a competency framework is a best and most comprehensive way to define a role and an organisation’s setup – including responsibilities and skills. 

Competency frameworks originally measured the behaviours or ‘soft skills’ employers want, but have evolved to include technical skills.

All skills and behaviours included should have the capacity to be measured, and no more than 12 elements – preferably fewer – should be included for any role with an explanation and example(s) of each included.

Competencies include the candidate’s ability to buy into the organisation’s values.

This is where “competencies” differ from just stating the qualifications or job experience needed for the roles within an organisation. 

Competencies are necessary to ensure that you can demonstrate that your people have the right expertise; you can review and appoint new staff efficiently; evaluate performance; identify where skills are missing; manage any management changes and plan for the future of the business.

The amount of detail included in the competency framework is important: if requirements are too general, they risk becoming meaningless and, arguably, not measurable; but if they are too detailed they become excessively bureaucratic and as a result, may lose credibility. 

Competency frameworks increasingly also look at employees’ strengths and match those strengths to types of work that enhance individual performance.

Competency frameworks created around organisational values can also ensure you recruit people who match an organisation’s culture.

HR experts cite top competencies as:

  • communication skills
  • people management skills
  • team skills
  • customer service skills
  • results-orientation
  • problem-solving skills

It is important to ensure that required competencies do not breach the Fair Work Act and that organisations do not solely look at what an employee has achieved in the past, but also at what they are capable of achieving in the future. Competency frameworks should be regularly reviewed so they keep pace with organisational needs.

It’s a good idea to look at how competency frameworks for comparable roles in other organisations are written. This benchmarking exercise will help you determine how you compare to your competitors, allowing you to develop an attractive competency framework.

best practice for creating a competency framework

  • Involve staff – they will have the best insight into what the job involves in reality. If you leave the framework to the HR department, then you might find that it is not comprehensive enough. 
  • Communicate your intentions – it’s important that everyone involved in the creation of the competencies knows why you are establishing them and your intention (this could be any of the reasons, or all of the reasons, above).
  • Only choose relevant competencies for your roles – you need to make sure that the competencies you select relate and are relevant to all of the roles included in the framework. This might mean that you need to have different competencies for different sections of your organisation.

running competency interviews

Competency-based interviews are the most used selection method across all sectors, and competency frameworks are now often seen as an essential way to achieve high organisational performance through individual capability and potential. 

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