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Core competencies and performance management in Canadian public libraries

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of the paper is to present the performance management process and the core competency frameworks of six Canadian public libraries. The core competencies that characterize the qualities for superior performance of library staff are described, as well as the way in which competencies are used throughout the performance management process and other related human resource functions. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A survey of 59 public libraries serving populations greater than 50,000 was undertaken. A total of six libraries reported using core competency frameworks for performance management purposes. Managers responsible for human resource functions were interviewed about the process of developing the competencies and the ways in which the competencies are used in their library systems. Findings ‐ The core competencies identified by the six public libraries are communication skills, interpersonal skills, customer service, analytical skills, accountability, adaptability, technological competence, planning and organizing skills, knowledge of the organization, creativity/innovation and leadership. Employees are evaluated against the core competencies in the performance appraisal process. Unsatisfactory performance in any competency requires an action plan to improve the necessary knowledge and skills. Research limitations/implications ‐ The number of libraries which have implemented core competencies for performance management is very limited. Future research should examine whether competency-based performance management has achieved the aim of improving performance. Practical implications ‐ The paper provides a useful overview of the concept of performance management and summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of competency-based performance management. Originality/value ‐ The paper presents an overview of competency-based performance management as implemented in six Canadian public libraries. The core competencies that characterize the qualities required for superior performance of library staff are described.
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Keywords: Canada; Competences; Human resource management; Performance appraisal; Performance management; Public libraries

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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