Competency Framework

Developing a Competency Framework

If a clearly defined competency framework is critical to long-term organisational success, why do so many organisations lack one?

What do you need to measure in order to recruit, retain and develop a capable workforce? This is a common question we get asked, and one that has prompted us to write this article.

So what is a competency framework? A competency framework defines the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to perform the various roles within an organisation effectively.

A clearly defined competency framework is critical for the long-term success of an organisation, as it can help to:

  • Recruit individuals with a higher chance of success in any given position.
  • Identify competency gaps, required training and non-training interventions.
  • Link individual performance to organisational objectives.
  • Develop individual succession plans.
Key principals when developing a competency framework
  • Communicate the purpose: Developing a competency framework will instigate anxiety. It’s important to communicate the purpose of the framework, how it will be developed and how it will be used.
  • Go to the source: Involve the people doing the actual job. The framework should not be based on the opinions of others who have little or no experience doing the job.
  • Relevance: Whilst there may be some universal competencies, it’s important to ensure that competencies are directly related to individual jobs.


Developing the Framework
Step 1: Scoping

What is the purpose of the competency framework? How will it impact the organisation now and in the future? Who will be involved in developing it, and how will it be implemented? These are a few of the key questions you need to ask when determining the scope.

A Competence Committee should be created to define the scope. It's imperative that the committee be comprised of different stakeholders from all areas of the business so that you get a well rounded perspective.

Step 2: Analyse Roles

Which knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to perform individual jobs effectively now, and in the future? To do this you may wish to review:

  • The organisation’s vision, mission and values.
  • The organisations business strategy.
  • Job descriptions for individual roles.
  • Regulatory and/or compliance requirements.
  • Customer and/or supplier requirements.
Step 3: Collect Data

The more data you collect, the more accurate your framework will be. With this in mind it's important that you think long and hard about which data collection techniques you will use.

  • Qualitative Research: Depth interviews, focus groups, perception mapping, word association etc.
  • Quantitative Research: Structured questionnaires, interviews and surveys etc.
  • Observational Research: Mystery shopping, performance monitoring etc.

In most cases you will use a combination of different research techniques.

Step 4: Develop Framework

Once you have analysed each role and collected the necessary data on them, you need to group knowledge, skills and behaviours into competency groups.

For each competency group you need to generate a competency statement that clearly defines what the competency is and what are the observable behaviours.

At this stage it's important that the committee think long and hard about what competencies are needed now, and what competencies will be needed in the future.

Step 5: Validate & Implement

Working with stakeholders you need to validate competency statements. Are the knowledge, skills or behaviours currently demonstrated by the most effective people or should they be?

It is strongly advised that the people validating the competencies are different from the people developing the framework, as this will help to remove any personal bias.

Whatever approach you use to developing a competency framework, it's important that you communicate from start to finish. Employees need to see and understand the benefits to avoid it being seeing as yet another administrative chore.