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What motivates someone to move from competency to proficiency?

Conversations with Julie Podcast Episode #8 - with Rodo De Boer

Read Time: 5-6 minutes

Conversations with Julie acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which we all live, paying respect to elders, past, present and emerging. Julie honours the idea that shared stories are what connects us to the land, our ancestors, and each other.

Episode disclaimer: Remember this is a personal podcast. Any views or opinions represented in this podcast are personal and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations that the owner may or may not be associated with within a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, or individual.

These reflections are written by and are the opinions of Emma Schneider and Julie Gillespie.


To unpack the results from the RTC Conference in May 2022 when we asked the industry: “What motivates someone to move from competency to proficiency?”

There are four main questions that we are deeply interested in:

1. What were the definition that came to the surface for: Motivation, Competency, Proficiency

2. What motivates someone to move from competency to proficiency?

3. On the flip side, what de-motivates someone to move from competency to proficiency?

4. What types of conversations need to be started in the training industry to resolve this gap?


This conversation is a follow on from the Resources Training Council Conference in May 2022. Julie opened the conference by getting people to talk about how to go from Competence to Proficiency, what that looks like for the individual and teams and how leaders can encourage their team to feel motivated to become proficient in their roles.


Rodo is the Chief Executive Officer of Resources Training Council (RTC) which is recognised as the “Voice of Resources Training” in Australia. Their mission is to influence and shape policy to deliver better training and safety outcomes for workforces in resources and associated industries.

Rodo is a highly experienced Resources professional with over 30 years’ experience in the Mining and the Oil and Gas Industries. Rodo has started on the shop floor in mining spending his first 10 years as an underground miner before moving into management roles.

With a proven record of relationship building and being able to positively engage with all stakeholders, from employees to senior management, clients, contractors and regulators.


In this episode we are talking about the resources industry. All findings can be used in all workplaces.

Training is so important in high risk environments. People need to be physically and psychologically as safe as possible. There are a number of distractions including, but not limited to; working with and around heavy machinery, working at heights, working in confined spaces, working remotely and away from family, and fatigue. The resource industry can be a tough place to work for a multitude of reasons and it is incredibly important that we continue to learn to do better and work safer.

Everyone’s priority in the resources industry is how to get home safely at the end of each shift. This conversation goes into how the industry can motivate their people to stay safe each and every shift. The conversation gets broken down into 4 components: Competency, Proficiency, Motivation and De-Motivation. From there we talk about the real life examples that are happening in the workplaces to change attitudes and behaviours.

What is competency?

Competency is a term that is often used when training someone to do a task. Once they are able to complete the task they are signed off as being competent. The main definitions that came out of the conference were below:

  • The knowing and understanding of a task

  • Demonstrating the ability to complete a task

  • Knowing what to do when something goes wrong

Is competency enough to keep the industry safe everyday? Rodo believes not.

What is proficiency?

So how do we move beyond competence? You need time and confidence in all kids of different scenarios. It’s going well beyond competency, by completing the task safety, proficiency, productively. Other definitions that came out during the conference are below:

  • An advanced level of knowing and understanding

  • Mastery

  • Excellence

What does it take for someone to want to go from competency to proficiency

Individual motivation is the key to get someone to go from competency to proficiency.

Other ideas are below:

  • Growth and improvement

  • Progression and recognition reward

  • Feeling Valued

  • Self pride - sense of achievement

To see more ideas check out the first link in the resources section of these reflections.

How do you understand how to motivate your team?

By understanding that motivation is a deeply personal thing, you need to have the conversations and the relationships to be able to ask the question, “What motivates you to do better at work?” By cultivating a supportive, safe, trustworthy, and understanding environment your people will feel comfortable when talking to you about their motivations and how you can support them. It really just comes down to having a conversation with the individual.

“Motivation is one of the driving forces behind human behaviour. It fuels competition and sparks social connection. Its absence can lead to mental illnesses such as depression. Motivation encompasses the desire to continue striving toward meaning, purpose, and a life worth living.” - this article goes more into motivation and how you can increase it.

Work Imagined vs Work Done

As leaders we have an idea of how tasks are done, but it’s not until you spend the time to speak to the people who are actually doing the work to understand how it’s actually being done. It’s the start of providing the correct training for the individuals. How applicable is our current training to the workers? Do we actually understand how the task is actually done during different conditions? Training needs to give power to people to be able to complete their tasks and jobs in a safe manner within the conditions.

What Demotivates people?

Obviously what demotivates people is the opposite to what motivates people. However below are some examples:

  • Toxic work environment

  • Favouritism

  • Competing goals

  • Lack of time, due to skill shortage

By demotivating people you devalue people, you take away their value and their sense of worth within the workplace. Your people then turn up to work in a negative state and are more likely to be focusing on seeing and hearing the negative instead of focusing on the task at hand.

What does a supportive environment look like?

Creating a safe environment is so important to be able to have all necessary conversations. Conversations that don’t need to be public are done in a private and respectful way finishing on a positive note. The situation is able to be unpacked and improvements for the future is an equal discussion without repercussions.

From Rodo’s real life example the below is what a supportive encouraging environment looks like:

  • Words of encouragement amongst the crew and management

  • Acknowledgment of people for the effort they were putting in

  • People thanking their workmates publicly for coming and helping out

If underground miners can say thank you and receive one, why can’t more people? - Julie Gillespie

Making sure that the right person is promoted for the role. By having a relationship with the individuals you can get to know what their aspirations are within their role and give them guidance and direction to get there. By giving people the opportunity to grow into a space that they want, it can be extremely motivational.

Whose role is it to have a courageous conversation?

Ideally it should be mates. However if it’s not happening at that level, then the supervisor or manager needs to be able to step in to support. The aim is to enable an environment where everyone feels safe to speak up when needed.

What does progression look like in your organisation?

How do you let people know that they are valued? Do you let people know that they are valued?

The answers are already in the room, you just need to give people the voice and permission to speak out without consequence.


  1. Fill in the blank... "A conversation can___________" (This can be in the perspective of either party in a conversation)

  2. What has been the greatest lesson, good or bad, that you've learnt about having conversations?

  3. What is something you would like others to know about having difficult conversations?

Rodo’s Answers:

  1. A conversation can have a positive outcome even if it starts with a negative topic.

  2. Greatest Lesson - you need to listen and understand the other person’s point of view.

  3. Courageous conversations don’t come easy however they are so important, they are only difficult at the start. The courage is the engagement.

Supporting Articles

Findings from the Resources Training Council Conference - Link


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