How to build a Competency Framework

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First of all why do you want to build one?

Often it’s because people ask for training and development that may not be directly related to their job role, it may be dealt with ad hoc and often training needs aren’t aggregated at an organisational, project or team level.

Another reason could be that you are looking for an evidence based approach to assessing skill level and performance, you may be recruiting, looking at career progression or you may want to demonstrate your workforce capability for a tender, proposal, project or industry awards.

Whatever the reason, I suggest you start with the end in mind – what are you wanting as the out and outcomes and then work your way back.

Secondly, who needs to be involved to validate and who needs to be briefed and kept up to date with the framework as it develops.  Communication and consultation is absolutely critical so work out who are your audiences, what do you need to say, when and how often, and what communication methods will you use including existing communication channels.  Utilising a group of people representing their job roles, especially if they are well networked in their area is a good way to go.  Help them to know the purpose of the framework, what it will be used for and their knowledge, experience and understanding of the job roles in the framework to validate the competency and skills profiles.

Thirdly, think about the structure which needs to mirror the organisation or client (could be internal or external like a project) you are working with.  I like the structure of core competencies i.e. everybody needs these, functional competencies including leadership i.e. some people need different functions, and job specific competencies i.e. skills that make 1 job role different to another.  Draw a diagram of the competency framework and have the map to relevant skills sitting behind it.

Fourthly, what can we use the framework for?  Training and development needs analysis,performance management, competency based job descriptions and recruitment, career and succession planning, evidence against industry standards and for tenders, proposals, marketing and promotions.

A final word on who needs a framework – well it’s up to you!  I have developed a framework for a 1 person business up to a government department with 43 000 people because they had very real business reasons to build one in the first place.

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