplishment of a given task.

• Competence involves “knowing”. Performance involves “doing”.

• It is difficult to assess competence without evaluating the performance.