What are unique skills?

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Distinct competencies are the unique skills and experience of a company’s workforce that provide a competitive advantage and add value to customers. They are difficult for competitors to imitate and businesses must constantly assess and cultivate them to evolve and reach new markets.

Also known as core competencies or capabilities, discrete competencies are the collective talents and experience inherent in a given company’s workforce. These essential characteristics are considered highly desirable as they provide the business with what it needs to be competitive in the market, add value to customers and ultimately achieve the company’s goals and objectives. There is no ideal mix of these talents and experiences, as the tools needed by different companies vary.

To assess whether the distinct competencies are needed to allow the company to compete in the marketplace and achieve its goals, each talent or skill must be evaluated. To be of value to the business effort, it must increase the potential to provide customer benefits. While the competency need not lead directly to this goal, it should contribute to the process at some point in the service chain.

Distinctive skills are also a bit difficult for competitors to copy or imitate. This difficulty can stem from difficulty in attracting employees with similar levels and types of competence, or from an inability to obtain individuals who can also bring the same level of expertise to the business effort. In both cases, competitors find it difficult to create the same mix of resources and therefore cannot execute the same type of business plan with similar success.

One of the ways businesses continue to evolve is by constantly assessing the extraordinary skills or distinctive competencies needed to take the operation to the next level. As a company expands its customer base, needs are likely to emerge that were not present in the past. By looking for people who have the talent needed to meet those needs or cultivate those talents among the existing workforce, the company can position itself to not only retain its current customers, but also reach new sectors of the consumer market, allowing it to go to places that the competition has not yet discovered.

Any successful enterprise will involve the presence and efficient use of distinct competencies. Small businesses can display essential skills like a strong customer service ethic that helps them compete with larger, more established companies. Mail order companies can hire talented people to create a great ordering process that ensures fast delivery to customers. Factories may have people who are especially talented at devising a process control strategy that eliminates raw material waste and allows the business to reduce the total cost of production. As long as talent or knowledge is considered crucial or essential to the operation’s role, it can be considered a distinct competency.

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