The Four Levels of Competence

There have been many articles over the years written about the four levels of competence.

I remember coming across this concept years ago in my training days when I was in the grassroots business for a DC based grassroots company.

Every new client brought a new project with new issues we had to get up to speed with in a hurry.  Hence, we were always starting out at the bottom rung of the ladder.

As trainers, it was our job to get the staff up the ladder so they could get on the phones and start selling.  Yes, grassroots is selling just like membership you're just asking them to write a letter, make a phone, etc. instead of asking for membership dues.

When you hire a new staff member at your chamber it's likely they may not be familiar with our industry or what a chamber does for its members. Again, they're starting at the bottom of the ladder.

Whether you're familiar with this concept or not, as leaders you've been helping folks climb the ladder on a regular basis.

The four levels of competence in a nutshell are:

  • Unconsciously competent - you don't know you know.
  • Consciously competent - you know you know.
  • Consciously incompetent - you know you don't know.
  • Unconsciously incompetent - you don't know you don't know.

As stated before, we all start out at the bottom rung of the ladder (I've ordered them this way for illustration) in our first job, new job or a new assignment.

The goal is to make your way up the ladder with the ultimate goal of leaning towards the top ring.

The problem with the top ring, in my opinion?

That's a place where boredom sets in.

As managers of staff, that's a red flag for its time to potentially find a new job. The reason?  There's no challenge anymore.

I don't know about you, but I like a job that continues to challenge my intellect and curiosity. I want to keep trying new things (i.e. programs, projects, or services).  That's what keeps us sharp.

Where do you fall on the ladder?

Here's to climbing the ladder - consciously!

For more information from Wikipedia on the four levels of competence go HERE.

Or for a great article titled The Conscious Competence Ladder from Mind Tools go HERE.