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A Short Guide to Competency Frameworks

Why do I need a Competency Framework?

‘Competency framework’ is one of those HR terms that are thrown around organisations as a ‘must have’ but rarely do organisations have frameworks that are well designed and fit for purpose. Unfortunately, a series of well-formulated competency frameworks are the backbone of any talent management strategy.

Why? Because a competency framework marries your organisational goals, values and purpose, to the training and development needs of your employees. This means a series of well-designed competency frameworks also helps to increase engagement and motivation and, in turn, fosters innovation and creativity in your organisation.

What is a competency framework?

In its purest form, a competency framework details the behaviours and skills a person requires to operate in that organisation or, in a particular role.

A competency framework is not a job description. Although a job description contains a basic list of skills, knowledge and abilities required for that role, it does not describe the specific skills and behaviours needed to succeed at that organisation or in a specific position.

What does a competency framework look like?

Any competency framework usually consists of somewhere between 6 and 12 behaviours for each enterprise or role. For each of the behaviours, levels of competence are established to show what is required to be deemed poor, proficient or excellent in that area of expertise.

It is usual to have 3-5 levels of behaviour for each behaviour or skill, ranging from poor to excellent. As part of a performance management process, people are measured against each of the competencies to show how well they are performing in that role. If a person excels in the behaviours and skills required for that position, they would likely be considered for promotion to the next level.

How do we establish behaviours?

Behaviours are discovered by performing in-depth research into the organisation. This research and analysis assesses how the organisation currently operates and what it wants to achieve in the future. Technical experts in the field usually perform the research and analysis.

Why use technical experts?

Competency behaviour statements for each level need to be based on observable behavior. They need to be measurable and they should be aligned with the goals of the organisation and the appropriate team or department. They also need to be free of industry jargon and written in a way that allows people to understand the different levels of behaviour required to meet each stage of performance.

Getting these statements right is an exact science and occupational psychology consultants are experts in designing this efficiently and effectively to meet your organisation’s needs.

Hiring an outside consultant to design the frameworks for you can ensure that:

  • You gain an unbiased view of your organisation and what approaches will work best within it.
  • You can ensure that your employees are being fairly tested for their ability to achieve against the behaviours. Unclear behavior descriptions could lead someone to miss out on a deserved promotion or be incorrectly performance managed for their behaviour.
  • Having the right people recruited and selected for the right roles lowers your recruitment costs.

Occupational Psychologists at Psyence are trained in best practice processes for competency framework design and have designed and implemented frameworks across various industries and organisations.

Our consultant understand talent strategies and provide a non-biased viewpoint about what will work best in your organisation. To find out how Psyence can help your company please contact us for more information.