What Is a Competency Framework? (With Types and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 28, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Every organization values competent and hard-working employees to help achieve its goals. Similarly, employees also appreciate efficient colleagues who can deliver work on time and enhance productivity. As a manager or human resource professional, understanding the competency framework can help you learn how to help people perform their jobs more effectively. In this article, we discuss the definition of this framework, highlight its types, outline how to create it, and identify its benefits.

What is a competency framework?

The competency framework combines the skills, knowledge, and attributes that a professional requires to perform well in their role. It's also the list of values that a company needs its employees to possess to achieve company objectives. When there's documentation of required job attributes, it's easier for people to identify what the organization they work for values and expects of the team. The framework ensures that there's a personal understanding of the attributes, which can allow employees to focus their development efforts.

Types of competency

A framework may have these types of competencies:

Leadership competencies

Leadership competencies are the skills that an organization requires its future leaders to possess. Such skills include strategic planning, relationship-building, and the ability to inspire others. The framework can aid employees in identifying these required skills. The identification may lead to the acquisition of the skills, which may help the leaders in the organization grow.

Related: Guidelines on Effective Leadership in the Workplace

Core competencies

These are the skills that an organization requires every team member to demonstrate, irrespective of their department, role, and position in the hierarchy. These skills include teamwork, interpersonal relationship, work ethic, communication, personal development, and time management. All employees' possession of these skills can help the organization achieve its objectives by enhancing work productivity.

Technical competencies

These refer to the specialized skills that employees in unique roles require to perform their tasks effectively. Such positions usually require precise technical expertise with a minimum depth of such knowledge. Technical skills include data analysis, computer programming, project management, graphic design, and accounting.

Core values

These are the behavioural traits that an organization requires all employees to possess. They aren't skills, instead, they're principles that influence and determine the culture in a workplace. Such values may include accountability, honesty, trust, customer dedication, and innovation. Companies are careful when creating the core values because the right value can help the company attain its goals and objectives.

Related: 50 Core Values to Advance Your Career

How to create a framework

Here's an overview of the steps you can follow to develop a framework:

1. Preparation

Planning the purpose, categories, and recipients is vital before creating it. The purpose of a framework for leadership competencies is usually different from that of core values. Assessing specific goals can help identify the uniqueness of each type of competency and tailor the required skills to the essence. For example, planning the framework can help you understand that the necessary skills for IT asset management differ from those for marketing.

This stage also involves contemplating the goals of the organization in an attempt to clarify the skills that may be useful to organization growth. Skills such as computer literacy, teamwork, and time management ensure employees work effectively and hasten company growth. Preparation also includes the addition of organizational diversity into your plan to ensure that the framework covers every current and future team member.

2. Data collection

Data collection involves getting data from employees through various means. Collecting information from employees ensures your data is accurate because employees are the closest to company operations. You can collect the data by observing employees at their workstations to see how they execute their tasks. This collection method helps see the attributes responsible for their success, challenges, and the skills that may solve such challenges.

You can also use interviews as a form of data collection. Your interviews can be with the employees to know the complexities of their roles and the required skills for such roles. You may also direct your interview with the managers to get a holistic view of the role and its necessary skills. There are other relevant means of data collection, such as questionnaires that promote anonymity.

3. Framework creation

Framework creation is the stage where you detail all the required skills and connect them to the different roles in the organization. An easy way to begin the creation of the framework is to arrange all the skills into various categories to enable the easy acquisition of a skill set. Such categories may include leadership, communication, marketing, cyber security, decision-making, and programming. After creating the categories, you can make subcategories to streamline the framework. For example, Python and R programming skills can be subcategories of the larger programming category.

You can specify the skills in a subcategory and link each skill to a role in the organization. For example, you may set data visualization under the Python programming subcategory and prescribe data visualization as a required skill for a data analyst. You may also add some actionable functions to the skill to ensure people understand how it relates to the company's objectives. For example, the data visualization skill may have an actionable function that directs the skill owner to visualize and present data results in executive meetings.

Related: 18 Data Analyst Skills for Success

4. Review and revision

After creating the framework, you can review it to ensure that the required skills are suitable for the roles. For the best review, it's essential that you seek the opinions of the employees and other managers. Employees that are familiar with their roles understand the necessary skill sets they can develop to improve their job. Managers also provide insights from viewing the work from a different perspective. Combining the input from these sources may help you make revisions that the whole team appreciates.

5. Communication with fellow employees

Employees are critical to the performance of tasks and the achievement of company goals and their support is essential to implementing the framework in a practical setting. It's essential to inform the team and involve them in the development process. Inform them of the steps you're employing in the framework creation and how to use it when it's complete. Sharing information can facilitate their approval and enable a smooth change to the new system. Communicating with them can also inform you of certain aspects you didn't consider earlier.

6. Execution

Execution involves the framework's integration into the organization's structure. When completing this step, it's essential to provide training and skill acquisition programs for employees in the organization. Such programs can help them develop relevant skills for their jobs and help them identify their core values. The framework's execution can progress better if there are rewards for skill acquisition and adaptability to the new system. Employees may aspire to learn new skills and perform better at work because of incentives.

It's equally essential that the framework is clear and specific. You can also relate the skill set of each role to its contribution to company growth and performance. This enables employees to align themselves to company objectives because they can see their value.

Benefits of a framework

These are the various benefits of developing a framework:

Measurement of learning impact

This involves tracking the contribution of employee development programs to a change in productivity, which is made easier with a framework. When you organize skill acquisition programs for team members, you may not know their level of understanding or ability. The framework creates a way to interview each person, observe them at work to see the skill in effect, and recommend areas for improvement.

Easy succession

A framework can help companies plan ahead by identifying potential leaders long before succession is necessary. Managers might notice a team member's proficiency, commitment, and demonstration of leadership skills. You can then note those with the highest affinity to the leadership skill category and prepare them to advance to leadership positions when roles become available.

Related: The Importance of Leadership and Culture in Organizations

Connection of personal and organizational aims

Creating a framework of required skills can help both the company and its employees because it allows them to relate their skills to the large-scale objectives. Employees can plan their personal development to include the required skills for the different roles within the framework. Connecting everyone's personal development to the organization's development ensures that everyone performs well. You can join their goals effectively by writing a comprehensive framework considering both the company's and employees' best interests.

Better recruits

Every company desires to employ the best persons in alignment with company values and goals. A framework can help you ensure that the recruits in an organization can perform the tasks effectively. The framework highlights the necessary skill set for specific roles in the job vacancies, sharing the company's values and filtering the candidates so that only those with the relevant skill set apply. This filtered application process helps companies in finding suitable candidates that are more likely to excel and stay with the company long term.

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