Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

KSAs and KSAEs

It's how often you are effective!How Effective Are You? That’s What Counts!

You have heard of KSAs: Knowlege, Skills and Attitudes. Those are the Domains of Learning, developed from the work of Benjamin Bloom in the 1950s–and still being refined. The levels within each group provide the basis for learning objectives, lesson plans, tests, job descriptions and performance evaluations.

KSAs Aren’t Enough

You would think if someone could analyze, evaluate and create (the highest levels of knowledge), had mastery over work skills (the highest levels of skills) and consistently was positive and and focused on doing well (characterizing, which is the highest level of attitudes) that he or she would be successful at work. Unfortunately, as you know, there are people who fit all of those descriptions, but who nevertheless are not effective–and effective is what counts.

Someone was telling me about a coworker who is knowledgeable about many aspects of her work and skillful in many ways as well.  She is highly motivated and believes in the power of positive thinking.  The only thing that keeps her from being as successful as she would like is this: She isn’t effective. People don’t like to work with her; she creates problems wherever she goes; she is a source of irritation and frustration for many people. She doesn’t get more work done, she reduces the amount and quality of work. Another woman was described to me recently as being knowledgeable and skillful with a great attitude–but she sometimes seems disorganized and unfocused mentally and doesn’t inspire the confidence she merits.

I know a man who is a tremendous source of knowledge about many things. He has the talent and skill to write, speak, find problems and develop solutions and do a wide range of mechanical, mathematical and written work. He has a strong set of values from which he never wavers. But, he consistently has problems where he works because he is often engaged in a conflict with someone. He is viewed as ineffective and a liablity.

KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes) must be supplemented with traits and behaviors in order to result in effectiveness. Certainly there are those who are so brilliant or talented that their weird traits or obnoxious behavior is tolerated. But even those people usually have effective staff who negotiate the contracts and soothe the conflicts stirred up by their clients.  (And you and I are not so brilliant and talented that we will be tolerated.)

Effectiveness is Habit-Forming or Vice Versa

The argument could be made that the traits and behaviors to which I refer are actually skills: interpersonal skills, communication skills, conflict resolution skills, self-control and self-development skills.  Or, that they reflect a lack of appropriate attitudes or an excess of an otherwise positive attitude. That is all true. But, some aspect of effectiveness involves style, approaches and habits. There is a reason the famous book refers to Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, rather than Seven KSAs of Highly Effective People.

Test Your Effectiveness

So, how can you know whether you possess the E to go with your KSAs? These are a mix of questions, but perhaps they can help you decide if you are being as effective as you’d like to be:

1. Are you achieving your professional goals or do you feel held back often?
2. Do you have the enthusiastic support of most of the important people in your work world?  
3. Can you point to significant accomplishments that matter to those above you in the business?
4. Do coworkers who are generally respected and not known for pettiness, distance themselves from you?
5. Do you get asked to help or do you have to push yourself into groups or committees?
6. Do you find yourself needing to self-market to overcome your reputation?
7. If most of your coworkers and immediate supervisors were asked, would they commend your work effectiveness?
8. Have others hinted to you–or come right out and said–that your work habits create problems for them and you?
9. Does it seems that the people who are most impressed with you don’t work closely with you–and those who are least impressed, do?
10. Do you get thanked often for how effective you are or do you have to tell people to make sure they know?

It could be that those who are least effective will not recognize their deficiencies. However, honest self-appraisal could help all of us find the areas in which we are least effective, even if we think we’re not as problematic as those people. Or, you may feel glad to consider how well things are going. If that’s the case, thank the people who are helping you be effective.

The bottom line: If you feel sure you possess a high level of KSAs but you don’t seem to be effective, put your focus on identifying and improving problem traits and behaviors. That is what allows your KSAs to become high levels of KSAEs.

June 10th, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 8 comments