The question is: How do you define the skills, behaviours, and attitudes that workers need to perform their roles effectively? How do you know they are suitably qualified for the job? And most importantly, how do you know what to measure?

Some people think formal education is a reliable measure. Others believe more on-the-job training, and years of experience. Still others might argue that personal characteristics hold the key to effective work behaviour.

All of these are important, but none seems sufficient to describe an ideal set of behaviours and traits needed for any particular role. Nor do they guarantee that individuals will perform to the standards and levels required by the organisation. A more complete way of approaching this is to link individual performance to the goals of the business. By having a defined set of competencies for each role in your business, it shows employees the kind of behaviours the organisation values, and which it requires to help achieve its objectives. Creating a competency framework is an effective method to assess, maintain, and monitor the knowledge, skills, and attributes of people in your organisation. The framework allows you to measure current competency levels to make sure your staff members have the expertise needed to add value to the business. It also helps managers make informed decisions about talent recruitment, retention, and succession strategies.

To develop a framework, one needs to have an in-depth understanding of the roles within the business. The easiest way to approach the design is to use a pre-set list of common, standard competencies and then customise it to the specific needs of your organisation. Involve the people doing the work – to understand a role fully, you have to go to the source – the person doing the job – as well as getting a variety of other inputs into what makes someone successful in that job. Use relevant competencies, it’s important that people are able to relate to the framework you have created. Don’t forget to communicate! Explain to individuals why the framework is being created, how it will be created and how it will be used… the more you communicate in advance, the easier the implementation will be!

Step 1: It’s all about Preparation

Define the purpose – make sure you’re clear on the purpose for creating the framework. How you plan to use it will impact who you involve in preparing it and how you determine its scope

Create a competency framework team – include all areas of your business that will use the framework. Aim to represent the diversity of your organisation. Think long term too – how do you plan to keep the framework updated and relevant?

Step 2: It’s all about the Information

The better the data you collect, the more accurate your framework will be. Consider the techniques you may want to use to collect information about the roles and the work involved in each one. Some ideas you may want to consider:

  • Observe – watch people while they perform their roles
  • Interview people – the individual performing the job, the supervisor of the job etc.,
  • Create a questionnaire / survey
  • Analyse the work – look at business objectives, job descriptions, predictions for the future of the organisation or industry, customer requirements etc. Job analysis would most likely give you the most comprehensive and accurate results.

Step 3: Build

It’s now time to group all of the behaviours and skill sets together into larger competencies.

Group the Statements – the goal is to have three or four sets at first.

Create Subgroups – you can work on having three or four subgroupings for each larger category. This will provide the basic structure of the framework.

Refine the subgroups – define them even further. Ask yourself why and how the behaviours relate, or don’t relate and revise your groupings as necessary.

Identify and name the competencies – involve the team to now identify a specific competency to represent each of the smaller subgroups of behaviours. Then they can also name the larger category.

You may need to add levels for each competency. This is particularly useful when using the framework for performance reviews. To do so, take each competency and divide the related behaviours into measurement scales according to complexity, responsibility, scope, or other relevant criteria. These levels may already exist if you have job grading in place.

Step 4: Time to implement

As you roll out the finalised competency framework, remember to communicate! Get buy-in from all members of staff at all levels of the organisation. It is important to explain why the framework was developed and how it will be used. Discuss how it will be updated and what procedures you have put in place to ensure it’s validated and revised when necessary and how you plan on accommodating any changes should there be a need.

Implement the framework successfully by linking it to business objectives, provide coaching and training – people need to know that their efforts will be supported, and most important, keep it simple!