Education Competencies: Functional/technical skills

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success. View all competencies.

Overview
Possesses required functional and technical knowledge and skills to do his or her job at a high level of accomplishment; demonstrates active interest and ability to enhance and apply new functional skills.
Proficiency level
Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert
Has and uses the required functional and technical knowledge and skills necessary to do his or her job Has and uses the required functional and technical knowledge and skills to do his or her job at a high level of accomplishment Demonstrates an active interest in enhancing current skills and learning new ones; applies advanced functional or technical knowledge to do his or her job at a high level of accomplishment Demonstrates an avid interest in continuously enhancing current skills and learning new ones; applies advanced functional or technical knowledge to process innovation and complex problem solving; demonstrates an exemplary level of accomplishment in job performance
Chooses appropriate tools or technology for the task Chooses appropriate tools or technology for tasks; experiments with new processes, tools, or technologies to determine applicability Chooses appropriate tools or technology for tasks; improves or redesigns processes, tools, or technologies to determine applicability Insightfully selects, combines, or invents appropriate tools or technology for tasks; improves or redesigns processes, tools, or technologies
Has the capability and knowledge base to share technical skills with others Provides opportunities for others to learn technical skills and concepts Consistently shares expertise with others, teaching skills and explaining concepts Is sought out by others for technical expertise and knowledge and for troubleshooting of complex technical issues
 
Overdoing functional/technical skills
  • May be seen as too narrow-minded
  • May overdevelop or depend too much upon technical and functional knowledge and skills at the expense of personal, interpersonal, and managerial skills
  • May use deep technical knowledge and skills to avoid ambiguity and risk
 
Essential questions
To improve your proficiency, ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis:
  • What training or classes can I take right now to learn new skills and processes?
  • What publications can I subscribe to and read to familiarize myself with new technology?
  • Whom in my organization can I turn to for assistance with functional or technical problems?
  • What function or skill am I adept at that I can teach someone else in my organization?
  • What equipment or tools do I regularly use that need to be upgraded?
  • When others ask me for help, do I explain to them what I am doing, or do I just do it?
To avoid overdoing functional/technical skills, ask yourself:
  • Am I too focused on functional or technical skills that I overlook simpler solutions?
  • Am I condescending to others who are less adept than I?
  • Am I too dependent upon functional or technical skills, and neglect improving my personal or managerial skills?
 
Interview questions
  • Please describe a period of time in which you were fully applying your functional and technical knowledge and skills and were performing at your highest level. What was the situation? Describe your performance or accomplishments and how you achieved them.
  • Describe a situation, task, or project in which you carefully selected the tools, technology, or processes you would apply. Which did you use “as is” and which—if any—did you redesign or have to invent? What were the results?
  • Briefly describe several situations in which you shared your technical knowledge or skill with others. What prompted you to share? How did you share it, and what were the results?
 
Learning on the job
Learning on your own: These self-development remedies will help you build your skill(s).
  • Locate a pro: Enlist the assistance of a professional in a specific function or technology to teach or tutor you. Ask questions regarding the process, the critical elements to employ, and helpful reference tools.
  • Sign up: Seek out and participate in workshops and conferences that deal with what you need to know. Enroll in appropriate professional associations, and read their literature.
  • Find the authoritative work on your function or technology: Obtain the standard reference book that is considered to be the most authoritative on the specific function or technology. Subscribe to a journal, and read the back issues.
  • Meet the notables: Identify the leaders in your function or technology. Buy books, read articles, and attend lectures or conferences that feature them.
  • Learn from those around you: Seek the opinions of others in your function or technology regarding which skills or knowledge is important, and how they learned them. Employ their suggestions.
  • Take a course: Enroll in college or university evening or weekend courses that teach your function or technology. Take advantage of training courses offered in the workplace.
  • Consult your past: Use learning methods that you have used successfully in previous endeavors.
  • Find an expert: Hire a consultant or private tutor to help you learn.
  • Learn to think like an expert in the technology: Pick the brain of an expert in the field, asking what is and is not important. Observe this person at his or her skill. Develop five key questions to consider when technical issues arise.
  • Teach others: Teach new or different aspects of the function or technology to a small group.
Learning from develop-in-place assignments: These part-time develop-in-place assignments will help you build your skill(s).
  • Study an aspect of your job or a technical area you’ve not studied before.
  • Manage the purchase of new equipment, materials, or curriculum.
  • Do a problem-prevention analysis on a program or curriculum, and present it to those involved.
  • Initiate a new program or procedure, and follow it through to implementation.
  • Train or teach others in a function or technology you don’t know well.
Learning more from your plan: These additional remedies will help make this development plan more effective for you.
  • Learning from experience, feedback, and other people:
    • Learn from mentors or tutors, soliciting and accepting feedback.
    • Learn from interviewing others. Ask what, how, and why they do what they do, where they learned it, and how they keep it current and relative.
    • Get feedback from those in authority. Communicate that you are open to constructive criticism and are willing to work on issues they view as important.
    • Get feedback from your direct reports. Set a positive tone, and don’t retaliate if you don’t agree.
    • Get feedback from peers and colleagues. Promote trust to get honest, quality feedback.
    • Be open and non-defensive when others offer feedback. Ask for examples and details, and take notes.
  • Learning from courses
    • Take advantage of on-the-job training. Take outside courses in the function or technology you seek. Practice.
    • Take a survey course. Get a general background overview of your topic of interest.
    • Take a strategic course. Stretch your thinking to prepare for and anticipate future challenges.
Suggested readings
There are no suggested readings for this competency, as there are thousands of functional and technical skills.
 
Next steps
 
Copyright © 1992, 1996, 2001-2003 by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This work is derived from the LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT® Competency Library developed and copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo for Lominger Limited, Inc.
This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success.