Competency loss risk assessment

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A process to evaluate the risk of loosing competency in an organisation


This article provides methodology on how to initiate the organization's competency at risk assessment what will help managers of nuclear organizations to address HR issues on a regular basis, identify gaps and proactively respond to them.


Competence loss risk assessment (CLRA) is ‘up to bottom’ approach which can be easily implemented for the organizations with well-defined process and HR structure [9]. This approach shows the links between business goals of the organization, core processes, sub-processes, organizational competency needs and available human resources. It can be applied independently or in connection with knowledge loss risk assessment (KLRA), second is recommended.

Competence loss risk assessment is a five step process as it is shown in Figure 4.

FIG. 4. Competence at risk assessment process.


  • Step 1 — Competences mapping
  • Step 2 — Competences matrix development
  • Step 3 — Competence loss risk assessment
  • Step 4 — Actions implementation (link to KLRA)
  • Step 5 – Results evaluation

Step 1 — Competency mapping

This step is focusing on collecting initial information which is needed for the following competency at risk assessment.

Nuclear organizations managers of all levels can create competency map for their unites, departments or divisions on the basis of organization structure, organizational processes, sub-processes, on-going and future projects, taking in account requirements in staff positions needed for the successful business implementation (see Fig. 5).

FIG. 5. Example of competency mapping approach in connection with HR availability.

When the competency map is recognized it can be easily transferred into list of competency, as an example shown in Table 2.

Competency mapping

Step 2 — Competency at risk matrix development

On that stage managers create competency matrix in compliance with available human resources. Provide an assessment of the current workforce in the organization or department. Identify core and non-core functions. Provide assessment of future competency gaps due to changes in organizational structure, personnel rotation, ageing and retirement. Identify options to address any potential knowledge loss issues (e.g., process improvements, reorganization, and elimination of non-core activities). The idea of the analysis is that it helps to make a snapshot of the current situation and predict future risks due to staff attrition or rotation. Input:

  1. Map or List of organizational competency;
  2. Available HR of an organization (division, department, unit).


  1. Matrix with needs in competency and they availability for successful running the organizational processes.

The matrix should be developed on assumption that one person can covers one organizational competency. Though in practice often happened that key experts can possess knowledge, skills and experience which cover several organizational competencies. Such situation gives nuclear organizations reserve in competencies what is very important for the successful performance. Managers should assess current organizational competency and future needs. Providing simple analysis how available HR comply organizational competency needs. Matrix will give managers clear pictures what is missing and which competencies at risk. At the same time new competency demand comes from new projects evaluation. New tasks for organization like expanding capacity, decommissioning, restart, major modifications, performance improvement, long-term operation, etc. requires new competency and this become evident through analysis. The matrix building helps to see not only current situation but also predict future organization competency deficit and realize possible negative impact on organizational performance. Important to take into account issues with future attrition trend, lag time in recruiting and training.

FIG. 6. Example of an organizational unit competency at risk matrix.

While building matrix managers can also identify key experts in different fields. Some of them can be close to retirement age or planning to leave organization soon. It becomes visible and short-term prediction can help to see how this can impacted organizational competency, core and supporting processes and finally business goals. Corrective actions (step 3) with subject area expert can be initiated immediately, focusing on critical knowledge identification, it preservation and transfer, in another words, provide a low-level analysis called KLRM which is described in Section 4.3. Or long term initiatives can be implemented through action plan development for sustainable organizational competency development.

Step 3 — Risk assessment

Nuclear organizations managers provide assessment of future competency gaps due to changes in organizational structure, personnel rotation, ageing and retirement. Analysis result is the same matrix but focusing on future impacts on organizational competences. At the same time managers can define key experts in the different fields, which are close to retirement or leaving organization and can propose experts for corrective actions on tacit knowledge identification, transfer and preservation or in another words put expert to a low-level analysis called Knowledge loss risk assessment (KLRM).

Competence loss risk assessment shown in Figure 5 is a five step process:

FIG. 5. Competence loss risk assessment.

Step 4 — Actions

Based on the analysis results, managers should develop a strategic plan addressing organizational competence/knowledge loss and perform corrective actions. Step 4 ‘Actions’ often initiates strategic changes or modification in HR policy and programmes, such as:

  • Staff recruiting programme;
  • Training and retraining programme;
  • Staff rotation;
  • Succession plan modification;
  • Implementation knowledge loss risk assessment in accordance with Section 4.

Outputs of the step 3 can be:

  1. Determination of prioritized list of competences at risk;
  2. Identification of Critical positions;
  3. Detection of key expert at risk (in addition to KLRM);
  4. Estimations of costs to retain or/and renew it.

Thus providing the correction actions on a regular annual basis is recommended and is a proactive response to future competency risks.

Step 5 — Process efficiency evaluation

The process evaluation highlights the areas of inefficiency. Decomposition of KLRM complex procedures into its component parts helps to highlight the weak areas and identifies the opportunities for improvement. .The efficiency evaluation should be focused on:

  1. Plan for periodical review (periodically/annually);
  2. KPIs/metrics set up, e.g.:
    • number of experience reports
    • quality of experience reports (scale 1-5)
    • number of interviews (debriefings)
    • ratio of experts at risk and experts evaluated (interviewed)
    • number of on-the-job trainings / succession plans
    • number of experts at risk (high risk of loss)
    • number of knowledge at risk (high risk of loss)
    • number of knowledge transfers into the training materials / technical documentation
    • number of KM portal / database visits
    • The crieteria for corrective action can be, for example less than 70% of the plan fulfilment
  3. Process self-assessment revision (periodically / annually);
  4. Periodic updating of KLRM internal policy documents and relevant procedures;
  5. Periodic updating of KLRM templates, forms and questionnaires’;

Related articles

Competency management

Knowledge loss risk assessment

Competency map