What Competencies are needed?

Imagine an organisation that you could start from scratch. Imagine an organisation in which you could stipulate exactly the type of people you needed, what skills would be required, the level of experience, the level of competence and capability as well as specifying the right mindset, the right level of ambition and the right level of enthusiasm to do the job to the best of their abilities. Imagine that ‘stop’ button that could place the business imperatives ‘on hold’ so you could just start again.

To some extent, you actually need this approach to build a Competency Framework. If the starting point is, ‘well, let’s have a look of what we’ve have got’ then the whole intention, purpose, objective and potential of a Competency Framework is lost.

So, what is it? In essence, a Competency Framework it is list of competencies and skills – designated and agreed – that are actual proficiency requirements within the business. From that list, it is important to decide to which level of employee those skills are relevant and/or important. It is then important to specify the grade of competency each level should attain.

So, for example, it would usually be extremely important for a Line Supervisor to be able to understand KPIs – those that are needed to understand and drive performance. It is also important for them to understand how those KPIs are calculated and how they can be influenced. It is not an absolute requirement that all Supervisors are mathematical experts – just that they have a practitioner’s level of understanding.

It might also be necessary for a Manager to be able to conduct and lead effective Review Meetings, ensuring that all the basic Terms of Reference are adhered to and that they are effective forums for decisions to be made and actions assigned. The business might expect them to be knowledgeable but more realistically to be extremely proficient practitioners or, indeed, Experts.

Completing a fully functional Competency Framework isn’t an easy thing to do (which is why a lot of businesses intend to complete one but never actually get it done). But the advantages are clear. It provides the correct foundation on which the correct training can be targeted, it relates directly to employees’ job description (why on earth would you give a job description that doesn’t include what you expect people to be capable of doing?); it provide a recruitment platform; it guides succession planning and it provides a career and development plan for everyone in the organisation.

So, in response to the first point, it would be nice to start from scratch. However, the real world demands that a Competency Framework is put together with the organisation as you find it complete with its unique collection of experience, behaviours, habits and standards. This can be difficult. To suddenly question whether people – some who have been employed for years – are ‘capable’ or ‘competent’ is a difficult but ultimately essential and necessary proposition.

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