Competencies are underlying characteristics, traits, skills, knowledge, and behaviors that enable a person to perform their job effectively or at a superior level. According to Boyatis (1982), competencies refer to a combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics that are required for effective performance on a job.

Competencies can be used to define the behaviors, skills, and knowledge that are needed for success in a particular role or job. By identifying the competencies that are required for a job, line managers can develop competency frameworks that can be used to assess employee performance, identify training and development needs, and support career development.

A competency framework is a tool that can be used by line managers to coach, train, appraise, and engage their teams. It provides a structured approach for identifying the competencies that are required for a job, and for assessing employee performance against those competencies. A competency framework can also be used to identify gaps in employee skills and knowledge, and to develop training programs that address those gaps.

Competencies can be divided into different categories, such as technical competencies, interpersonal competencies, and leadership competencies. Technical competencies refer to the skills and knowledge that are required for a particular job or task, while interpersonal competencies refer to the ability to work effectively with others. Leadership competencies refer to the skills and behaviors that are required for effective leadership.

Overall, competencies are a critical component of effective job performance, and competency frameworks can be a useful tool for line managers to support the development and performance of their teams. By identifying the competencies that are required for a job, line managers can develop targeted training and development programs, provide feedback and coaching to employees, and support career development.

Emotional labour : Gendered and raced competencies in service work?

Skills are socially constructed so, people of different gender, race and class, can be unfairly labelled as having less or different skills compared to others in the labour market (Grugulis, 2007)

  • Soft skills-team working, communication and problem-solving are important skills and competencies in the service sector i.e. sales, nursing,  cabin crew. However, this service or product transaction process with customers can include ‘emotional labour’ where the worker must present ‘appropriate’ emotions which they may not feel towards the customer . For example, being shouted at by a customer and having to smile (Hoscshild, 1983) 
  • In client facing roles where the service or product is delivered by a person they becomes part of the transaction process (Noon and Blyton, 2008)

Also, soft-skills can be stereotyped according to gender, race and class . For example , Nurses who must manage their emotional labour to present a detached professional image to patients and their families despite how they feel (Gruglis, 2007, Bolton, 2001)

Emotional labor refers to the management of emotions and feelings in the workplace, especially in jobs that require interaction with customers or clients. In service work, emotional labor is often performed by employees who must manage their emotions to meet the expectations of their employers and customers.

Research suggests that emotional labor is gendered and raced, meaning that women and people of color are often expected to perform emotional labor in ways that differ from those expected of men and white people. For example, women are often expected to display emotions such as warmth, empathy, and caring in their interactions with customers, while men are expected to display emotions such as confidence and authority. Similarly, people of color may be expected to perform emotional labor that reflects racial stereotypes, such as being subservient or exotic.

These gendered and raced expectations can create a double bind for employees who must navigate both the expectations of their employers and the expectations of their customers. For example, women who do not display the expected emotional labor may be seen as cold or unapproachable, while women who display too much emotional labor may be seen as emotional or irrational. Similarly, people of color who do not conform to racial stereotypes may be seen as unauthentic or not fitting in, while those who conform too much may be seen as reinforcing stereotypes.

Overall, the gendered and raced nature of emotional labor highlights the importance of recognizing and challenging these expectations in service work. Employers should strive to create a workplace culture that values authenticity and allows employees to express their emotions in ways that feel natural to them, rather than conforming to gendered or racial expectations. Additionally, training programs can be developed to help employees navigate the challenges of emotional labor and to support them in developing the competencies necessary for effective service work.

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