Time to spring clean your competency framework?

Tips on how to carry out a strategic review your competency framework with a view to updating and revising this.

update competencies

If you already have a competency framework that has been in place for more than a couple of years, it may be in need of a strategic review and see how it's working for your business.

Probably a good first step is to look at how and where your competencies are used and where they can be reinforced.  To help, here's a list of the reference points and factors for you to bear in mind as part of this:

The organisational values.  Competencies are an excellent opportunity to set out what is expected, in behavioural terms, of someone who works in line with the values of the company.  Competencies can describe what values look like in practice and help people to understand how they can align their performance and behaviour with them.  It’s surprising how often we find that the competency framework and the values bear no resemblance to each other whatsoever, and sometimes contain impossible contradictions...

The current strategy.  Your mission and vision may not have shifted much – or at all - in two years but your strategic priorities have undoubtedly been revised in the light of current market conditions, competitor activity and environmental pressures and developments.  Your competency framework should set out the enabling behaviours that will support the achievement of those priorities and help you to recruit and develop the key capabilities which will be needed within the workforce in the coming 2 to 5 years.

Your brand.  We highly recommend working closely with the marketing department to identify opportunities to strengthen the representation of your brand by aligning internal behaviour with the image you present externally, with clients and partners.  Again, we frequently see an entirely different set of internal expectations to what the brand promises to its customers.

Your talent management strategy.  What are you currently doing to ensure that your organisation has the right people in the right place at the right time?  Your competency framework needs to support all of the various talent management practices in the organisation so do an audit of your requirements here.  Are you using several different (and potentially confusing) scales across assessment methodologies?  Does the framework contain sufficient ‘granularity’ to allow discrimination between different levels of performance?  Is it flexible enough to be used across working patterns, job families, grades, specialisms and locations?

The relevance of your competencies. Do your competencies remain culturally relevant, and even possible?  Do some reflect an older way of working and speak more to a time when our working lives were less dominated by social media, mobile technology and digital communication?  Are they sufficiently forward-looking?  Do they convey a ‘them and us’ message, separating out groups such as managers, leaders, full time employees, product specialists or customer-facing roles?  Are they inclusive, reinforce the value of diversity and provide a fair platform for assessment and decision-making?  Is the language clean, simple and reflects the way that people actually talk?

Often, a review such as this results in subtle changes rather than radical ones and there's a balance to be had between shifting the goalposts too frequently and making sure things stay relevant and up to date.

But once you’re confident that your framework reflects current priorities and supports delivery in the near future, then you can turn your attention to putting it to work. And that's the subject of our next blog!

If you’d like to keep in touch with what we’re thinking about competencies, then sign up to receive our regular updates.

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You may also be interested in reading our article in which we look at the role of competency frameworks within talent management.

Competency Frameworks:  the foundation of successful Talent Management

 And a further article about bringing competencies back to life.

Read the article Bringing competencies to life


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