Competency Framework and Assessment

Competency Framework and Assessment

“Linking Company Objectives and Personal Performance”

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're qualified for the job? In other words, how do you know what to measure? Some people think formal education is a reliable measure. Others believe more in on-the-job training, and years of experience. Others might argue that personal characteristics hold the key to effective work behaviour. All of these are important, but none seems enough to describe an ideal set of behaviours and traits needed for any role. Nor do they guarantee that individuals will perform to the standards and levels required by the organization.

A more complete way of approaching this is to link individual performance to the goals of the business. To do this, many companies use "competencies." These are the integrated knowledge, skills, judgment, and attributes that people need to perform a job effectively. By having a defined set of competencies for each role in your business, it shows workers the kind of behaviours the organization values, and which it requires to help achieve its objectives. Not only can your team members work more effectively and achieve their potential, but there are many business benefits to be had from linking personal performance with corporate goals and values.

Defining which competencies are necessary for success in your organization can help you do the following:

  • Ensure that your people demonstrate enough expertise.
  • Recruit and select new staff more effectively.
  • Evaluate performance more effectively
  • Identify skill and competency gaps more efficiently
  • Provide more customized training and professional development
  • Plan sufficiently for succession
  • Make change management processes work more efficiently

How can you define the set of practices needed for effective performance? You can do this by adding a competency framework to your talent management program. By collecting and combining competency information, you can create a standardized approach to performance that's clear and accessible to everyone in the company. The framework outlines specifically what people need to do to be effective in their roles, and it clearly establishes how their roles relate to organizational goals and success.

At Aniaaz, we follow the 4-step process in developing the framework

Define the purpose – Before you start analysing jobs, and figuring out what each role needs for success, make sure you look at the purpose for creating the framework. How you plan to use it will impact whom you involve in preparing it, and how you determine its scope. For example, a framework for filling a job vacancy will be very specific, whereas a framework for evaluating compensation will need to cover a wide range of roles.

Create a competency framework team – Include people from all areas of your business that will use the framework. Where possible, aim to represent the diversity of your organization. It's also important to think about long-term needs, so that you can keep the framework updated and relevant.

This is the main part of the framework. Generally, the better the data you collect, the more accurate your framework will be. For this reason, it's a good idea to consider which techniques you'll use to collect information about the roles, and the work involved in each one. You may want to use the following:

Observe – Watch people while they're performing their roles. This is especially useful for jobs that involve hands-on labour that you can physically observe.

Interview people – Talk to every person individually, choose a sample of people to interview, or conduct a group interview. You may also want to interview the supervisor of the job you're assessing. This helps you learn what a wide variety of people believe is needed for the role's success.

Create a questionnaire – A survey is an efficient way to gather data. Spend time making sure you ask the right questions and consider the issues of reliability and validity. If you prefer, there are standardized job analysis questionnaires you can buy, rather than attempting to create your own.

Analyse the work – Which behaviours are used to perform the jobs covered by the framework? You may want to consider the following:

  • Business plans, strategies, and objectives.
  • Organizational principles.
  • Job descriptions
  • Regulatory or other compliance issues.
  • Predictions for the future of the organization or industry.
  • Customer and supplier requirements.

Job analysis that includes a variety of techniques and considerations will give you the most comprehensive and accurate results. If you create a framework for the entire organization, make sure you use a sample of roles from across the company. This will help you capture the widest range of competencies that are still relevant to the whole business.

As you gather information about each role, record what you learn in separate behavioural statements. For example, if you learn that Paul from accounting is involved in bookkeeping, you might break that down into these behavioural statements: handles petty cash, maintains floats, pays vendors according to policy, and analyses cash books each month. You might find that other roles also have similar tasks – and therefore bookkeeping will be a competency within that framework.

When you move on to Step Three, you'll be organizing the information into larger competencies, so it helps if you can analyse and group your raw data effectively.

This stage involves grouping all the behaviours and skill sets into competencies. Follow these steps to help you with this task:

Group the statementsAsk your team members to read through the behaviour statements, and group them into piles. The goal is to have three or four piles at first – for instance, manual skills, decision-making and judgment skills, and interpersonal skills.

Create subgroups – Break down each of the larger piles into subcategories of related behaviours. Typically, there will be three or four subgroupings for each larger category. This provides the basic structure of the competency framework

Identify and name the competencies – Ask your team to 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 compensation or 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.

Validate and revise the competencies as necessary – For each item, ask these questions:

Is this behaviour demonstrated by people who perform the work most effectively? In other words, are people who don't demonstrate this behaviour ineffective in the role?

Is this behaviour relevant and necessary for effective work performance?

These questions are often asked in the form of a survey. It's important to look for consensus among the people doing the job, as well as areas where there's little agreement. Also, look for possible issues with language, or the way the competencies are described, and refine those as well.

As you roll out the finalized competency framework, remember the principle of communication that we mentioned earlier. To help get buy-in from members of staff at all levels of the organization, it's important to explain to them why the framework was developed, and how you'd like it to be used. Discuss how it will be updated, and which procedures you've put in place to accommodate changes.

Here are some tips for implementing the framework:

  • Link to business objectives – Make connections between individual competencies and organizational goals and values as much as possible.
  • Reward the competencies – Check that your policies and practices support and reward the competencies identified.
  • Provide coaching and training – Make sure there's adequate coaching and training available. People need to know that their efforts will be supported.
  • Keep it simple – Make the framework as simple as possible. You want the document to be used, not filed away and forgotten.
  • Communicate – Most importantly, treat the implementation as you would any other change initiative. The more open and honest you are throughout the process, the better the result – and the better the chances of the project achieving your objectives.

Please contact us to let you know we can be of your help in building competency framework for your organization.