Competency frameworks. Heard of them?
Most businesses have at some point had something in the way of skills, abilities and behaviours that they relate to great performance. This is a competency framework.
Ultimately a competency describes the how of our work, just as the objectives, targets and KPIs (key performance indicators) describe the what. For example, your ‘what’ might be to deliver £50k sales per month and your ‘how’ might be to build relationships, influence and close the sale.
Competencies are the way a company communicates its brand through its people. Imagine a brand where TV ads emphasise a focus on customer service & being helpful. Then you see employees ignoring & being rude to customers. Our people need to support our brand in order for our brand to have any meaning.
When we only talk about the what and not the how, we can find ourselves in trouble. Take the example of a sales target. If you are measured only on bringing in £50k of sales, then you can frankly bring in those sales any way you fancy. Unethically, by hassling customers, promising things you can’t deliver, lying about product features etc. An extreme example, but you get the point.
It’s critical we are clear about both what we want people to do and how we want them to represent the business. This is great for recruitment, as we can look for people who have achieved what we expect in a way that fits our brand. It’s also useful for development and performance management, as we can define what we’re looking for.
The development of a competency framework comes essentially from job analysis across levels and departments. Whilst there is a lot of consistency in what every business wants from its people, (e.g. good teamwork and great communication), it is the process of selecting the right priority areas and putting this into the right language for your brand that takes time.
We generally recommend focus groups with representatives from right across the business to shape the framework, followed by a first draft test, before we then launch the framework in whatever way works best for you. The most powerful launches are those that are relevant and linked to other things, such as performance reviews or personal development plans.