The Curse of Being Competent

By Robert O'Halloran Professor & Director, Hospitality Management, East Carolina University | September 06, 2013

Competence Defined

We hear the word competence or incompetence used frequently. To be competent implies a level of knowledge and or expertise in a certain area. No one can know everything but we often confuse competence with knowledge, common sense and work ethic. We all like to believe we are competent however, we know that not everyone is and that being competent often comes with additional responsibilities. Is the employee working optimally, or can they assume more responsibility? Competence can be considered having the correct or adequate knowledge, skills or abilities to perform a task and/or a job and is about workload. We know that all jobs are not equal and therefore, workload is not equal. The question is "is the person capable and competent?" For example, one might be able to do a job but might not have the correct background and therefore need to make up for their lack of education and/or training through hard work.

Hiring Competence

How does it happen that incompetent people are hired? Why would anyone hire an incompetent person? In some instances, a trained and able workforce is difficult to identify and organizations use what has been referred to as "warm body syndrome" so they have someone, if not the right person, working. The question is, what are the standards set for those being hired and can they be measured? Focusing on competence in the work force we think of tools such as job descriptions, recruitment processes, training programs, and our own and our colleague's knowledge, skills and abilities. For example, in a system where jobs are grouped by level of competence, people can be at the same level or grade and be paid the same but not be performing at the same level of competency.

Employers love competent people. They all want to recruit them however, not everyone is equally competent. Some employees are more competent than others and often do not work at the same level of intensity. So it becomes the job of the competent people to do their jobs and in some cases some of other people's jobs. Employers expect a "team" work ethic to get the job done and meet the needs of the guests. Therefore competent people often do more than their fair share.

Characteristics of Competence

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.


Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Frank Meek
Amy Bair
Jane Segerberg
Amy Locke
Edward Donaldson
Tara K. Gorman
Donald R. Boyken
Paul van Meerendonk
Mercedita Roxas-Murray
Scott Nadel
Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.