Our Competency Framework Expertise

With insight gained from our vast experience of reviewing, enhancing and designing competency frameworks, we help organisations ensure their behavioural frameworks align to the specific needs of their business context. We do this by using our Universal Competency Framework (UCF). Based on findings from our research, the UCF was created in 2001, refined over time, and revised and updated in 2016.

The framework has been used to assist many clients when building their own integrated corporate competency frameworks. Another key innovation in our design approach allows us to link our UCF framework to a client’s business context using a taxonomy of 27 business challenges.

Characteristics of a Well-Designed Competency Framework

Whether you have a competency framework, or are looking to create a new one, there are a number of characteristics that represent what ‘good looks like’. To help you determine the extent to which your framework is aligned to best practice principles we would suggest considering your answers to the questions below:

  • Does the framework align to your organisation’s vision and strategy?

    Competency frameworks need to adapt and change as organisational strategy shifts. Too often competency frameworks are not reviewed or validated to ensure alignment.

  • Is the framework structure aligned to your needs?

    This includes evaluating whether the number of competency levels is sufficient and if particular competencies are only relevant for certain roles or levels.

  • Is the framework content clear and accessible?

    The language in the framework needs to be simple, observable and in a language that individuals can relate to.

If your answers to the questions above leave you unsure, your competency framework is more than two years old, or you have recently had a significant shift in organisational strategy, it is recommended that you progress a review to ensure you are driving the right behaviours to achieve objectives.

Our ‘Competency Framework Best Practice Guide’ will help you with your review:

Designing Competency Frameworks

The SHL 4-stage process to competency framework design is a tried and tested methodology that brings together best practice rigour and our latest contextual research that links behaviours and performance in context. 

Stage 1 – Visioning

Stage 3 – Creating

Stage 2 – Engaging

Stage 4 – Embedding

Competency Framework Design Options

  • Leverage the UCF fully or use a subset of it
  • Rename the UCF competencies to align more closely with the language of your business
  • Create a bespoke competency framework specific to your organisation

Irrespective of the level of customisation described, we always draw on the UCF as part of our competency design process as this strong, well-researched foundation helps ensure that your framework reflects best practice competency framework characteristics. 

Competency Framework Best Practice

When reviewing the strength of your organisation’s competency framework, we recommend using seven areas to help determine alignment with best practice principles.

Download our guide to learn more.

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